Sometimes, it can feel impossible to find the time to cook three meals a day. As a result, many of us find ourselves ordering takeout more than we anticipate. 

Honestly, it’s hard to beat the convenience of having a complete, piping hot meal delivered to our doorstep—especially when we are winding down for an evening of gaming. 

Takeout orders can take a heavy toll on our wallets with delivery fees and tips for drivers. If we aren’t mindful about our choices, takeout can also take a heavy toll on our bodies. 

Generally speaking, takeout food is calorically dense and increases the risk of obesity and heart disease. That doesn’t necessarily mean we should shame ourselves into avoiding the convenience of takeout. Instead, examining the menus, trying new things, and taking a more mindful approach to making food selections can keep these unwanted side effects away.

Knowing what to look for when placing a healthy takeout order can be life-changing. Below are some tips in navigating takeout more mindfully in the pursuit of good nutrition while still achieving the convenience we seek. 

Hydro Homies Unite


Many of us unintentionally over-consume calories by drinking sugary beverages. Soft drinks, like soda and iced tea, are major culprits in takeout orders because most meals include them. However, a single 12-oz Coke exceeds the daily recommended sugar intake for women by 3 teaspoons.

To avoid over-consuming calories and sugar, if a drink is included, ask for water with your meal. Much like a health potion, water is your life-source energy. Some may say that water is boring and tasteless, but this small sacrifice will benefit you in the long run.

This isn’t to say you can’t indulge in sweet drinks as a treat every once in a while! However, reaching for a sugary beverage every time you’re thirsty is a habit that might cost you later in life. 

Luckily, there are awesome communities, like r/hydrohomies on Reddit, that help make the act of drinking water more fun and relatable. 

Size Matters… Sometimes

Most restaurants are dishing out portions large enough for more than one meal. However, it’s important to know that looks can often be deceiving. 

Although you may only order a sandwich and french fries, the calories, carbohydrates, and sugars packed into the meal are enough to satisfy you two (or three) times over. Understanding quality vs. quantity in food selection is a great place to start when learning more about managing your individual portion sizes.

RELATED: Nutrition: How Your Diet Changes Your Game

In the cases where portions are very large, one meal from a restaurant is enough food for two smaller meals throughout the day. To get the most for your money and to prevent unwanted weight gain, try stopping your meal halfway through and immediately drinking a large glass of water

Within 10-15 minutes, you’ll feel more satiated thanks to the water filling up your stomach. It’s normal and ok to still be hungry after this, especially if you’re used to consuming the whole portion. Challenge yourself to keep the rest of the food in the fridge until the next meal.

Get Baked

Popular foods like french fries, chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks, and onion rings can make almost anyone’s mouth water. They’re delicious, salty, crispy, and literally golden. They easily satisfy cravings and give us a rush of dopamine, the pleasure chemical.

Unfortunately, as good as it feels in the moment of consumption, regularly eating fried foods leads to health complications. Over enough time, it can lead to reaching “Game Over” earlier than desired.

When ordering out, skip the deep-fried and pan-fried options and try the baked or grilled items. Typically, they are still super crispy and tasty! In fact, baked or grilled items tend to be more juicy and flavorful due to the way they are prepared. 

Is Butter a Carb?

As delicious as they are, refined carbohydrates found in white rice, bread, pasta, and potatoes can really slow us down and lead to unwanted weight gain over time. When ordering takeout, try to hold the starchy meals and double down on the protein and veggies instead. 

This isn’t to say you should avoid carbohydrates all together! In fact, we require carbohydrates to function. Luckily, there are many alternatives to refined carbohydrates that taste delicious. If you’re ordering a dish that comes with a choice of sides, try:

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Brown or Wild Rice
  • Beans 

Topping it Off

It’s difficult to make healthier choices when we are bombarded with advertisements with photos of big, juicy burgers, french fries, sodas, and pizza on our meal delivery apps. The temptation can be hard to say “no” to.

It’s important to remember that moderation is key, and extreme changes aren’t always necessary for living a healthier lifestyle. Taking the adjustments recommended in this article into consideration for your next takeout order is a small step you can take to being more mindful about what you’re consuming. 

Challenge yourself to build a more nutritious meal during your next takeout order and see how it makes you feel!