Eat Out, Eat Smart
From deli to Tex-Mex, here are dining-out choices that won't do in your diet
The key is to choose foods that are more like those actually eaten in China
-- with less meat and less sauce.
"Go for the non-fried chicken at a Chinese restaurant," says Hall.
"Look for options that are heavy on the veggies, and light on the sauce,
like brown rice with vegetables."
Susan Moores, RD, of St. Paul, Minn., suggests these dishes as
not-so-unhealthy options: "moo goo gai pan, moo shi (with vegetables, pork,
chicken or shrimp, also called moo shu), shrimp, pork, or chicken with Chinese
vegetables, Szechwan green beans, or lo mein (with vegetables, pork, chicken,
And, she says, "boiled, steamed, or lightly stir-fried seafood, chicken,
vegetable or bean curd dishes are generally low in fat."
In fact, many Chinese restaurants offer low-cal specials: dishes that are
steamed without oil, sugar, or salt. In this category, you can usually find
chicken with vegetables, shrimp with vegetables, or an all-veggie platter.
Even those who don't list low-cal dishes on the menu are often willing to
steam a dish instead of frying and make other modifications.
Italian restaurants offer up some tasty options for people watching their
"Order pasta with marinara sauce instead of creamy white or butter
sauces such as Alfredo," says Moores, who is a spokeswoman for the American
Not on the mood for marinara? Opt for "chicken cacciatore or piccata,
grilled meat or fish, grilled eggplant pomodoro, or polenta and mushrooms,"
Moores tells WebMD.
As for Italian items to stay away from, "avoid pastas stuffed with
cheese or meat, as well as topped with cheese," says Moores. And keep in
mind that "parmigiana-style usually translates into higher fat," she
But what about that cheesy favorite, pizza?
Portion control is key for this easy-to-eat food, so have one or two slices
and round out your meal with a salad, suggests the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic
"Recipe Doctor" Elaine Magee, MS, RD. Choose thin-crust pizza, and top
it with vegetables instead of meats. Ask for extra sauce -- and half the
There are lots of options on a Tex-Mex menu that are muy delicioso,
but which ones won't weigh you down?
"Gazpacho, black bean soup, or jicama with salsa," suggests Moores.
"Chile verde, or pork simmered in vegetables and green chiles, and ...
dishes cooked in herbed tomato sauces are lower in fat, as is arroz con pollo,
or boneless chicken with rice."
In general, when dining south of the border, Moores recommends: "Use
salsa instead of sour cream or cheese dips. Choose dishes made with plain, soft
tortillas that aren't fried, like burritos or enchiladas. Pick baked entrees;
and corn tortillas and Mexican rice are good."
Pub fare is usually all-American food: hamburgers, nachos, onion rings ...
none of which bode well for your diet.