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Healthy takeout options to support weight loss
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Are you on the search for healthy takeout options? Takeout meals get a bad rep but can come in handy when life gets busy, or you simply don’t feel like cooking. 

You don’t have to give up eating takeout to reach your weight loss goals. In fact, I would recommend against giving up takeout or anything completely because it is not realistic or sustainable.

Instead, you can feel confident in your takeout order by following a few simple guidelines.

In this article, I’ll share my top 6 dietitian-approved tips for healthy takeout ordering. I will also discuss healthy takeout options for some of the most popular cuisines you enjoy.

6 Tips for Healthy Takeout Ordering

Healthy takeout options
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1. Skip the sugary add-ons.

When ordering takeout regularly, skip any sugary additions like beverages and desserts. 

Drinking soda or lemonade with your meal can add 20-30 extra grams of sugar. A brownie ice cream sundae could be almost double that! 

While these foods are okay in moderation, they don’t fill you up or offer much nutritional value. Save them for special occasions or celebrations rather than regular options. 

2. Split your plate with others. 

Takeout plates can come in huge portions. It’s easy to start mindlessly eating, and before you know it, your whole plate is gone. 

Portion control is a crucial component of any weight loss journey. Many of my clients share takeout with a friend or their partner or put half away right away so they’re not tempted to overeat just because it’s there. 

3. Beware of false advertising. 

It is true when they say salad isn’t always the healthiest option. Just because a menu item may look or sound healthy doesn’t mean it’s the best weight loss choice for you. 

For example, many salads can be filled with high-fat, high-calorie dressings or topped with bacon and cheese. When you add everything up, you could have gone with the spaghetti or chicken sandwich instead, which is probably more satisfying with fewer calories! 

To prevent this, get your dressing on the side, skip the cheese, and ask for a lean protein source with your salad like turkey, chicken, or shrimp.

4. Ask what’s in your meal. 

Knowing what is in your meal is essential for weight loss and sticking with a calorie deficit. Not every menu will tell you the exact ingredients or cooking methods used with your meal. They may leave out sauces, butter, or extra salt used on the dish. 

Don’t be afraid to ask how the food is prepared or to see a complete ingredient list. This way, you can make the best, most informed choice when choosing what takeout dish to get. This can also be helpful if you’re tracking your food.

5. Make simple healthy swaps.

You don’t have to swap out your whole takeout meal to increase the health factor. Simple healthy swaps such as choosing a green salad instead of fries over lean protein over red meat can go a long way. 

6. Balance your plate. 

Balancing your plate is an easy way to ensure your meal supports your weight loss goals. A balanced plate involves prioritizing a source of carbs, protein, and healthy fats at most meals. 

Bonus points for including fiber-filled fresh produce!

For example,

  • If your meal comes with salmon and rice, ask for a serving of steamed green beans on the side. 
  • If you order a grain salad with grains and vegetables, add a protein source on top, like black beans or grilled chicken.

7. Don’t order when you’re starving.

If you’re ordering takeout when very hungry, it will be harder to make a good choice. It’s just like going to the grocery store hungry. If you do this, you probably have found you end up buying things not on your list and buying a lot more processed, high-calorie food. 

When you’re starving, your body craves something to give it quick energy and will usually lean towards the higher-calorie comfort food items on the menu. This is human nature, but it can get in the way of your best intentions. 

To prevent this, don’t skip meals or wait too long to eat. If you’re getting ready to order takeout and you’re starving, eat a few grapes or another piece of fruit quickly to curb it. You’ll be in a better headspace to order and make a more selective choice.

Healthy Takeout Options for Every Cuisine

Making healthy choices while eating out is possible no matter what the cuisine. Here are some healthy takeout options and swaps you can make depending on your cuisine of choice.


Healthy Italian takeout cuisine
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Italian food gets a bad rep for being high in carbs and unhealthy fats due to all of the pizza, pasta, and cheese. But healthy takeout options are found at most Italian restaurants!

Load up on veggies

Load up on veggies to offset all of the refined white carbs in many Italian dishes. This will help to fill you up with more fiber and keep you satisfied for longer. 

Get a side of steamed greens that you can mix with your pasta, or try a refreshing Caprese salad as a side dish. 

Mussels or salmon

Most Italian restaurants offer different seafood options alongside pizza and pasta. 

Seafood is an excellent protein choice for weight loss because it is typically lower in fat and calories than red meat. Try ordering mussels as a starter or a Tuscan salmon entree with a side of veggies next time you order Italian. 

Get a thin-crust pizza

Craving pizza but want to make it weight-loss friendly? Order a thin-crust variety! 

Choosing a thin crust option or cauliflower crust can save hundreds of calories and can add a veggie and fiber boost in the case of the cauliflower as well!

Choose tomato-based sauces

Italian cuisine is filled with cream and heavy sauces that are typically loaded with calories and saturated fat. sauces that can add sneaky grams of saturated fat and calories. 

Instead of carbonara or alfredo, opt for tomato or marinara-based sauces instead that are just as delicious. 

Dietitian tip: ask the restaurant if they can add ground turkey or chicken to your tomato sauce for a protein boost!


Healthy chinese takeout cuisine
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Chinese has always been one of my favorite places to get takeout food, and I know many others agree. 

However, Chinese takeout contains high amounts of sodium, fat, and even hidden sugar, which can hinder weight loss goals if not eaten in moderation. 

Get the sauce on the side 

Chinese food is known for its tasty sauces that are often filled with sodium and sugar. Ask for your sauce on the side, and then pour as much as you need over your food (you’ll probably need a lot less than you think!). 

Try a broth-based option 

A broth-based soup or ramen can be a nutritious takeout option to support weight loss. 

Egg drop, miso, or hot and sour soup are all great choices to experiment with. They are typically low in calories and high in volume, getting you more bang for your buck calorie-wise.  

Steamed dumplings or vegetables

Steamed dumplings are a healthier option than fried ones. It uses less oil and preserves the food’s natural nutrients

Steamed veggies are also a healthier choice than tempura veggies that are fried (and can bother your stomach too). Both of these options taste delicious and are much better for you.

Chicken or tofu and broccoli 

The simple combination of protein and a steamed vegetable always make for a low-carb, balanced meal. 

Chicken or tofu with broccoli is one popular dish that covers all of your bases. Order steamed broccoli, and have your sauce on the side for a healthy takeout meal. 


Healthy Mexican Takeout Options
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Craving Mexican takeout? Nothing is better than Taco Tuesday! 

Mexican cuisine can easily be balanced and healthy with a few simple swaps.

Swap brown rice for white rice

Traditional Mexican burrito bowls and sides of rice come with white rice. Swapping brown rice for white rice is a simple change you can make to support your weight loss goals.

Brown rice has a higher fiber content than white rice, making it a better (and more filling) healthy takeout food. This means it will probably fill you up with fewer calories, making it easier for you to stay in a calorie deficit. 

Plant-based options 

Opting for a plant-based option can lower your takeout order’s calorie and fat content. Bean burritos or vegetable fajitas are two healthy choices that are delicious and nutritious. 


Try guacamole instead of queso or a cheese appetizer as a starter. Avocado consists of healthy fats and beneficial fiber compared to the empty calories in cheese. 

Just make sure not to overdo it on the guac because the calories can add up quickly. 

My clients find it helpful to portion out a couple of tablespoons onto a separate plate rather than continuing to dip them back into the bowl. That way, you can see how much you eat and are less likely to go overboard.

Dietitian tip: find yourself filling up on chips too fast before your meal? Ask for a plate of fresh cut-up vegetables for you to dip instead. 


Healthy takeout food
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American food is a collection of many cultures put together. Because of this, the menus can be all over the place regarding choices.

However, healthy takeout is still possible while eating out at American restaurants. Your summer weight loss goals don’t need to suffer!

Go for the soup and salad

Soups and salads provide a few servings of vegetables while still keeping you full and satisfied. Add a protein source like salmon or grilled chicken to your salad to boost the protein content. 

If there is a broth or vegetable-based soup, these are usually lower in calories and fat than cream-based options like lobster bisque. 

Ditch the fries

Instead of fries, order a side salad with dressing on the side or a plate of steamed seasonal vegetables. If you still want potatoes in some form, mashed or roasted potatoes are a healthier alternative. 

Dietitian tip: sweet potato fries are another nutrient-dense swap for regular french fries as they provide more vitamin A, fiber, and potassium per serving. 


Indian takeout food for weight loss
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Indian cuisine has lots of takeout options that can align with your healthy eating habits

Many Indian menu items use plant-based proteins that are low in calories and filled with beneficial micronutrients your body needs. 

Get a side of hummus and vegetables or roti

Hummus comes from ground chickpeas and spices. It is high in nutrients like fiber and protein that promote sustainable weight loss. 

In fact, a recent study noted that eating chickpeas and hummus can have a positive impact on weight management and blood sugar regulation, which can help control cravings!

Ask for a side of vegetables or roti to dip in your hummus. Roti is a type of flatbread made from whole-wheat flour and water, making it a more nutritious substitute for naan or pita bread. 

Dal dishes

In Indian cuisine, a basic Dal dish comes with lentils and turmeric powder. Takeout places usually add other ingredients, such as beans, peas, onions, jalapenos, and more. 

Lentils and other legumes are high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols that can help prevent diabetes and unwanted weight gain. Try ordering a Dal dish next time you eat Indian takeout. 

Chana Masala

Chana masala is another high-protein plant-based dish that is a healthy Indian takeout choice. It is a type of chickpea curry that is served over basmati rice and with vegetables.

Dietitian tip: takeout restaurants can give huge portions, often two or three servings. Pre-portion half of your chana masala on a plate and throw the other half in a meal-prep container to eat tomorrow. 

Making Healthy Choices When Eating Out Is Possible

By implementing these simple tips, you can eat healthy no matter where you are. 

Remember that nobody is perfect, and food is about enjoyment too. You don’t have to miss out on social events or eating at restaurants in order to lose weight. 

The best thing you can do is make a good meal choice based on the options available around you. 

For more expert weight loss tips and tricks to get you started in your journey, check out these blogs:

Looking for help navigating your weight loss journey? Contact me to schedule a free nutrition strategy call to see if my weight loss program is a good fit for your needs.