Choose the right crust. A whole wheat crust is less processed and packs more fiber, vitamins, and minerals compared to a white crust. And thin crust is a better choice than deep dish or stuffed crust, saving you up to 200 calories per slice!
Ask for half the cheese. While cheese provides calcium for healthy bones, it also can pack on the fat and calories when used in excessive amounts.
Avoid the greasy processed meats, like pepperoni and bacon. These are full of saturated fat, and these highly processed meats also contain components that, when eaten in large amounts, are linked to certain types of cancers.
Pile on the veggies. Peppers, mushrooms, onions, spinach, and chopped tomatoes are great options. They add flavor – as well as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals – without adding additional calories.
Example: At Papa Johns, 2 slices of a large original crust sausage pizza contains 660 calories – but 2 slices of a large Garden Fresh thin crust pizza (with onions & green peppers, baby portabella mushrooms, black olives and sliced Roma tomatoes) has only 440 calories and many more vitamins and minerals.
Spice things up. The seasonings, herbs, and spices used in thai cooking have tons of antioxidants and health benefits. Look for foods made with turmeric, coriander, lemongrass, basil, and chiles.
Look for summer rolls. Their counterparts, spring rolls, are fried and higher in calories – but summer rolls are simply wrapped in a thin sheet of rice paper and are not fried. They are stuffed with lean meat like pork and chicken along with vegetables, making them a great choice.
Make vegetables the star. Many thai dishes are focused on noodles or meat. Choose dishes that have a larger vegetable component - you'll get more vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients for fewer calories.
Examples of healthy go-to options: Tom Yum Goong (soup, typically with shrimp) and Som-Tam (papaya salad)
Skip the bread on the table. It’s typically made from refined grains, which are quickly digested and send blood sugar spiking. Instead, if you want to start your meal with an appetizer, go for a garden salad (dressing on the side) or a broth-based vegetable soup. Both are typically low in calories but rich in nutrition.
Craving pasta? If possible, order whole wheat – it’s got more fiber to fill you up and keep your digestive system in check. Also, restaurant entrée servings of pasta are typically 2-4x larger (or even more!) than a proper portion of pasta. We know that people eat more food when they are served larger portions, so try this instead: see if there is a “side dish” of pasta. This is a more appropriate size serving and won’t leave you tempted to keep indulging after you’re full. For example, the pasta with marinara (no meat) side dish at Carrabba’s only has 233 calories; a full size version has around 700.
Know your menu words. Ravioli and tortellini are typically made from white pasta and filled with cheese or meat; parmigiana means fried and topped with cheese – and these dishes are often a nutrition disaster. Instead, look for words like marsala, arrabiata, and piccata. These dishes are lighter but still pack flavor. However, checking nutrition facts ahead of time is always a good bet. Restaurant cooking methods vary, and some of these may not be as healthy as you would like.
Start your meal with soup – if sodium is not a concern. Options like egg drop soup or wonton soup typically only have about 100 calories in small cup. This can be a great way to start your meal so that you don’t fill up on too many calories from other choices. However, these soups are high in sodium (along with most of the choices at Chinese restaurants) - so if you have high blood pressure you should approach with caution.
Go with a healthy standby. You can find steamed vegetables with chicken or shrimp on many menus, and this is a light, nutrient-rich option. If you can’t find that, look for options that are not fried, and avoid sugary sauces.
Order brown rice. It’s higher in fiber compared to white rice, and contains less added fat and calories than friend rice.
Share with us: What are your favorite healthy choices at these different places?