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It’s Thursday evening after work. You’re exhausted. And famished. As you head home, your tired, hungry mind starts conjuring up visions of the delicious (and not-so-good-for-you) takeout food you could easily pick up on the way home.

I’ve been there, and I still struggle with making healthier choices. But your knee-jerk reaction doesn’t have to be your final decision; giving yourself a second to think through your reasoning can make a huge difference. Here are a few worthwhile questions to ask yourself when you have a sudden hankering for takeout (or its convenient cousin, delivery):

1)   What effect will this have on your bank account? Perhaps one stop through a drive-thru isn’t a big deal. But have you reviewed your bank statements lately? How much have you spent on takeout food this month? If money struggles ever rear their head in your life, consider heading straight home and using your favorite online recipe tool (or brainstorming with a friend) to create a meal out of what’s already in your pantry.

2) Do you know where the food comes from? Chances are, it didn’t come straight from the earth; it likely made a serious detour through some pretty gross processing. Documentaries like “Food, Inc.” shed light on this issue – learning more might not turn you into a vegan, but it’ll at least make you curious about the origin of the food you order at takeout restaurants (and buy in your grocery store).

3) Could this food trigger overeating or physical unpleasant symptoms? For many of us who tend to eat more than our bodies require, certain foods and environments can trigger the overeating. Does the food you’re thinking of buying include the soda you gave up months ago, or resuming your age-old pattern of eating in front of the TV?

4) Why are you craving takeout? Hunger is the feeling that you need to eat now, but cravings are the desire to eat something specific. As food guru Michael Pollan points out, “if you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not really hungry.” If it’s not pure hunger, is it because you don’t have time to cook something? Are you just tired or seeking comfort? Exploring the motivation may help you decide if ordering out is the best way to go.  

5) Have you considered new options? Your default option after a long day might be the “Sesame Chicken” (usually more batter than chicken), but maybe it’s time to switch it up and cook at home. Or at least consider options that are less calorie-dense, or try piling on the veggies. Sometimes, you can even whip up a healthier version of what you were craving.

6) Will you really save time? Don’t you love it when you pull up to a drive-thru window and still have to wait ten minutes for your food? In the time it took you to drive to the location, wait on the meal, and drive home, you could have made something yourself.

7) Is your intended food pretty? This is just a rough shortcut for the healthfulness of a meal – do you have some dark, leafy greens, some bright peppers or fruits, or other sources of nutrients? If you look down at your plate and see mostly variants of brown and white, chances are you are piling on the bad stuff and neglecting the good stuff.

8) Is what you are about to eat good for the environment when you think about what it comes in? Often, we have more trash to dispose of when ordering food from fast food restaurants. You have much more control over recycling and trash when you eat at home.

9) Is your food locally grown? From helping to conserve energy, to supporting local farmers, to delivery of fresh ingredients, buying local food is awesome. Chances are, your intended fast food joint has shipped its products in from a faraway place.

10) Have you considered the after-effects? Besides triggering overeating, some takeout foods can leave you feeling bloated and sick. Is the quick hit of fat and sugar worth the tax on your body?



Dr. Lisa Jones is a physician and the Editor-in-Chief at CurvyGirlHealth . At CGH, she discusses her personal battles with self-care and documents her journey to seek insight and make life-long changes. read more about
  • Demetria Jackson | Business Co

    “Will you really save time?” <— this question is genius. It's crazy how we're so programmed to believe that takeout and "fast food" is a time saving measure for all of us busy and on-the-go people..but for the majority of the time, it really doesn't save us anything..not the money..not the time… and definitely not the calories (or points).

    Overall great list. I really appreciate this!

  • Giselle Jones

    Great list. Love number 4.

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