Most national food chains and fast-food restaurants will provide nutritional information for their food if you ask. That may not be the case when you’re ordering from your favorite local neighborhood takeout place. You usually only get a feel for the calorie content of local fare after slipping into a food coma. Here are some tips on to order healthy from your favorite local takeout places.
When ordering Italian food, order minestrone soup as your appetizer. There’s around 230 calories per cup, nine grams of protein, and very low fat. Plus, the broth fills you up so you don’t overeat your entrée. On pasta, stick to tomato sauce or white clam sauce. One cup of spaghetti with tomato sauce is less than 300 calories and one cup of spaghetti with white clam sauce is usually less than 500 calories.
Craving something south of the border? Mexican food isn’t all refried beans and cheese. Try ordering the ceviche — fresh fish or shrimp — on a toasted tortilla with cabbage, onion and cilantro, weighing in just around 173 calories. You can also go for some grilled fish tacos. Two small ones contain just around 250 calories.
Sushi seems healthy, but all that tempura and white rice adds up! Try the California roll that has just around 255 calories and healthy omega fats from the tuna, or the cucumber roll with just 136 calories, or the salmon and avocado roll, which has 304 calories but is high in vitamins B6 and C.
Craving the spicy, tasty, creamy sauces of Thai food? Order the coconut shrimp soup, which usually has 528 calories in a bowl or the cashew chicken, which has just less than 400 calories. For an appetizer, order the hot-and-sour shrimp soup, which has 298 calories.
Chinese food can quickly become a calorie pitfall, but you can still indulge your craving and not feel totally bloated. Order the Buddha’s delight. This has usually limited or no noodles, tons of steamed vegetables and grilled protein. One platter has just around 200 calories. And you can indulge in some wonton soup — it has just around 100 calories per bowl.
It’s hard not to gobble up the entire platter of Ethiopian food, sitting on that soft and delicious injera bread. To control the calories in your order, ask for the vegetable combination platter with injera. This will usually be a little less than 800 calories and if you don’t finish your injera, you’ll cut out a couple hundred calories.
Are you craving a big pile of meat between hunks of bread with all your favorite add-ons? Go for turkey breast, which has just 45 calories in two slices and seven grams of protein, or uncured (that’s the important part because cured ham is higher in sodium) ham, which can have just 50 calories in two ounces. Finally, ask them to make your sandwich “skinny” which means they scoop out a majority of the bread, leaving the outer crust intact. This is actually healthier than a flatbread. For example, a flatbread from Subway has 220 calories, whereas the scooped-out sourdough, nine-grain and hearty Italian rolls have just 210 calories.
Indian food has delicious sauces but those can be loaded with cream and salt. Order vegetable korma curry, with just around 88 calories in the sauce per serving, and less than six grams of fat. Also try the arhar dhal, a bean stew with around 53 calories per serving and 1.2 grams of fat. And good news: you can order the chicken masala — just make sure it’s chicken “tikka” (roasted chunks) masala which has just 260 calories per serving. Other types of masala can be loaded with cream.
Pizza can be tricky. It’s certainly not a diet food. But, if you must order it, always go for thin crust and if it’s available, gluten-free crust. The new Dominos gluten-free crust has just 176 calories in the entire small pizza crust. Meanwhile a regular, hand-tossed crust has 820 calories. Also, pile on vegetables because the more fiber you get in each slice, the more full you’ll feel and the less likely you’ll be to reach for another slice.
If you’re craving some classic American food from your favorite diner, skip the side of fries. One side can add up to 700 calories to your dish. Opt for a veggie or turkey burger instead of a regular burger—a turkey burger will have around 217 calories and just around 12 grams of fat. A small meat patty can have a similar calorie count but will be much higher in fat.