A guide to healthier takeaways

Table full of plates with food, including tikka kebabs

Everyone loves a takeaway. They’re tasty, convenient and can feel like a really special occasion.

A takeaway doesn’t need to hinder your progress when it comes to healthy eating or even weight loss. It’s just best to have them less frequently (once or twice a month) and get back to your normal healthy eating habits after.

If, however, you’d like some ideas on how to make those takeaways a little bit more nutritious, here are a few handy tips and swaps.

1. Plan ahead 

If you know that you are going to be having a takeaway, have a look at the menu ahead of time and decide what you’ll have.

This way, you’ll be making your choice before you’re starving – which makes it far easier to make a healthier choice!

Don’t be afraid to ask if dishes can be altered to make them healthier and more well-balanced.

2. Be mindful of portion sizes

Takeaways generally offer larger than normal portion sizes. It may be worth sharing a meal or keeping half a portion for lunch the next day with a side of vegetables.

Takeaways often offer meal deals that include starters, a main, sides and a fizzy drink. Whilst these seem to be great value for money, they’re too much for one person. It’s best to stick to a single meal choice or share a meal offer with a friend or family member.

If you can, choose either a starter or a dessert, rather than both.

3. Opt for a healthy side dish

If you’d like to have a side dish, why not ask for a side salad or vegetables, instead of rice or chips? Alternatively, ask for a smaller serving of rice and chips and pair it with a side salad.

If you’ve already got some veggies in the fridge, don’t be afraid to create your own side dish to go with your takeaway.

4. Avoid fried, battered, crispy & creamy foods

Fried, battered, crispy and creamy dishes are often extremely high in calories.

Instead go for grilled, steamed, baked, roasted or stir-fried meat/tofu and vegetable options with tomato-based sauces.

5. Stay carb savvy

When it comes to takeaways, it’s pretty hard to avoid refined carbs and sugar altogether.

Of course, enjoying them as they come is fine if you intend to enjoy a takeaway occasionally.

But if you would like to healthify your takeaway, or tend to have more regular takeaways, be picky with the type and quantity of carbs you eat.

Swap a burger in a bun and fries for a burger with a side salad or a naked burger with fries
Swap pizza and a side of garlic bread for pizza with a side salad
Swap naan bread for yourself for naan bread and a side salad to share
Swap fizzy drinks for sparkling or plain water

Healthy takeaway swaps

Bowl of healthy chicken and cauliflower curry with poppadom

Fish & chips

Ask for a smaller portion of chips
Have a side of salad if they offer one (or make your own at home)
Choose fish coated in breadcrumbs rather than batter


Choose a thin crust pizza instead of a deep pan one
Load up on vegetable toppings such as artichokes, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and rocket
Pick unprocessed meat toppings such as grilled chicken, ground beef, prawn or tuna
Share a pizza or have an individual/small size instead of a large one
If you’re having a side, choose a salad instead of chips or garlic bread


Choose a tomato-based sauce instead of a creamy one
If portions are large, consider sharing a dish
Have a salad or some extra non-starchy vegetables on the side


Avoid deep-fried dishes such as spring rolls
Choose vegetable side dishes such as edamame or lettuce wraps instead of rice or noodles
Go for steamed dishes or stir-fries with plenty of vegetables
Avoid anything with ‘sweet’ in its name, as these dishes are extremely high in sugar
Choose grilled or sautéed meat or tofu with plenty of stir-fried vegetables


Choose tomato-based sauces such as madras or jalfrezi
Avoid deep-fried and creamy dishes
Opt for tandoori-cooked meat or tikka dishes (on a skewer)
Swap rice for a side of greens

Burgers and kebabs

Choose a shish kebab instead of a doner
Pick grilled chicken burgers over breaded or fried chicken
Avoid battered burgers
Leave the bun!

This blog is part 9 of 11 of our healthy eating & lifestyle for weight loss series.

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