Picture this: you slept through your alarm, got caught in traffic on the way to work and haven’t had a second to scratch your head since you got into the office. Now it’s one o’clock and you realise you left your lunch in the fridge at home… Your only option is the food court next door, but, you like to eat healthily. What do you choose?

Sandwich

There’s nothing wrong with a good old sanger, but there are a few things to keep in mind when trying to dodge a calorie bomb. My top tips are to avoid jumbo sized rolls and slices of bread, fill it with plenty of veggies and opt for lean protein (think: eggs or grilled chicken, not processed meat or chicken schnitzel). Of course, say ‘no’ to butter and mayo, too.

Salad

Choose a base of non-starchy veg (read: not potato or corn), then add some quality protein and small amounts of smart carbs, like quinoa or brown rice. Be wise with the amount of avocado, nuts, cheese and oil-based dressing you add though – while they’re delicious and super nutritious, too much of them can really add up, calorie wise.

Sushi

If brown or black rice is on offer, that’s a great start. I’d suggest ordering a roll or two with cooked or raw fish and lots of veggies, rather than tempura fillings with lots of mayo. Up your veggie game by getting a side of high-protein edamame beans, and watch out for going overboard on sodium with too much soy sauce.

Scenario number two: you’ve been flat out all day, you’re tired AF and can’t be bothered cooking dinner when you get home from work. All you want to do is order Uber Eats, but you don’t want to let your healthy eating slide. Luckily, there’s no need to give in to your usual takeaway pizza. Here’s what to order instead.

BBQ chicken & salad

Your local chicken shop can be a life saver when cooking isn’t on the cards, but there’s a few decisions that can make or break a healthy dinner. A good old BBQ chook is a great source of protein, but say goodbye to energy-dense chicken skin and stuffing. Don’t order your chicken with a side of chips, either – instead, go for one of their healthy salads sitting in the window.

Grilled fish & salad

Same goes for the fish shop up the road, too. Instead of the typical deep-fried fare, get your fish grilled and pair it with a side salad. Be sure to opt for something with healthy carbs, like couscous, buckwheat or quinoa to keep you feeling satisfied.

Veggie-packed Thai stir fry

If you’re after something a little heartier, a Thai stir-fry can be a good choice. I’d suggest something simple like chicken and veggies with chilli and basil, rather than heavy satay or pad Thai. It’s also a good idea to bulk out your dinner with an extra side of veggies, and be portion-wise with rice. If you’re ordering in, you could even pair your stir fry with the microwave cup of brown rice you probably have sitting in your pantry, rather than the refined white rice that Thai food often comes with.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can follow her @honest_nutrition.

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