No matter how much you love to whip up healthy meals at home, every now and there you're bound to feel like eating something besides your own cooking.
While takeout meals are fast, convenient, and tasty, they're often filled with extra fat and calories. Luckily, you don't have to ditch your weight loss goals if you decide to order takeout. If you familiarize yourself with key phrases found on many takeout menus, you can go light on the truly unhealthy dishes (or better yet, avoid them altogether) and indulge in some of the smarter choices. "Be choosy and ask questions about the food you order," advises nutritionist Jill Franks. "What is the food cooked in? Is it fried?" The more you know, the smarter you can order. Begin by looking out for the terms below, which often flag foods that are way high in SmartPoints:
Know the buzzwords: korma, tikka masala (creamy sauces!); pappadam (fried flatbread)
"It's not the meat, it's the sauces that are the problem," says Franks of Indian foods that are high in saturated fat and calories. "Go for something tomato-based or with vegetables, like a rogan josh, and eat it with brown rice," she suggests.
Try dishes baked in the Tandoor oven, like chicken tikka, tandoori, or shashlik, which are super flavorful but sauce-free. Tasty extras like pappadams and samosas are fried and loaded with saturated fat—and the same goes for many Indian breads, which can be another fat trap. "Naan bread is full of refined sugar, and fruity peshwari naan is even worse with added coconut," Franks says. Her suggestion: "If you have to have a naan, just eat a small piece or order it instead of rice."
RELATED: Let's go out for Indian food
Know the buzzwords: battered, crispy, pan-fried
At most Chinese restaurants, the danger lies in the deep fried foods. If you're low on SmartPoint dailies, you'll want to avoid anything cooked in batter, like pork or shrimp balls. And if a menu description includes the word "crispy," you can be sure it's fried, too. Instead of ordering fried rice, try plain rice (order brown rice, which contains more fiber) or noodles, Franks says. "Dishes with vegetables, chicken, and noodles are easy to digest. Go for a fine noodle, like Singapore-style.
RELATED: Ethnic food dining guides
Know the buzzwords: garlic bread, carbonara, baked
Skip the garlic bread, which can be coated in oil or butter, and begin with a side salad to fill up and fend off bread basket FOMO. If given the choice, order whole wheat pasta to kick your meal's nutrition profile up a notch. Tomato or vegetable-based sauces are always better than cream sauces (and yes, vodka sauce counts as a cream sauce); try arrabiata instead of carbonara (which contains eggs and pancetta). "A pasta filled with vegetables, like cannelloni with spinach and ricotta, is a healthier option than lasagna," Franks says.
RELATED: Let's go out for Italian food