How to enjoy takeaway and be healthy

It’s Friday night and all you want is some comforting takeaway to end the working week. Dietitian Georgia Houston shares some practical advice on how you can still enjoy your favourite foods.

When it comes to having a healthy and balanced diet, the good news is you don’t have to sacrifice your Friday night Uber Eats or Menulog – after all, what is life without some delicious Chinese food after a long week?

Like everything in life, when it comes to takeaway, there are healthy and unhealthy choices. When ordering, the key thing to consider is the ratios of your food groups: vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates.

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

When ordering takeaway, here’s what to aim for

  • Half your plate (two open hands) to be vegetables or salad
  • One-quarter of your plate (palm-size) to be lean protein
  • One-quarter of your plate (fist-size) to be carbohydrates
  • Note, to maintain a healthy weight, the average adult daily intake is 8700kJ.

Here are some practical ways on how to translate these ratios into your favourite takeaway

Crust pizza

  • Healthy option: Szechuan Chilli Prawn (4350kJ) or Vegetarian Supreme (4670kJ).
  • Vegetables: Ask for added vegetables on the pizza or add a side salad.
  • Protein: Top with seafood/chicken/ beef, and ask for reduced cheese.
  • Carbohydrate: Choose a thin over thick pizza base.
  • Avoid: Pepperoni (6580kJ) and Peri Peri Chicken (6140kJ).


  • Healthy option: Wholemeal Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap (908kJ) or Filet-o-Fish (1320kJ).
  • Vegetables: Swap the side of chips for a garden salad.
  • Protein: Choose grilled chicken/fish.
  • Carbohydrate: What is Maccas without chips? But, you can swap from a large (1530kJ) to a small (860kJ) and halve your kilojoules.
  • Avoid: Double Quarter Pounder (3470kJ) or BBQ Bacon Angus Burger (3310kJ).


  • Healthy option: Steamed fish with Chinese greens and steamed rice.
  • Vegetables: Opt for steamed or stir-fried vegetables as the base of your meal.
  • Protein: Steamed or grilled seafood/ chicken/beef or wonton soup and steamed dumplings.
  • Carbohydrate: Serve with 1⁄2-1 cup steamed rice (627kJ per cup), rather than fried rice (1548kJ per cup).
  • Avoid: Anything deep-fried, such as mini spring rolls.


  • Healthy option: Small tomato pasta with garden salad on the side, or grilled chicken/veal/steak with roasted veggies.
  • Vegetables: Ask for added veggies where possible and opt for vegetarian, tomato- based pizza and pasta.
  • Protein: Grilled seafood/chicken/beef.
  • Carbohydrate: Opt for your pasta to be served as an entrée size and swap your garlic-bread starter for a minestrone soup.
  • Avoid: Creamy pasta dishes and processed meats such as salami.


  • Healthy option: 6-inch Wheat Bread with Chicken Strips (1167kJ).
  • Vegetables: Fill your sub with as much colour as possible – spinach, carrot, cucumber, red onion.
  • Protein: Choose chicken strips/classic chicken/turkey/ tuna/roast beef.
  • Carbohydrate: Choose 6-inch over 12-inch. Opt for a wheat or rye bread over white or Italian Herbs & Cheese.
  • Avoid: 12-inch Meatball Melt (3840kJ) and steer clear of creamy dressings.


  • Healthy option: Chicken tandoori/tikka with cucumber raita and steamed rice. Other healthy options include tomato-based curries with veggies.
  • Vegetables: Look for a vegetarian main that is cooked in a tomato, not coconut, base.
  • Protein: Opt for oven-baked or grilled chicken/fish/beef.
  • Carbohydrate: Be mindful of extras such as pappadums and naan, and stick to 1⁄2-1 cup rice.
  • Avoid: Creamy, coconut-based curries and fried foods, such as samosas.