Everyone seems to be in a rush these days. There’s very little downtime for anything, including eating! Although I don’t necessarily advise take-out, there are some days that you just have to. Not everyone has the time or luxury to make their own meal at home every day.

However, let’s face it. Buying take-out food as your fallback option every time can be a disaster from a health perspective. Restaurants often add hidden sugars and fats to anything from sandwiches to salads! Without even noticing you may be consuming double the calories you intended to.

Fortunately, there are ways to be smart when you head out.

Here are 10 tips, suggestions and words of encouragement to make the best choices if you do decide to eat a meal on the go.

1. Plan ahead. Think about the available meal options, and aim for a place offering a wide variety of menu items.

2. Read the menu carefully. Perhaps research the menu beforehand. Take your time when reviewing menu options. Here are a few red flag words to look out for: batter-fried, pan-fried, buttered, creamed, crispy or breaded. Choose these foods only occasionally and in small portions. Smart words to look for include: baked, braised, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted, and steamed. These options will often mean less fat and fewer calories.

3. Don’t hesitate to make special requests. Replacing French fries with a baked potato or side salad, or omitting the bacon or mayonnaise on your sandwich is perfectly okay to ask for. Requesting that sauces be served on the side can help you control the amount incorporated into the food.

4. Top your baked potato with salsa, fresh broccoli or a sprinkling of grated cheese instead of sour cream and butter to decrease calories and fat.

5. Limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol guidelines state, no more than one drink for women and two for men per day. Alcohol tends to increase your appetite and provides extra calories without any nutrients.

6. Increase the nutritional value of your sandwiches by adding tomato, lettuce, peppers or other vegetables as crunchy toppers.

7. Eat your veggies first. Soup or salads are good options. Follow with a light main course.

8. Try to avoid buffets, and all you-can-eat specials. If you do choose to eat at those establishments, fill up on salads and vegetables first. Check in with your hunger and satiety signals before going for seconds.

9. Get informed about your favorite breakfast foods. Protein packed breakfasts are a great way to set the tone for your day and keep you full. Be wary of large-sized portions of muffins, bagels, croissants, and biscuits. A jumbo muffin has more than twice the fat and calories of the regular size.

10. If you find it very difficult to fit a relaxed meal into your busy schedule, tuck portable, nonperishable foods into your purse or briefcase for an on-the-run meal. Suggestions: peanut butter and crackers, granola bars, a piece of fresh fruit, trail mix, and single serve packages of whole grain cereal or crackers.

In general, it is best to limit take-out foods to a just a couple times a week if necessary. Remember, home cooked meals are the best way to guarantee a balanced, well-rounded nutritional intake each day. Planning ahead is key to keeping up with homemade meals.

If you’re always on the move, do your body a favor by taking 15 minutes out of your day to sit down and really enjoy your breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack. You will find a heightened sense of satisfaction and well-being.

Author's Bio: 

Bonnie R. Giller is the Founder of DietFreeRadiantMe.com. She helps chronic dieters and emotional eaters break free from the pain of dieting and get the healthy body they love by giving them the 3 things they really need to succeed – a healthy mindset, caring support and nutrition education. Get a free copy of her e-book 5 Steps to a Body You Love Without Dieting at http://DietFreeRadiantMe.com .