How to Make Healthy Choices at Ethnic Restaurants

Eating a variety of cuisine doesn't mean you have to leave your health behind.

from Stealth Health

Healthy Indian Dining

Skip the appetizers (most are fried).

Avoid the chapati, naan, kulcha, or roti breads. They’ve all been fried or soaked in fat. A better bet: pappadam, made from lentils. It’s usually baked, but check first.

Order side dishes with vegetables, beans, or peas, such as dal or chutney.

Look for the healthy dishes: chicken masala, shrimp bhuna, fish vindaloo, and tandoori (baked). Avoid dishes made with ghee (clarified butter) or malai (a thick cream).

Ask what kind of oil is used in cooking. Most often, it’s coconut — nearly all saturated fat. If that’s what they use, ask if they can switch to canola oil for you.

Avoid dishes made with coconut, which is another hidden source of fat and calories.

Choose a vegetable dish for your main course.

Healthy Chinese Dining

Avoid the fried noodles. If the waiter plops them down on the table, ask him to take them away. If you get a packet with your soup, hand them back. Each half-cup serving adds about 150 calories.

Order fewer dishes than there are people at the table. Chinese entrées are designed for sharing, not for one person.

Start with soup to fill you up.

Avoid fried appetizers. This means no egg rolls or pupu platters. Get your dumplings steamed, not fried.

Opt for steamed rice, not fried. If the restaurant serves brown rice, ask for it.

Use the 2:1 ratio. Two times as much rice as main dish.

Avoid menu items described as crispy, golden brown, or sweet-and-sour. They’re all deep-fried.

Choose dishes rich in vegetables and order at least one vegetarian entrée.

Ask for the sauce on the side. Chinese restaurant chefs often stir-fry the main ingredients, then mix them together and ladle on the sauce. Get the sauce on the side and you’ll use less.

Eat with chopsticks. You’ll get less of the high-calorie, high-sodium sauce that way.

Healthy Diner Dining

Choose Canadian bacon instead of regular bacon.

Skip the fries. Ask for a side salad or order of vegetables instead.

Forgo tuna and chicken salads; they’re likely loaded with mayo. Instead, order a turkey, roast beef, or even ham sandwich — plain or with mustard or horseradish — and remove some of the meat if it’s piled too high.

If you order a salad, ask for no croutons and get the dressing on the side.

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

Sending Message
how we use your e-mail