Is it ever okay to eat convenience food?

June 05 2015

We all know that it is impossible to stay on the wagon 100% of the time, you’re human after all. So if you do slip from time to time and end up eating a ready meal, a takeaway or a meal out, then it’s not the end of the world.

Is convenience food always bad for you? No, as long as you know what to look out for. While convenience food should never be a substitute for nutritious home cooking, by making a few healthier decisions you can still enjoy a balanced diet and enjoy the food that you are eating without ruining your health and fitness progress.

We have compiled a list of the things you need to pay attention to when buying convenience foods, or going out for dinner.

Check the traffic lights

The government introduced a traffic light colour grading system to make it easier to tell what is in our meals. Usually, the packet will show the calories, fat, sugar, and salt in red, yellow and green colours. Avoid any meals with calories, saturated fat, sugar and salt that are shown in red or yellow as these signify high levels.

Go for simple foods

In order to keep your food as healthy as possible, it needs to be simple. When ordering a takeaway or dining out, opt for simple dishes without sauces, such as steak or chicken and rice. You can always add a sauce of your choice afterwards so at least you know what is going in it.

Can you pronounce the ingredients?

Be wary of meals that have an ingredients list entirely comprising of names that you cannot pronounce, let alone identify. Ready meals contain loads of added extras to make them tastier, including thickening agents, sugar syrups and preservatives. Analyse the ingredients list and avoid anything excessive.

Monitoring sugar content is just as important as calories and fat

Beware of low-fat or low-calorie meals that bulk up on added sugar to make them taste better.

The excess sugars will still increase the levels of insulin in your bloodstream, which can damage your arteries and lead to serious illnesses in the long run. In the short term, the excess sugar will be stored as fat causing you to gain weight.

Choose high-fibre meals

Meals that are high in fibre will keep you feeling fuller for longer, as they take longer for the body to break down and digest. Look for ready meals containing lots of vegetables, beans, lentils or brown rice.

Make small swaps

Opting for rice noodles instead of egg, and boiled rice as opposed to fried can help you to avoid huge levels of fat and calories without sacrificing the quality of the meal that you are enjoying.

Look out for high protein content

Look for food that contains high levels of protein, so that you will feel satisfied for longer. For example, if you are popping out for a sandwich at lunch, choose something high in protein but low in saturated fat such as egg or chicken salad. Most high-protein ready meals will state so on the label, but do be on the lookout.

If all the above goes doesn’t go to plan and you do overindulge, just remember that one meal won’t ruin all of your progress. Exercising regularly will enable you to keep the pounds off and maintain a healthy weight, so join a DW Fitness Club now and get 2 months absolutely free.