Takeaway restaurants resonate with our modern culture of eating on the go. The popularity of instant food order apps mean that no-one has to switch on their oven any more, chop up those pesky vegetables or do the washing up, but this growing habit of outsourcing our dietary needs has a definite downside.
Studies show that people who eat takeaways even twice a week gain an extra 4.5 kg (12 lbs) of weight over a 15-year period, and have worse blood glucose control, compared with people who rarely head to the local curry or fish and chip shop. The negative effects on metabolic health are seen in younger adults too, according to a study in 1900 26-36 year olds.
One of the most popular takeaway dishes, curry, is loaded with calories and fat, particularly when you add in their accompanying sauces, side orders and breads. It’s been estimated that a curry, naan bread a few poppadums would provide around 1500 calories – almost all of a typical woman’s daily calorie requirement (1800 kcal) and most of a man’s (2200 kcal).
So, apart from steering clear of your favourite indian restaurant, or making a simple curry at home, what can you do?
If you’re trying to cut calories, or guard against heart disease, the creamy korma, passanda or masala dishes are an absolute no-no, and the fattier cuts of lamb used in commercial curries should be given a miss too. Instead, go for chicken or prawn in a vegetable sauce such as balti, dopiaza, tandoori or madras.
As a side order, choose plain rice or a couple of chapathi, leaving out naan, bhajis, pakoras and poppadoms as these are high in fat and calories. Just a couple of bhajis can add up to 500 calories!
Another option is to make curry at home using high quality, low fat meats (lamb, pork, beef) or poultry or fish and add a ready-made sauce in a jar, taking care to use lower calorie and lower fat options. Dry spice mixes can also be used and often provide a healthier option.