October 6, 2021

How to Pick Takeout, Based On Your Health Goals

You may have turned to ordering takeout as a way to satisfy your hunger pangs while you are locked down. It can be difficult to pick a a meal that is both tasty and healthy for you, with so many options.

Byrdie consulted nutrition experts to help him pick healthy takeout. Healthy means whatever makes you feel good.


  • Christina Jax, RDN. LDN. CLT. RYT is a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and health advisor for Lifesum & Gympass.
  • Rhiona Robertson works as a nutritionist and naturopath at The Beauty Chef.

Pick the Right Cuisine

Christina Jax, RDN/LDN, CLT/RYT, a registered nutritionist and dietitian, is the first thing to do. So that you can eat healthy, plant-based foods like Thai food, she recommends choosing a cuisine that includes lots of fresh or roasted vegetables. She suggests that broth-based soups or dishes heavy on greens are great options for Thai food lovers.

Rhiona Robertson is a nutritionist and naturopath at The Beauty Chef. She suggested Mediterranean cuisines because of their emphasis on fresh ingredients and fish and wide range of styles. There are many restaurants that offer Spanish, Turkish, Lebanese and Greek cuisines. Byrdie is told that many traditional cuisines include lots of fresh vegetables and lean proteins. You can find amazing Greek dishes that are full of fresh seafood, healthy salads, and dressings made with vinegars and olive oil instead of creamy mayonnaise and oils like canola.

Robertson says that once you have compiled a list of dishes that are often vegetable-heavy, your taste buds will decide what to try. If you love spice, perhaps try Thai. Spanish cuisine might appeal to you if you prefer seafood. Once you have narrowed your options to a few cuisines that are healthy and rich in vegetables, you’re on the right track.

Pick the Right Preparation

When it comes to choosing the right takeout meal for you, how the food was prepared is important. Jax advises against eating fried food. Although your body needs fat to remain healthy, trans fat is an extra type of fat your body can’t break down. Fried foods contain a lot of trans fat. This can lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases, according to research.

Robertson suggests avoiding high-salt foods. Some sodium, like fats, is good for your health. However, too much salt can cause your body to work harder to dissolve it. Too much salt and too little can cause high blood pressure, increase heart disease risk, and make it harder for your body to dilute it. Robertson says that trans fats and additional salt can be hidden in sauces, such as soy sauce, margarine, and barbecue sauce. He suggests that you place your sauce on the side, so you can choose how much to add to your meal.

Further, he says that if you decide to avoid these ingredients, there are many other options available. You can saute, steam, grill, bake, and many other ways to prepare food. She suggests that you search for these words in order to ensure that the food you order preserves as much nutrition as possible. If you don’t like fried food, you can request that the meal be prepared differently. For example, you might ask for your fish to grilled instead.

Robertson says that if all this seems overwhelming, Robertson recommends ordering something bright. “Look for a rainbow of colors from fruits and vegetables rich in phytochemicals, fiber and nutrients. She says that the more these colors are on your plate, then the better. To ensure that you have a balanced intake of macronutrients, it is important to pair this with lean protein sources like fish and plant-based proteins.

How to pick the Right Portion

Jax says that it doesn’t always come down to the ingredients. Sometimes, it’s all about how big the food is. Restaurants are known for serving large portions. Jax suggests that you split your meal into two so that you have a manageable amount of food. Robertson recommends ordering either the lunch or the side portion of the dish to reduce portions.

Jax adds that the same applies to sauces and side dishes. Sometimes, a vegetable-loaded salad may be covered in a dressing that is not only difficult for your body to digest but also masks the natural flavors of what you are eating. You can choose how saucy your meal should be by asking for condiments.

Robertson suggests another trick: Don’t eat until you are 80 percent full. Byrdie is told by Robertson that the sizes of portions can vary greatly. “Eating until your stomach is 80 percent full allows your brain and stomach to meet up, so don’t overeat,” she says.

The Takeaway

There is no right or wrong way to choose healthy takeout. Everybody is different and has their own preferences. You are the best judge of which foods make them feel good. No matter what your definition of healthy is, there are some things you should keep in mind when making a delivery decision. These include what type of food you eat, how it was prepared and what the portion sizes are. These criteria will help you choose a delicious, nutritious meal and reduce the amount of time spent debating which restaurant to order.