Sure, you could bust out the chopping knife, cutting board, freshly washed produce, iron skillet... ugh, let’s stop there, because I’m getting tired just thinking about cooking a meal from scratch. Or you could pay a kindly stranger to bring a steaming-hot meal to your door for a night of #Netflixandstuffyourgreedyface.
You probably know delivery and takeout food isn’t going to be as healthy as your average home-cooked meal. But it's SO convenient -- and if you make the right choices, it doesn’t have to wreck your diet. Dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus, owner of Nutrition Starring You, and internal medicine physician Monya De, share tips for getting your gluttony on in a healthier way.
The conceptual framework
Regardless of cuisine, the healthiest meals start with the right portion sizes and proportions of proteins, vegetables, and carbohydrates. So before you fire up Seamless, get the concept right. Remember the food pyramid, and before that, the square meal? Good. Now forget you ever heard of them, because the USDA’s new dietary guidelines are all about a plate: “Half [of your plate] should be produce, a quarter is protein, and a quarter is whole grains,” says Harris-Pincus. With that in mind, pick your poison.
Chinese food: think steamed
Always, always order your meal steamed with sauce on the side, says Harris-Pincus, who was obese as a child and now knows “every trick in the book” when it comes to saving calories. Otherwise, even an innocuous dish like chicken and broccoli will likely be stir-fried, soaking up plenty of oil and salt before taking a plunge in high-calorie sauce.
And the truth is, you don’t need that much sauce to impart flavor -- a few tablespoons will do. “By ordering steamed veggies with chicken or shrimp, brown rice, and your favorite sauce on the side, you can save hundreds of calories,” Harris-Pincus says. Make sure the steamed veggies take up half your plate, the protein a quarter, and the brown rice another quarter, and your meal will help you soar like a majestic golden dragon.