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Welcome to the Health Defence Blog - a blog about health, wellness and a healthier you. Brought to you by the Health Defence team at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, you'll find up-to-date information on a range of topics from what's in your food to the latest advice on e-cigarettes!


Megan - Health Promotion Specialist

October 22, 2017

If you work in the city, chances are that at least a couple of meals per week are from the local takeaway shops around you. Working late and eating healthily don’t always go hand-in-hand, so in this week’s blog you’ll find our top tips for choosing healthier options if takeaways are your only option*.

10 healthier takeaway options:

  1. Salad bar
    • Say yes to: a variety of vegetables (pick a rainbow of colours), protein to keep you full for longer (lean meats, fish, lentils, pulses, tofu), wholegrain carbohydrates for added fibre (brown rice, couscous, brown roll), some good fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil, oily fish), lemon juice or balsamic vinegar dressings.
    • Say no to: salads drowning in high calorie sauces (like mayonnaise, caesar or ranch dressing), added extras such as fatty croutons or bacon bits, not enough protein or healthy carbohydrates – ensure your meal is balanced to avoid the 3pm slump.
  1. Soup
    • Say yes to: tomato or vegetable based soups, lots of added vegetables, lentils and lean meats, Scotch broths, low-sodium soups (if available), a wholegrain roll on the side.
    • Say no to: cheesy or creamy style soups, chowders, extra salt or cream, bacon bits. 
  1. Sushi
    • Say yes to: fresh veg, omega-3 rich fish (such as salmon and tuna), avocado, tofu, seaweed (good source of fibre and iodine), grilled meats, udon noodle soups, edamame beans (pop the beans out of their salted shells).
    • Say no to: fried meats, tempura, high sodium sauces or soups (such as soy sauce, teriyaki (also high in sugar) and miso soup), preserved condiments such as pickled ginger. 
  1. Jacket potato
    • Say yes to: plenty of salad and veg filling, low-fat, high fibre fillings such as beans (kidney beans, chickpeas, baked beans), grilled meat or plain tinned fish, no added butter, low-fat cheese (cottage cheese), reduced-fat toppings (yoghurt or sour cream) small to medium sized potatoes.
    • Say no to: high-fat fillings such as salads covered in mayonnaise (e.g. coleslaw) or tuna and mayonnaise, large helpings of cheese.
  1. Sandwich, wrap or roll
    • Say yes to: extra salad, wholegrain bread, hard boiled eggs, roasted or grilled meats/fish, reduced-fat hummus or avocado instead of butter/margarine.
    • Say no to: creamy dressings, processed meats (ham, bacon, salami), extra cheese, refined white breads, high-fat/salty breads such as ciabatta, bread topped with cheese or bacon. 
  1. Turkish kebab or rice dish
    • Say yes to: low-fat protein (falafel, grilled meats), shish kebabs (whole cuts of meat, usually grilled), lots of salad, tabbouleh, yoghurt-sauces, wholegrain pitta breads.
    • Say no to: hot chips, doner kebab (higher in fat), high-fat sauces (mayonnaise), large portions, lots of cheese.
  1. Quiche
    • Say yes to: vegetable fillings (think broccoli, leek, mushroom, spinach or corn), a big side of salad, quiche alternatives with little or no high-fat pastry (opt for a frittata, Spanish omelette or crustless quiche).
    • Say no to: high-calorie pastry crusts, cheesy quiches, processed meats (bacon, ham) high sugar or high-fat toppings such as sweet chilli sauce or mayonnaise. 
  1. Thai/Chinese/Vietnamese
    • Say yes to: salads, fresh rice paper rolls, clear soups (Thai Tom Yum or Vietnamese Pho), steamed and plain rice dishes, lots of colourful veg (pak choi, cabbage, bamboo, baby corn, mushrooms), steamed fish or seafood, stir-fried or steamed vegetables, sharing a takeaway container (one container doesn’t mean it serves one).
    • Say no to: fried rice or noodles (Pad Thai or chicken chow mein), battered, ‘crispy’ or deep fried foods (wontons, sweet and sour pork, spring rolls, hot chips), creamy curries, high-sodium sauces (use soy, oyster and fish sauce sparingly). 
  1. European – Italian/Greek
    • Say yes to: tomato or vegetable based pasta sauces, entrée-sized pasta, a side salad or mixed vegetables, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), souvlaki, hummus, tzatziki, roasted Mediterranean vegetables, minestrone soup or cioppino stew, sprinkling of parmesan cheese, takeout boxes (take half home to eat for your next meal).
    • Say no to: processed meats (salami, sausage, prosciutto, smoked ham), salty olives and creamy or cheesy pasta sauces, hot chips, garlic bread, lots of high-salt feta cheese, deep crust pizzas. 
  1. On the run or in-between meetings?

*Note some of these are not good everyday choices, but are generally lower in fat, sugar or salt than regular takeaways.

***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.

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