Euro 2012: guide to a healthier takeaway
Jun 08 2012
Because loads of great sport on TV for three weeks needn't mean piling on the pounds.
Euro 2012 gets underway today. It's the start of a three-week extravaganza of football and something of a hibernation period for most British men, who'll struggle to escape the gravitational pull of their sofas.
Almost inevitably, our appreciation of the on-screen action will be fuelled by beer and bad food; so we consulted the experts to help us find the healthiest junk food options for men looking to let things slide a little - but not too much.
Why's it unhealthy? The average Indian takeaway contains 1,338 Calories and according to consumer watchdog Which? It also contains 23g of artery-clogging saturated fat, just over your recommended daily intake of 20g.
What can you change? Emma Alessandrini, a nutrition expert from Revital suggests avoiding sides as they are often deep fried and can really increase calorie intake.
"A great way of making Indian takeaway healthier is by choosing vegetarian or vegan meals, as they generally contain lower amounts of saturated and trans fats," says Alessandrini.
Fish and chips
Why's it unhealthy ? Ah, the great British classic. There's protein and vegetables on the plate, especially if you order mushy peas, so what could be unhealthy about that?
"Usually the fish and chips that you choose to buy are battered and deep fried, pumping up the levels of fat and oil consumed," explains Ruben Ares of fitness and lifestyle consultants the R&O Group .
What can you change? "Swap your fried fish and chips for grilled fish and chips," Ruben advises. As well as cutting down on the calories by almost half it can also drastically reduce the total fat content by up to 75%.
Why's it unhealthy? Pizzas are a relatively healthy option when it comes to in-match meals, with half of a medium pizza weighing in at 836 calories. However, toppings can change all of that and the average 22.5g of saturated fat contained in the same portion explains why.
What can you change? "Try making your own Italian foods," Alessandrini advises. "They're not difficult and often contain vastly reduced amounts of salt when homemade. You can also choose vegetarian options as they don't contain the carcinogens found in processed meats."
Why's it unhealthy? With its fresh aromatic flavours Thai food can sometimes feel like a healthy alternative when it comes to takeaways, but there's a catch. "A combination of starchy white noodles fried in oil is a good enough reason to clog your arteries," Ruben Ares tells me.
What can you change? By swapping sticky rice and pad thais for plain boiled rice you can help to make things healthier. Choosing a dish like chicken with cashew nuts, rather than coconut milk-laden curries, is also a sure-fire way to cut down on the fat content.
Why's it unhealthy? Your average Chinese can contain up to 1,436 Calories, that's more than half of your recommended daily intake. Depending on what sauce you order they can also contain up to 19 teaspoons of sugar.
What can you change ? "There are many dishes which are actually considered healthy," Alessandrini explains. "Swap fried products for steamed or boiled and replace heavier sauces with lighter options such as lemon and sesame oil."
Why's it unhealthy? A large doner and chips might be a great way to end a night out, but it's not so great for your gut.
What can you change? Swap your doner kebab for a chicken shish and salad, suggests Ruben Ares. It contains a fraction of the fat and just a quarter of the calories of its ever-popular alternative.
Why's it unhealthy? With sides and soft drinks the humble burger can become a potent calorific cocktail.
What can you change? "We all love a burger but they are also loaded with high amounts of fat, salt and the larger options on the menu will hit you with massive amounts of calories," Ruben Ares tells me. The best answer is to make it yourself using lean mince and baked, rather than fried, chips. It's not hard, takes very little time and, as well as being healthier, tastes better too.
Why's it unhealthy? "It is important to remember that beer contains huge amounts of empty calories," so says Emma Alessandrini as she breaks the hearts of blokes across Britain. "On average 1 pint of beer contains 182 calories and negligible nutrients and high calorie intake leads to weight gain and obesity."
What can you change? The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives, from a growing selection of great light/low-alcohol beers to organic ales, which have far less artificial ingredients.
Why's it unhealthy? "Soft drinks contain no nutrients that the body requires," so says Ruben Ares. "Instead they contain high amounts of caffeine, simple sugars, sugar substitutes, salt and food colourings which are all bad for you!"
What can you change? So does our spoilsport have any advice? "The best thing you can drink is some good quality H2O, the king of liquids!" If you're not a fan of the clear stuff, trying adding some lemon, it will add some flavour and help aid digestion too.
Why's it unhealthy? Why is it that all the best tasting things are bad for us? "Because most of the things that you snack on like crisps and biscuits are full of fat, salt and oil," Ruben Ares helpfully explains.
What can you change? "Replace 'normal' snack food with foods higher in protein, to keep you feeling fuller for longer," is Emma Alessandrini's suggestion. "Nuts, seeds and legumes are all high in protein and can be bought pre-roasted as a tasty treat."
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