You asked, we listened. Follower question of the week.
Q: I’m not so into cooking, any tips on ordering in takeout/ delivery while following Step 1?
A. One of the best features of F-Factor is that you can enjoy restaurant fare from Day 1 of following the program. Yes, this means you can dine out at your favorite restaurants and that you never have to miss a social outing just because it involves dining out. But that’s not all; it also means take-out and delivery are completely viable options available to you. So, if you’re not an all-star chef, or even mildly interested in cooking, this is the program for you. You may need to lift a finger to place an order, but in theory, you can follow the plan perfectly and remain completely satiated without ever moving further than the door from your couch! (Disclaimer, we don’t recommend doing such, but theoretically speaking, if you wanted to, you absolutely could.) The point is, on F-Factor, if you don’t want to cook, you don’t have to—ever.
With many restaurants currently closed for dine-in service, here’s your guide to ordering delivery/ pick-up the F-Factor Way.
BEFORE WE BEGIN…
Please note, Step 1 of F-Factor allows three servings of carbohydrates per day. With Step 2, you can include an additional three servings of carbs each day. And on Step 3 (maintenance), you can incorporate three more servings of carbohydrates per day, allowing you to eat virtually any food in moderation. The tips below are geared towards Step 1, the most restrictive phase of the diet. Using the intel above, you can appropriate the tips below for Step 2 and the Maintenance phase of F-Factor.
Every meal on F-Factor is a combination of fiber and protein—and that is true whether you are on Step 1, Step 2, or the Maintenance phase of F-Factor. So, when deciding what to order (or make), that is the framework to keep in mind: fiber + protein. When perusing menus online, look for appetizers and entrées that include one or both of these nutrients.
In practice, the easiest way to go about this is to think vegetables and lean proteins. You could go about this by choosing a salad, broth-based vegetable soup, or vegetable appetizer for fiber and pairing it with a simple lean protein (ex. grilled chicken or fish), and a side order of vegetables, for additional fiber. Remember, non-starchy vegetables are a free food on F-Factor and are packed with antioxidants, so they’re great to fill up on.
On the topic of vegetables, as great as they are, you should consider how they are prepared. While veggies are low-calorie, high fiber, and packed with vitamins and minerals, restaurants want them to taste good, and the by-product of boosting flavor often is boosted fat content. A cup of vegetables is only 25 calories, but if they’re sautéed even in 2 Tbsp oil, they become 270 calories and 30g fat. Look for words like “grilled” or “roasted,” which typically indicate a vegetable side dish is a solid choice. Or use this as a general rule of thumb: if vegetable sides are sautéed or in sauce, eat half, if plain and steamed, have as much as you’d like.
The lean protein part of the equation is where your poultry, fish, shellfish, and lean red meats come in—but also your non-animal proteins, like tofu and seitan. As far as preparation, raw (sashimi, tartars) or simply grilled is usually best for following Step 1. The big thing with the lean protein component of your meal is the portion side. Restaurants are notorious for having oversized portions. The proper portion of protein is 3-4 oz (half of a typical restaurant entree) for women and 6-8 oz (about 2/3 of a typical restaurant entree) for men. For a visual cue, three ounces is about the size and thickness of your palm. If you’re dining with someone, consider splitting an entrée, or save half for another meal. One of the benefits of dining at home is that leftovers are easy to save for another meal, after all!
Before we move on to more specific tips, let’s address starches. Starches (breads and grains, starchy vegetables, beans, and legumes) are not allowed on Step 1. If a dish contains starches, ask if they can be removed or substituted, or eat around them.
PRO TIPS: DECODING MENUS, CHOOSING WHAT TO ORDER, AND PLACING YOUR ORDER
Semantics – When choosing dishes, look for words like, “broiled,” “baked,” “steamed,” “poached,” “grilled,” and “papillote”, which typically indicate healthier options. On the flip side, avoid items described with words like “fried,” “battered,” “buttered,” “creamed,” or “creamy,” which often indicates a dish is loaded with excess fat and calories.
Do your research – Not sure what an item is, look it up! This is especially helpful when ordering more ethnic cuisines that you may not be so familiar with, but even dishes that you recognize the name of can have a word or two in the description that you may not know. By taking a moment to copy and paste a word like “colcannon” into google, you can find out that the chicken dish you were planning on ordering comes with a traditional Irish dish made of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage. Because potatoes are a starch, this wouldn’t be suitable for Step 1, but the appetizer “oshitashi” that you might find on a Japanese menu would absolutely be, as Google will tell you, it’s steamed spinach.
Take a visual cue – Another useful way to do your menu due diligence is to look at pictures. Many restaurants upload photos of their offerings to yelp and Instagram… and fellow diners do too. By taking a look at the pictures tagged to a restaurant’s Instagram account or left with their yelp review, you can gain insight into what a dish contains.
Piecemeal your meal(s) – Take a look at all different sections of a menu when thinking about what to order. That includes the side dishes and the appetizers. Even if you’re dining at home, alone, that doesn’t mean appetizers or shareables sections of a menu are off limits! In fact, sometimes appetizers can have more appropriate portion sizes, especially for proteins. Remember, the proper portion for protein should be 3-4 ounces for women and 6-8 ounces for men. So, ordering appetizers like tuna tartare, shrimp cocktail, or grilled octopus can help you avoid a situation where you have too much protein in a meal. Often, two or three appetizers together make a properly portioned meal (checking pictures from the restaurant here can help you judge). Additionally, appetizers, side dishes, and extras sections of menus can have some viable snack options. You can get an order of hummus from Mediterranean restaurants, or guacamole from Mexican restaurants, and pair those with crudité.
Make “on the side, please” your mantra – This applies to salad dressings, sauces, condiments, etc. First, food with sauces and salad dressings don’t travel well. So, this mantra helps you avoid a mess or soggy food. From a nutrition perspective, most dressings and sauces are oil-based and usually have upwards of 100 calories and 10 grams of fat per tablespoon—and as you can imagine, these can add up fast.
Speak up – Remember, it’s okay to ask for what you want. If a main dish comes with starchy sides like potatoes or rice and veggies, ask if they can swap the starch for a double portion of vegetables. Sometimes, you can even order off the menu. Most restaurants can grill a chicken breast and serve it over a chopped green salad. Of course, this is something done more easily and more effectively if asked for over the phone or in a restaurant, rather than placing online or with an app, but either way, you won’t know unless you ask!
Be smart – Keep in mind, descriptions of items on menus don’t always include everything in a dish. When your food arrives, keep in mind which ingredients are allowed on your respective step of F-Factor.
- Make vegetables and lean proteins the foundation of the meal.
- Ask for salad dressing and sauces on the side.
- Consider a salad, broth-based soup, or vegetable appetizer for fiber in your meal. Also, take advantage of side dishes.
- Words like crispy, creamy, and fried often indicate a dish is higher in calories. Look for dishes prepared broiled, baked, seasoned, salt-crusted, steamed, roasted.
- If vegetables are sautéed, eat half, if they’re steamed, enjoy as much as you like.
Just because you’re not doing the heavy lifting in preparing a meal doesn’t mean you can’t do anything at all! Maybe you have a sauce you want to use at home. Ask for the dish without the sauce and add yours when the food comes. Bulk up a dish you ordered in with vegetables you have on hand. Swap the white rice that comes with your Chinese food order out for cauliflower rice you have in the freezer. Want to bump up the nutritional content of a dish? Feel free to mix 20/20 Fiber/Protein powder right into it! Unflavored 20/20 FIBER/PROTEIN Powder can be mixed directly into soups, stews, sauces, dressings, and more.
On F-Factor, no cuisine is off limits—Greek, French, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, the diner (continental), Indian foods—any open place, you can find healthy options on the menu. Here, find suggestions by common cuisines. Please note, dishes with an asterisk are for Step 2.
- Tandoori proteins (cooked in clay oven – flavor comes from marinade not from oils, so fat is limited)
- *Chana masala (chickpeas in a tomato and onion sauce with garlic, chilies and spices)
- *Alu Gobhi (potatoes and cauliflower mixed with ginger, turmeric)
- Chicken cacciatore
- Zuppa di Pesce (seafood stew in tomato broth)
- Grilled calamari
- Miso soup
- House salad with ginger dressing
- Seaweed salad
- *edamame (steamed soybeans)
- Sashimi, Naruto rolls
- Greek salad with tomatoes, cucumber, onion, feta
- Grilled octopus, grilled calamari
- Kabobs: chicken, beef, or lamb
- Horta (boiled leafy greens)
- *Gigante beans in tomato sauce
- *Black bean soup
- Tortilla soup
- Grilled chicken, shrimp, beef fajitas with peppers, onions with *whole wheat tortillas
- Tom Yom soup (spicy, broth-based soup)
- Green papaya salad
- *Summer rolls
- Basil chicken