• When you’re eating out or buying food that has been prepared for you, it’s often easy to have more fat, salt and calories than you realise.You can also end up eating more than you would have done if you had made the food yourself.Although it feels like good value for money when you get served a big portion, if you’re trying to eat healthily this means it’s all too easy to eat too much or have lots more fat and calories than you need to.The simplest tip, but not always the easiest, is to remember that you don’t need to clear your plate! Ideally try to eat slowly and stop when you’re full.Even when you’re out, try to choose the healthier options; here are a few tips to get you started.If you can’t tell from the menu how a dish is cooked then don’t be afraid to ask.

    As well as choosing healthier options, it’s also important to avoid eating too much. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds, so here are some common sense tips that you might find helpful:

    • Try not to have lots of bread or other nibbles before your meal arrives.
    • You could try sharing a starter or dessert with a friend.
    • When you’re ordering a variety of dishes, for example in a tapas bar or restaurant, try not to order too many.
    • Try waiting until you’ve eaten your main course before you order a dessert. You never know, you might already be full!

    If there is a dessert on the menu you really fancy, then don’t have a starter and go straight to your main course, or don’t have a main course and have two starters instead.

    If you want a healthy dessert, go for fresh fruit or sorbet.

    And to help you on your way to your 5-a-day fruit and veg:

    • If your meal doesn’t come with vegetables, order some as a side dish or have a salad with your meal  or as a starter.
    • If you go for dessert, choose one made with fruit.
    • Have salad in your sandwiches.
    • Have a glass of fruit juice with your meal.
    • Choose a meal made with lentils, beans or vegetables.

    When you’re eating at different restaurants or ordering takeaways, here are some practical suggestions for making healthier choices.

    Choose lower-fat options such as:

    • tandoori or madras with chicken, prawns or vegetables
    • plain rice and chapatti instead of pilau rice and naan
    • try to avoid creamy curries such as: Korma, passanda, massala

Remember for a healthy meal you should try to:

  • base your meal on starchy foods, so this means choosing plain rice or chapatti
  • have plenty of vegetables, so choose vegetable side dishes and a dhal

If you’re having pizza, choose lower-fat toppings, such as vegetables, ham, fish and prawns. You could ask for some extra veg on your pizza to bump up your daily fruit and veg portions.

But if you don’t want to increase the saturated fat content and number of calories in your meal, don’t ask for extra cheese.

When you have pasta, for the healthier option go for a sauce based on tomatoes or vegetables, rather than cream.

If you’re having a starter or a dessert then you could go for a smaller main meal such as a starter-size pasta with a side salad – Italian restaurants often serve two sizes of pasta dishes.

Rather than garlic bread, which often contains a lot of butter (and so is high in saturated fat and calories), you could try bruschetta, which is a tasty ciabatta bread topped with fresh tomatoes and herbs.

Choose lower-fat options such as:

  • steamed fish
  • chicken chop suey
  • Szechwan prawns

Remember anything in batter will be high in fat. Sweet and sour pork is usually battered (ask if you’re not sure).

Go for steamed or plain rice rather than egg-fried rice and watch out for those deep fried starters such as prawn crackers, dim sum and spring rolls.

Try to stick to stir-fried dishes or steamed dishes containing chicken, fish or vegetables.

Green and red curries contain coconut milk, which is high in saturated fat, so if you do choose a curry, try not to eat all the sauce. And have some steamed rice with your meal.
Burgers and kebabs
If you’re having a burger you can still go for the healthier option:

  • Choose grilled burgers made from lean meat or fish.
  • Ask for your burger without cheese or mayonnaise.
  • Ask for extra salad.


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