A meal in a restaurant can be a real treat.
With so much food on offer that you perhaps wouldn’t have at home, it is easy to be tempted by the less healthy option.
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How easy is it to eat well when you’re out?
We found out exactly what we should be ordering at some high street favourites:
1. Pret A Manger
A sandwich or wrap is always quick and easy, but isn’t necessarily as good for you as you may think.
“Sandwiches, wraps, soups and granolas can still be jam packed with hidden salt, sugar and saturated fat,” explains Lily Soutter, nutritionist and weight loss expert at Lily Soutter Nutrition.
“Whilst Pret may provide some food that veers on the unhealthy side… they are completely up to date with food trends and cater for those who are dairy, gluten or wheat intolerant or searching for carb-free options.
“They have also made healthy snacking a whole lot easier.
One of their best products so far must be their 'Pret Pots'. These are little snack pots, all under 200 calories, which are full of fresh and healthy whole foods.”
Pan Asian food is often thought of as being particularly healthy, but, like anything, it’s a bit hit and miss.
“Many of [Wasabi’s] sushi meals are overloaded with white refined rice, which can lead to blood sugar imbalances, fatigue, afternoon energy slumps and weight gain.
“Wasabi does offer a range of brown rice sushi, and salad pots, which can be a healthy alternative.
I'd recommend choosing the likes of the Wakame seaweed salad, miso soup, salad pots or brown rice sushi,” explains Lily.
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2. Burger King French Toast Sticks
“EAT caters for all,” Lily says, “It has the super food salads for health-conscious customers, as well as 800-calorie beef and ale pies!
It's a real mix of unhealthy vs healthy foods, so researching the menu is key to making the right choices.
“The safest option at EAT would be to choose their salads and to dress them with olive oil and lemon juice.
“They also serve tasty porridge for breakfast and are on par with healthy food trends by serving a high protein quinoa and buckwheat porridge. The avocado on sourdough toast and their chia pots are also some of the best choices!”
For French dining this side of the channel, Café Rouge has long been a firm favourite.
Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at SuperfoodUK.com, tells us the healthiest dish on offer.
“It contains hot smoked salmon and olives.
These are both great sources of the health-promoting nutrient Omega-3.
It also contains egg, which is free range. This will add some more protein to the dish to help keep you fuller for longer.
“You also have the benefit of having additional French beans which add to the nutrient content.
There are plenty of healthy choices at Café Rouge and nothing too bad that you should avoid.
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However, I would probably not go for the burger and chips option.”
[Read more: 9 foods you thought were definitely vegetarian – but aren’t]
5. Pizza Express
Pizza may have a reputation for being a ‘fast food’, but fear not, there are options available.
“Pizza Express offers a gluten free menu as well as a ‘lighter’ menu which is lower in calories.
I love their pizza called Leggera Pollo ad Astra. It is less than 500 calories. It has a thinner base and is piled with salad in the middle,” Shona explains.
“This pizza contains chicken for protein, some light mozzarella, peppers, tomatoes and red onion.
It also contains garlic oil. Garlic contains a sulphur compound, which is thought to be protective to the cardiovascular system.”
6. Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Prime beef burgers are what Gourmet Burger Kitchen is known for, but what is the best healthy option?
“GBK also provides a separate gluten free menu, which is great.
If you want a burger, I would probably go for the avocado and bacon burger and ask for the mayo to be served on the side - by doing this you are ensuring that you get enough protein without the calories,” says Shona
“Add their simple green salad as a side dish for a tasty yet healthy meal. If you must go for fries, opt for the sweet potato fries, which don't affect your blood sugar levels as much.
“This will help avoid that energy slump some people feel after a meal.”
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Italian food is known for being carb heavy but just like Pizza Express, there is food available to help you stay on the healthier path.
Shona says: “Fish is nearly always a good option to go for due to its Omega-3 health benefits. Prezzo’s seabass is exceptionally good as it is served with basil pesto, edamame, mung beans, mange tout and spinach.
“The mange tout and spinach are incredibly nutrient dense, with great amounts of B vitamins to help with energy.
It also has the added benefit of being gluten free.”
8. Five Guys
“The best thing you can do at Five Guys is eat small portions,” says Shona.
“Go for the little burger or you can opt for the veggie sandwich.
“You could try ordering the burger without the roll and asking them to serve it with veggies from the veggie sandwich they serve.”
Shona adds: “Be aware that the chips are cooked in peanut oil which could be a problem for anyone who has an allergy to peanuts.”
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British Fast Food Tier List
Nando’s reputation is built on good food for a good price so you’ll be pleased to know that Shona says the chicken restaurant’s menu is full of healthy choices.
“There are many delicious and healthy items to go for. Try opting for chicken on the bone with a side of corn on the cob or chargrilled veg.
What about McDonald’s and Burger King?
This is a great meal for getting your protein and veg intake.
“Try the extra-hot chicken if you can tolerate it. Chillies contain an ingredient called capsaicin, which is thought to help with weight loss.
“I would avoid the chips or the garlic bread, but the majority of the menu you can eat guilt free.
Just remember portion sizes,” Shona says.
Photo credits: PA Images/REX/Shutterstock
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