Compensation Culture

If you know you’re going to be ordering a particularly indulgent takeaway on a certain night, it makes sense to compensate for the fact that it’s going to be higher in calories and fat than your usual dinner, right? So how do you do it? Simple – just eat extra-healthily at other times.

Stay Strong - Just-Eat.ie

Stay strong. It’s worth it. (source)

1. Eat Healthy, Don’t Eat Nothing

Some people like to ‘save themselves’ for a big takeaway supper by virtually starving themselves until the evening.

They call it ‘being good’, but it really – it’s counter-productive. If you’re ravenous when it comes to takeaway time, you’re just going to overeat – especially if you’re the one doing the ordering. They say never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry – the same rule applies!

It’s better to just eat healthily on a takeaway day, so eat lightly, but don’t try to be a saint, then make more of an effort to be good the next day.

2. Healthy Breakfast, Evening Meal

Have a light but sustaining breakfast of wholegrain cereal with some chopped nuts and fresh fruit, a light lunch – something like lentil soup with a crusty wholemeal roll, and a piece of fruit.

Base your evening meal around some lean protein, like lean meat, chicken or turkey, eggs, fish, beans or lentils. Add some starchy carbs: something like potatoes  – not chips, unless they’re low-fat oven chips – rice or pasta, and as much vegetables as you can pile on your plate, and you’ve got a healthy supper.

Penne-alla-Vodka - Just-Eat.ie

Mmmm, starchy. (source)

If you keep on eating high-calories meals, you’re going to put on weight. That’s a no-brainer, and that’s why you need to compensate for calories. But you also need to keep an eye on your intake of nutrients such as fat and salt.

3. Watch Out For Fat, Compensate With Veggies

If your takeaway is particularly heavy on fat (especially saturated fat), it’s particularly important to compensate for this. Too much fat and too many calories doesn’t just make you gain inches in the long term, it also makes you more likely to suffer heart problems later on in life – so be careful.

The moral of the story? Be aware that fat-laden meals really don’t do your circulatory system any favours, so keep them to a minimum – that means going for the lowest-fat options when you’re having a takeaway. If anything’s crispy or oily, that means high fat content.

crispy-shredded-beef - Just-Eat.ie

Remember – Crispy (like this) is fatty. (source)

When you do indulge on food high in fat, you should compensate by keeping your circulation healthy with foods like fruit and vegetables (which are rich in protective antioxidants), and moderate amounts of ‘good fats’ such as olive oil and the fats found in oily fish and avocadoes.

4. Avoid Salt, Eat Unprocessed Snacks

Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which also increases your risk of heart disease and strokes. So if you have a salty takeaway – for example one with lots of cheese, or soy sauce, or anything that tastes salty – you need to concentrate on low- or no-salt foods at other times.

The best way to reduce salt is to concentrate on ‘plain’ unprocessed foods – things like fruit and vegetables. You should obviously stay away from clearly salty foods like crisps, salted nuts and other salty snacks, bacon and other processed meats like sausages (also high in fat), but other less-obvious foods are also high in salt.

Check the labels of soups, ketchup and other table sauces, pasta and cook-in sauces, ready meals and even bread and breakfast cereals – you may get a shock!  Choose those lowest in salt, and look out for foods flagged up as low in salt – for example foods with a ‘green’ traffic label for salt.

5. Know When To Treat

An occasional ‘treat meal’ isn’t a problem, if it helps you to stick to a healthy diet the rest of the time.

But when you’re not in treat mode, you need to think healthily, ensure that as much of your food as possible is unprocessed (that’s those fruit and veg, and plain nuts and seeds again), and look for as many ‘green traffic lights’ on the labels as possible when you’re doing your supermarket shopping.