Eating Out and Take-aways

How to adapt the menu to suit you

Soup is a good starter, but avoid creamy accompaniments and croutons. Ask for salad dressings to come separately, that way you can stay in control. Balsamic vinegar is a good alternative. When having meats, avoid the garlic and herb butter sauces. Instead go for tomato based sauces or a little mustard/horseradish. Seared dishes are a healthier choice as they will only have a light coating of oil. Ask for vegetables to come without added cheese sauces/butter. Be realistic about puddings, really the only lower calorie options will be a fresh fruit salad or sorbet. Don’t be afraid to ask the waitress/waiter for more details on the meals!


Try to look at the menu online if you are not familiar with the restaurant. Don’t starve yourself all day!! Make sure that you keep especially active that week.

Top tips

Drink water alongside your meal, this will help you to feel full. Avoid fried foods. Ask for substitutions, most restaurants can accommodate these requests. People eat up to 60% more at buffets, so be careful!! Portion sizes are often larger when eating out or having a take-away. Don’t eat it all just because you have paid for it, eat until you are satisfied! Why not share a starter or pudding? Half the amount means half the calories! Ask for jacket potatoes without butter. Look for baked, grilled, poached or steamed choices. These will have less calories. Many restaurants will now highlight healthier options on the menu.


Deep fried extras such as samosas and bhaji’s are full of saturated fat and calories, so be wary of ordering too many extras. Tandoori and tikka dishes are the healthiest choices on the menu. These come without a sauce and usually have a side salad. When ordering dishes with sauces try to avoid creamy masala/korma dishes. They are loaded with calories and saturated fat. Tomato based sauces will be lower in calories. Naan breads also contain a lot of calories. Choose plain boiled rice rather than pilau rice to limit the calories.


Go for plain rice (rather than egg fried rice) or noodles as accompaniments. Avoid deep fried foods, such as prawn crackers and pork or prawn balls. Healthier choices include: chicken with mushroom, chow mein dishes, szechaun prawn.


Go for tomato based pasta dishes, rather than cheesy, creamy dishes. For example an arrabiata sauce is better than carbonara. Vegetarian choices may be healthier, for example aubergine bake. Thin crust pizza will have less calories than deep pan. Ask for salads with separate dressings. Watch the extras, such as garlic bread/dough balls.


As well as containing significant calories, alcohol can also lead you to make unhealthy food choices. Excess intake of alcohol is related to various health concerns, such as poor sleep, certain cancers, liver disease, gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. Recommended safe levels of alcohol intake are maximum 3-4 units per day for men and 2-3 units per day for women (with at least 2-3 alcohol free days per week). A unit of alcohol is half pint of standard strength cider, lager or beer (3.5% AVB) a pub measure of sprit (35ml) half a standard glass of wine (175ml) a pub measure of sherry, vermouth or liqueur

See below for some typical take away dishes/alcoholic drinks and the nutritional value

Food/DrinkNutritional Information
Baileys; 37ml129 calories5.8g Fat
1 pint of beer182 calories
1 can (550ml) Stella lager221 calories
Glass wine (120ml)87 calories
Glass champagne (120ml)89 calories
Gin and slimline tonic (1 pub measure)52 calories
Chicken Korma (350g)668 calories51g fat(20g saturated fat)
Vegetable Balti(350g)373 calories28g fat(5.3g saturated fat)
Chicken Dupiaza (350g)397 calories25g fat(4.9 saturated fat)
Chinese spare ribs (340g)873 calories64g fat(10.2g saturated fat)
Sweet & Sour pork, battered (300g)705 calories42g fat(6.9g saturated fat)
Egg fried rice (270g)491 calories13g fat(1.6g saturated fat)
prawns with vegetables (350g)297 calories16g fat(1.8g saturated fat)
Recipe Modification Most of your favourite recipes can be easily adapted to make them lower in fat, lower in sugar and higher in fibre.

Things to consider:

Can you reduce the amount of fat or sugar used? Is there a low fat or low sugar alternative you could use instead?


Reduce total fat content. Change to healthier fats (monounsaturated/polyunsaturated). Reduce total sugar content. Increase fibre content. Reduce overall energy/calorie content of the recipe.


How to Reduce the Fat

Use semi-skimmed or skimmed milk instead of full-fat milk. Use reduced fat cheeses, where possible. Try to avoid making sauces with fat. Mix the sauce by blending the milk with the flour, trying to avoid the roux method. Energy Savings:Cheese Sauce –Using low fat milk (skimmed or semi-skimmed) and reduced fat cheese will save 400-600 calories per pint. White Sauce –Using low fat milk and no margarine will save 400-600 calories per pint. Custard – Using low fat milk and a sweetener, rather than sugar, will save 400-600 calories per pint.

Cooking with meat:

Trim any visible fat from the meat. Choose lean meat when buying. mince is a cheap, lower fat alternative. Drain off excess fat after browning the mince. Energy savings: A small serving of mince without the fat removed → 250 calories. Remove the fat to save calories…….↓ A small serving of mince with the fat removed → 180 calories.


Remove skin from poultry to save calories……↓ 100g (4oz) grilled chicken with skin = 216kcals, 14g fat 100g (4oz) grilled skinless chicken= 148kcals, 5.4g fat Added Fats: Change to lower fat alternatives where possible, e.g. reduced fat cheese/mayonnaise/lower fat yoghurts/reduced fat spread……….↓ 15g (2 pats) butter= 110kcals, 12g fat 15g low fat spread= 57kcals, 6g fat Substitute cream with natural yoghurt, crème fraiche or fromage frais. 150g natural yoghurt = 86 kcal 150g fromage frais, low fat = 69 kcal 150g crème fraiche, extra light = 137 kcal 150g single cream =185 kcal 150g double cream = 657 kcal Make sure you still choose the lower fat/reduced calorie varieties of any cream substitute!!

Healthier Cooking Methods:

Use a non- stick pan and measure out the quantity of oil used using a tablespoon (1 tablespoon to 4 people). Grill, microwave, bake, boil, steam or poach rather fry foods. Use small amounts mature cheese instead of mild for more flavour Drain off excess fat before adding meat, vegetables, lentils or beans to a dish. Use skimmed or semi-skimmed instead of whole milk in drinks, and in milky puddings. If you find the taste a bit light add one tablespoon of dried skimmed milk powder to every pint of milk. Use a sweetener at the end instead of sugar. Remove any visible fat and skin from meat and poultry, skim off any fat from the curries. Use less butter or margarine or try a low fat spread sparingly. Eat less meat and poultry and more dahl, lentils, pulses, beans and vegetables. Try to include a salad with your meal. Reduce intake of salt in cooking and at the table.