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Who doesn’t enjoy a meal out or some takeaway with friends on the weekend? It can be a great way to try new foods, a night off from cooking, and a break from the washing up (haha!).

On average, Aussies consume roughly 35% of their daily energy intake from discretionary foods, such as takeaway, soft drinks, alcohol, lollies and cakes. So, the energy we consume from these types of foods does play a significant role in our weight.

How often we eat out and what foods we choose will impact whether we are successful in weight management or weight loss goals. Let’s take a look at some common meals and cuisines and how these might fit in with your nutrition goals.

Italian

These are often quite high in energy compared with pasta or pizza you might make at home. This is generally due to large amounts of processed meats and cheese. A large standard pepperoni pizza from Crust has about 6000kj. Eating a whole pizza is equivalent to consuming an entire day’s energy in one meal. Considering you need to be in an energy deficit of at least 1000kj/day for weight loss (possibly more), eating an entire pizza can easily undo your weight loss efforts. Similarly, creamy pastas also pack a punch when it comes to energy content. Here are our top tips to reduce the energy of your meal:

  • Pick a tomato-based over a creamy sauce
  • Choose vegetarian or seafood over meat
  • Share a pizza with a friend
  • Skip the high energy drinks such as soft drinks/alcohol and stick to mineral water or diet soft drinks
  • Choose a garden salad or steamed veg as a side to help fill you up and reduce the amount of pizza/pasta consumed

Indian/Thai

A lot of curry dishes offered at these restaurants are made using coconut milk or cream-based sauces, as well as cuts of meat that are higher in fat, such as chicken thigh. Entrees are often fried foods such as samosas or spring rolls and this is often combined with a large amount of rice. A serve of curry, fried rice and spring rolls can easily exceed 4000kj. Here are some tips for making healthier choices at these restaurants:

  • Skip the entrée (or choose a steamed dumpling/rice paper roll)
  • Pick boiled rice over a fried rice
  • Have at least one veggie-based dish
  • Choose tomato-based curries such as rogan josh, tandoori or madras

Fish and Chips

Battered fish and chips are cooked in oil and deep-fried, with a medium piece of fish and serve of chips equating to roughly 4000kj. For the average male, this is about 50% of their daily requirements, and even more, if they are trying to lose weight. Here are our top tips for cutting down on energy:

  • Choose a grilled piece of fish
  • If having this meal takeaway, cook your own chips at home in the air fryer
  • Skip the creamy tartare sauce
  • Be mindful of portion sizes and try to limit the chips to a handful

Burgers/Fast Food Chains

There are some very extravagant burgers available at niche burger stores which are a lot larger and more energy-dense than your average hamburger. Loaded with extras such as hash browns or fries, extra slices of cheese and bacon as well as buns made out of doughnuts. You can see how these would be packed with energy. Some burger chains provide the energy content of burgers on their menu (such as Grill’d and McDonald’s). This makes it a lot easier for you to make an informed decision about how much energy you consume.

  • Try to stick to burgers that are <2000kj
  • Skip the added fries
  • Don’t be fooled by the salad options, as these can sometimes exceed the energy of a burger

While eating out can fit in with your weight loss goals, it is important to make healthy choices and limit portion sizes to ensure you remain in an energy deficit. Try to limit eating out occasions to once per week. You could even try inviting friends over for a meal instead of going out as you’ll have more control over the energy content of the food.

To find out more about healthy eating and how you can fit takeaway options into your diet, check out our other blogs or contact one of our dietitians here.