Nutritional excesses to avoid in takeaways are energy (kilojoules), fat and salt. Too much sugar is generally not a problem with meals of this type, so we don’t include a rating for sugar in either table.
Kilojoules per 100g Nutritionists call this the food’s “energy density”. We tend to eat a fairly consistent amount of food over a period of a few days, and studies have shown people whose diet consists on average of foods of low energy density consume fewer flab-forming kilojoules overall. To keep the weight off, avoid too much energy-dense foods such as cheesy pizzas, fatty meat and creamy pasta sauces, and pick options with plenty of vegetables as these generally have low energy density.
Total fat Fat makes food palatable and is an essential part of the diet, but delivers twice as much energy as the same amount of protein or carbohydrates and most of us eat too much of it.
Saturated fat These fats increase your risk of heart disease and often come from meat, cream or cheese.
Sodium Most of us consume too much salt (sodium chloride). Our bodies need a small amount, but too much sodium increases your risk of high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
When it comes to choosing individual dishes, here are some pointers for picking the healthier options.
Burning off the kilojoules
If you succumb to the temptations of takeaway, how much exercise will it take to burn it off? The figures below are for half a pizza or a standard portion of 300g of other meals. Keep in mind, however, that these times are strictly true only if all the food is surplus to your daily energy needs – even when you’re sitting still you burn about 300kJ per hour.