One of the biggest hurdles to eating healthier is that it often requires planning and a trip to the grocery store and meal preparation. It’s one of the reasons why 1 in 3 adults in the US eats takeout (pre-COVID-19).

Most people prefer home-cooked food to restaurant food, but that’s not always an option. Sometimes, people are too busy or tired to get behind a stove and prepare something healthy; while this is great for food-delivery apps, it’s not so great for your health or waistline.

Also, it doesn’t help that many fast-food restaurants are unimaginative or have limited healthy options; it’s mostly dull salads drenched in high-fat dressings. Sure, ordering that chicken salad might make you feel better about yourself because you’re making a “healthier” choice, but it likely has more calories than a cheeseburger!

However, all hope is not lost. There are workarounds you can use to make your takeout healthier.


Fast food restaurants tend to highlight their meat options more than their vegetarian options, but most offer a vegetarian menu.

Taco Bell, for instance, has a menu that is certified by the American Vegetarian Association. Vegetarian options are often healthier than their meat options.

Even if a restaurant doesn’t offer vegetarian options, you’re still better off ordering a dish that contains some veggies or that comes with a veggie side.

Eat the veggies first; otherwise, you might end up throwing them away because you’re too full! Also, filling your stomach with healthy food first leaves less room for the less healthy options on your plate.

Whole Grains 

Always go for the whole grain option if there’s one. Choose whole grain bread over white bread, multi-grain oatmeal over regular oatmeal, and brown rice over white rice. Even if they’re prepared the same, at least you’ll get more nutrients and fiber from the whole grain option.

Baked, Steamed, Roasted or Grilled over Fried

Grilled, roasted, or baked foods are almost always healthier than fried food because they contain less fat. Frying adds more fat to the food, while the other meal prep options either keep the original amount of fat or allow excess fat to drip off.

Steamed spring rolls, dumplings, and rice, for instance, are healthier than their fried alternatives. Similarly, a baked potato is more nutritious than fries as long as you don’t load it with too much junk.

Sauce and Dressing on the Side

Fast food sauces are high in sugar, sodium, and fat, not to mention calories, so use sparingly.

Asking for sauces and dressings on the side allows you to control how much you use; it’s a great way to keep healthy salads healthy.

Also, when possible, pick vegetable-based sauces like marinara sauce over cheese or cream-based ones.

The Breakfast Menu

Some restaurants let you order from the breakfast menu all day! Therefore, if the only ‘vegetarian’ options on the dinner menu are wilted salads, salty fries, and milkshakes, try the breakfast menu. Your order may take a bit longer to prepare but it’s a small price to pay for healthier food.

Takeout may never be as healthy as a home-cooked meal, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with only double-fried, drenched in sauce options, either.

Keep your to-go orders healthy by opting for vegetarian, whole grain, baked, steamed, roasted, or grilled foods rather than the tempting fried foods you see in the commercials.

Remember, ask for sauces and dressings on the side and use them sparingly.

These simple tips will make your takeout options much healthier, boost your energy, and are an easy way to maintain a trimmer waistline. Taking charge of your takeout options is something you can control, especially when you start feeling you’re at the mercy of life’s uncertainties.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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