“I think I’m going to order the cheeseburger. But with no bun, mayo on the side, a salad instead of the fries, oh and you know what, have them hold the cheese, too.”
Yes, it’s that time of year, when we start thinking about ways to make our delivery orders healthier, with special requests and substitutions. I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat a cheeseburger for a fraction of the calories?
Eat This, Not That! teamed up with GrubHub, the nation's leading online and mobile food-ordering service, to bring you an exclusive report highlighting the most common healthy special requests for takeout orders in the the last year. Each GrubHub order is sent to restaurants electronically, meaning your special requests and order notes are shared with the chefs via text —eliminating the chance you’ll get “peas and rice” instead of “easy rice”—you know they’ll get your dinner right.
Suddenly, losing weight seems a whole lot more manageable. One of these simple substitutions can even save you as much as 1,000 calories! Let’s take a closer look at the list, ranked from least to most frequently requested:
Fruit Instead of Potatoes
Made with starchy spuds and loads of oil, the fat and calories can add up quickly in an order of breakfast potatoes. Typing in a request for a fruit salad instead will cut 125 calories from your plate and add a host of vital vitamins and nutrients.
Salad Instead of Fries
It may seem obvious, but asking for salad instead of fries is a really smart move. Why? Because if an order of the salty sticks shows up at your doorstep, they will be nearly impossible to resist. One medium order will run you 330 to 430 calories. A side salad with croutons and a reasonable amount of dressing, on the other hand, is a mere 210 calories. That’s an easy 220 calories savings.
Restaurants sometimes add huge mounds of rice to take-out trays to make the meal portions look more generous. But all they are really doing is serving up is empty-calories your body doesn’t need. Asking the kitchen to go easy on the rice is a smart move that will save you 85 to 215 calories, depending on how much they hold back and what type of rice is being served.
Opting for egg whites over whole is a popular breakfast choice among calorie-conscious diners. Though many restaurants are adding egg white omelets to their delivery menus, you can always ask for this calorie-cutting customization if your favorite delivery joint doesn’t explicitly list them on their menu. While the yolk does provide important nutrients like calcium, iron, folate and omega-3 fatty acids, it also delivers three-quarters of the egg’s calories. For every egg in your omelet that comes without the yellow center, you’ll eliminate 55 calories from your plate. In an average three egg omelet that’s 165 calories saved.
We know, we know, the dinner rolls are the best part of the meal. They’re so fluffy. So salty. So warm and delicious. They’re also void of any major nutritional benefits. Plus, they won’t do your waistline any favors. The average take-out order comes with about four rolls, each coming in between 75 and 110 calories. Requesting the bread stay in the kitchen means 440 fewer calories could be delivered to your front door.
Easy or No Oil
The average restaurant dish that’s been cooked in oil is soaked in two to four tablespoons of the stuff plus whatever soggy residue has been left in the pan. That means a whopping 500 calories of oil could be lurking in your take-out order. If you request the chef cut back on the fat, it could slash 250 calories or more from your order without dramatically altering the taste of the dish.
Steaming is one of the healthiest forms of cooking out there. Since it relies solely on water to get the job done, there are no extra calories or fat that wind up on your plate. Tempura vegetables are a popular appetizer order from Japanese restaurants, but just one piece of the crispy eggplant variety (many people’s all time favorite) has 40 calories and 3.1 grams of fat! An order of steamed eggplant, however, has a mere 30 calories per half cup and not a stitch of fat. By going this route, you could easily slash 110 calories for each half-cup of veggies on your plate.
Brown Rice Not White
Not only does brown rice have a great nutty taste, it’s also packed with belly-filling fiber and cholesterol-lowering vitamin B3. All wonderful nutrients that its white, fluffy counterpart doesn’t boast as much of. Plus, opting for the whole grains over white saves 26 calories and 8.5 grams of carbohydrates per cup. It’s a win-win.
Easy or No Mayo
Mayonnaise seems to sneak its way into everything from sandwiches and burgers to calamari and sushi sauces. A mere two tablespoons of the stuff (what you’d typically find on a small burger) is 188 calories, all of which come from fat. Just think about that for a second. It’s 100 percent fat— and not the heart-healthy kind. Larger sandwiches and dishes can have up to four tablespoons of the artery-clogging spread. Putting in a request for the kitchen to go easy on the mayo is a no-sacrifice request will help you dodge just under 200 calories. While axing the spread altogether could nix 375 calories from your plate in as little effort as it takes to send a text message.
Easy or No Cheese
Nixing the slice of cheese from your sandwich or burger saves up to 115 calories. Often times though, sandwich shops will throw two or three pieces between the bread so, in reality, the calorie savings is even greater. But what about pastas, salads and Mexican dishes that are often smothered in cheese? The average recipe contains about 3 or 4 ounces of the gooey stuff, so asking for easy or no cheese means that 280 to 560 calories could be eliminate from your plate. If you typically order a cheese-laden dish once a week that translates to two pounds lost off your frame in a mere three and a half months, even if you have your order delivered instead of picking it up.
Dressing on the Side
When a chef dresses your take-out salad for you, you’re apt to get four to five fat and calorie-laden tablespoons of the stuff suffocating your once-nutritious vegetables. If you order a creamy dressing like Caesar, that would run you about 400 calories. Those who ask for their dressing on the side, however, could slash their calorie intake in half. For that Caesar salad, that translates to 200 fewer calories on your plate that would eventually end up on your belly and thighs. Bonus: your salad won’t get soggy during delivery.
Sauce on the Side
Topping the list of the most common special requests is sauce on the side. Restaurants tend to drown their dishes in deep, treacherous pools of oil, cream, butter and sugar— all of which are calorically dense and offer little to no nutritional benefits. Special ordering it on side can save you up to 1,000 calories per dish. Yes, you read that correctly, 1,000 calories! Over a course of a year, that could equal major weight loss delivered right to your door.
Apply these tricks and start losing weight now at GrubHub.