Delivery & Takeout: 7 Healthy Tips
Whether you’re throwing a Game Day party or planning a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at home, ordering food delivery or takeout can be a risky endeavor if you’re on a weight loss plan.
For example, cheese is permitted on the South Beach Diet, but an order of Four-Cheese Mac-and-Cheese (while certainly comforting) is definitely not recommended. While lean beef is also encouraged, a 16-ounce T-Bone is four times the serving size of a Protein on the South Beach Diet meal plan. So, how do you stay on track when everything sounds—and likely tastes—so good?
Here are seven healthy tips for ordering takeout or delivery on your low-carb diet:
1. Don’t Order Hungry
Sounds silly, but think about it: How much extra food do you buy at the grocery store when you shop hungry? So, how much more likely are you to order food you really don’t need if you’re starving while perusing the menu? Place your takeout delivery order after you’ve had a snack or order earlier in the day. Many restaurants offer the option to request a certain time for your order to be ready or delivered.
2. Find the Nutrition Facts
More and more restaurants are including calorie or nutritional information on their menus. This is a game changer if you’re trying to diet and lose weight. A salad may sound healthy but could contain over 1,800 calories if you’re not careful. No salad loaded with breaded, crispy chicken, onion straws, cheese and creamy dressing is a healthy choice. Circle the lowest calorie options on the delivery menu and then read each description. You may need to ask for no roll or a whole wheat alternative to fit into your meal plan. For your side, you might ask them to substitute steamed veggies for French fries or potato chips. If the menu doesn’t have nutrition information, ask if the chef has low carb diet suggestions. They likely will and it may be something that becomes your new favorite dish.
3. Avoid Appetizers, Drinks and Desserts
Calamari. Jalapeño poppers. Wings. Have you ever noticed how many starters are fried? And have you ever actually read how many calories and carbs are in a margarita? One 16-ounce frozen, classic margarita at a popular restaurant has over 500 calories and over 50 grams of carbs. And how about dessert? One piece of Strawberry Cheesecake at another popular chain restaurant has 1,000 calories and over 80 grams of carbs. That’s almost double the amount of net carbs we want you to eat in two days! By not even allowing yourself to glance at the appetizer and dessert sections on the menu, you’re eliminating a lot of temptation.
Instead of ordering apps and dessert from the restaurant, make these at home! You can satisfy your after-dinner sweet tooth with a homemade treat. Whip up some Bacon Wrapped Zucchini or Baked Avocado Fries with Chipotle Garlic Dip as a lightened-up starter, then enjoy an easy dinner delivered. After enjoying your savory feast, have some fun making dessert with the family. You’ll love our No-Bake Key Lime and Avocado Cheesecake or Chocolate Chip Cookies!
4. Watch Your Portions
Have to have it? Then order it. Here at South Beach Diet, we believe you’re less likely to overeat and binge on unhealthy foods if you allow yourself occasional treats. Remember: everything in moderation. To ensure you get a “treat” size portion with takeout or delivery, you’ll have to exercise some restraint. For example, you could ask the restaurant to make you half an order. You can also order the dish knowing you’ll split it with a family member (or two). According to Wbur.org, Dr. Deborah Cohen says that the average meal or snack eaten out of the house is 134 more calories than you would consume if you ate the same thing at your house. In other words, that restaurant is guaranteed to exceed a normal serving size. Ignorance is bliss, but you know better—now.
5. Skip the Freebees
The temptation doesn’t end after you hang up the phone. When your food arrives, watch out for complementary chips, fresh-baked bread, egg rolls or fortune cookies. Almost all freebees are carb heavy and can undo all the good decisions you made when you ordered. Use the extra time at home to cook up your own healthy sides. Craving some bread? Try out our comforting, homemade Almond Flour Bread recipe. Want something crunchy? Bake these two-ingredient Garlic Parmesan Chips. Our recipe section is filled with low-carb versions of your favorite snacks and sides!
6. Stick to the Basics
Don’t get it twisted; this doesn’t mean that you should order the most boring item on the menu. You can still enjoy a flavor-packed meal on your low carb diet. It’s just important to keep in mind the DIY guidelines from the South Beach Diet. Order something that contains the components of a balanced low-carb meal, including Proteins, Healthy Fats and non-starchy Vegetables. If you’d like to add a Good Carbohydrate to your dish, stick with high fiber options and keep your daily net carb intake limited 50 grams or less per day.
7. Refer to Our Dining Out Guide
Not sure what to order for takeout or delivery? Check out our Dining Out Guide for healthy menu options and ordering tips for the following cuisines:
- Coffee Shop