How to eat takeaways

An unusual title for an Integrative (Nutritional and Environmental) GP but an experience on a recent road trip inspired me to write about this topic.  It’s also hopefully a little bit of light relief from some of my previous, more heavy topics.

The reality of life is such that takeaways are a, sometimes, necessary evil.  The road trip in question was a late at night trip back home through rural New Zealand South Island.  As we were held up at our previous destination, we found our grumbly tummies guiding us towards the only beacon of light in the nearest rural town.  Having already given up hope of finding anything like an abundance bowl or hearty vegetable soup, we followed our noses into the local fish and chip shop.  After my tentative request for grilled fish was rejected with a blank face, I pondered the unfortunate situation. Whilst sitting there in disguise (I have a reputation to uphold after all!) I admit that I battled to turn off my ‘guilt gene’ over succumbing to fish and chips.

Pondering the steaming pile of fish and chips (with an increasingly frustrated hubby next me chomping at the bit to delve in) a proverbial lightbulb came on.  The usual ratio of around 2:1 batter to fish does not mean we have to eat that ratio.  So after carefully avoiding burns from the hot batter I created dish of around 10:1 fish to batter.  This is following my unofficial rule that “every step we take towards a healthy lifestyle helps”.  I could have taken all the batter off but after the initial trauma of the situation I felt the reward was well justified!

The chips were the obvious next step in the equation.  Dissecting the fatty outer coating was going to burn up as much energy as eating them would have created so I opted to allow myself 10 chips.  Your personal allocation will depend on a number of factors, particularly your current health status.  For example, I would suggest no chips for a person with ischaemic heart disease.

After boring my husband with a lecture on how we could negate some of the damage of the oxidised seed oils and gluten in the batter, we added an antioxidant rich bag of organic sprouts we had just purchased to the picnic.  Sprouts are particularly good as they are packed full of nutrients, but any vegetable will do.  If you don’t’ happen to have a handy bag of sprouts (my kiddies have mocked me for finding even more random things like kale chips in our car) then a vegetable feast at home will do the trick.

Yes, I’ve learned my lesson to be prepared and pack a thermos of something like hot soup but as a recovering perfectionist I’m not going to beat myself up for sometimes screwing up. Instead I’m going to revel in the challenge and opportunity of eating a takeaway strategically and loving every minute of it!  I’m a strong believer in both the 80:20 rule and that a little of what you fancy does you good (with a caveat that these rules only apply once my patients are back to optimal health).  The damage caused by stressing over eating an occasional takeaway has more negative health implications than eating the takeaway, so enjoy it mindfully.

In my next opinion piece, I’ll discuss healthier takeaway options and also look at how to ‘Uphealth’ (as opposed to ‘Upsize’) these other takeaways.

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