Eating on the Go

Keeping healthy during the holiday rush

By Sean P. Johnson

It’s the gift you don’t have to give yourself.

That five to 10 pounds you gain around the holidays because you are on the go and less watchful of what you eat. The schedule gets hectic, and takeout food becomes a regular part of how we manage.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

“People need to prepare themselves for the rush,” says Regan Kust, personal trainer with Aurora BayCare Sports Medicine. “No one else will put your health first but you.”

Fox Cities restaurant owners agree. There are plenty of options to make your takeout healthier, they say. They are happy to help you avoid those post-holiday pounds.

Chinese & Asian Cuisine

Asian cuisine, in its original form, is generally healthy, Kust says. But restaurant versions of those dishes often involve frying and heavier sauces, which add calories and fat. Still, there are plenty of ways you can make that next order better for you.

Things to consider:

Steamed vegetables and steamed rice are great options when ordering, and you can always ask for sauces on the side. If sushi is your passion, look to the simple rolls – think tuna – instead of the monster or tempora varieties, which are usually higher in fat and calories. Vegetables, rich in fiber and vitamins, make you feel full quicker and are a good option, as are shrimp and chicken instead of beef and pork.

What the restaurants say:

At GingeRootz, each dish is made to order, which makes accommodating healthier requests easier, says Doris Ng, co-owner of GingeRootz. They’re also happy to put things on the side, since with takeout, they already separate many parts of a dish.

“We have a lot of guests who get really creative with their dishes,” Ng says. “We try to help them out as much as possible.”

Ng says they have multiple vegetable options —vegetables fill you up quicker — and are often inspired by some of the healthy combinations customers have requested.


Pizza is a classic takeout dish that can satisfy so many appetites. It’s also a dish that can be easily tweaked to make it a healthier option. It can start by thinking about what you plan to order with it. Hint: lay off the garlic bread and think green.

“Think about a salad as your appetizer, and ask for the dressing on the side,” Kust says. “And remember that vegetables as toppings are more filling than processed meats and better for you.”

Things to consider:

Ask for thin crust and check to see if a whole grain option is available. Going light on the cheese and consider adding lots of veggies or meats such as chicken.

What the restaurants say:

“No matter how you slice it, the cheese will always have fat,” says Frank’s owner Jeannie Pierri Brice. “We do have a traditional pizza margherita that is a good option, and we have created a pizza with a long list of vegetables that is quite popular.”

The pizza is thin crust and Frank’s has different cheese options available, she says. Frank’s also uses meats free of fillers and additives on its pizzas.

Mexican Food

While traditional Mexican dishes can also be quite healthy, the Americanized versions are often covered with sauces adding calories and fat, fried, or both. But there are some Mexican standards that are quite good for you and make for a great option when ordering on the go.

“Salsa is a great option,” Kust says. “It can be quite filling and a great way to keep your portions in check.”

Things to consider:

Beans are good for you as well, but take care to avoid the refried versions that contain lard or pork. Guacamole is a great alternative to sour cream, ask for it on the side. If you really want the stuffed burrito, think about splitting it up into smaller portions and saving some for future meals.

What the restaurants say:

“The calories and fat in many of these dishes is always going to be in the cheese and sauces,” says Kim Finnel, co-owner of Osorio’s Latin Fusion. “Just ask for them on the side.”

Finnel says Osorio’s has many dishes featuring fish, as well as vegetarian options, delivering the great flavor diners are looking for while also providing healthier options.


Just saying deli conjures up thoughts the food is healthier, which is not always the case.

“Just because something says salad on the label doesn’t make it healthy,” Kust says. “If it has mayo in it, that’s fat and calories you need to watch out for.”

That being said, deli takeout does offer some healthier options for you to consider, including leaner meats and whole grain breads.

Things to consider:

In additional to whole grain rolls, add extra vegetables to your sandwiches. Skip the cheese if you can. If not, consider lower fat options. Forgo the butter, consider the soups and choose baked chips.

Burger & Fries

Some might consider this mission impossible, but there are ways to make a tasty burger a bit better for you. It may not be your healthiest option, but there are ways to keep the calories and fat to a minimum.

“This is where moderation is important,” Kust says. “Consider a junior-sized burger and load it up with lots of vegetables.”

Things to consider:

In addition to lots of veggies for toppings, skip the cheese and the butter, either on the bun or the burger. No fries. Ask about a side salad instead.

What the restaurants say:

At first blush, Mihm’s Charcoal Grill owner Janet Haufe jokes and says “No. It’s a burger and there is no way to make it healthy.”

She quickly adds, however, to ask how lean the meat is – Mihm’s uses 85 percent lean beef – and to make sure it’s grilled. They’ll also serve it without the bun, if requested.

“We have a lot of folks substituting coleslaw for fries these days,” Haufe says. “The burger is a guilty pleasure for many, but we do offer a grilled chicken sandwich.”


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