Eating healthy at a Chinese restaurant can seem like a daunting task, but let me assure you that it can be done! Although a delicious Chinese meal can be made even healthier at home, when enjoyed in a restaurant it doesn't have to leave you feeling like you're in a "food coma." It's all about ordering correctly when it comes to eating healthy at a Chinese restaurant. If not, you could easily end up eating a 1,500 calorie meal without even realizing it. Let me share with you a few ways that you too can get a healthy meal no matter what variety of food you are enjoying!
1. Steamed Rice
Fried rice is one of the easiest swaps to make when it comes to eating healthy at a Chinese restaurant. Although white rice certainly isn't a health food, steamed white rice is better than fried white rice any day. Steamed rice will be void of unhealthy fats when compared to fried rice and it will also fill you up and provide temporary satisfaction. Even better, ask your server if they offer brown rice instead!
2. Double Veggies
What's better than brown rice? Double veggies, please! Vegetables are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants all of which will keep you full for many hours following your meal. Ask for your veggies steamed instead of coated in sauce or oil and you will feel even better at the end of your Chinese experience!
It's no secret that nearly all restaurant meals provide enough food for at least two people and a Chinese restaurant is no exception. One of the best ways to split a meal and still feel satiated is for both of you to order a salad with a vinegar based dressing to start the meal - yet another way to squeeze in some extra veggies! If you don't have anyone there to split a meal with you, simply ask your server to box up half of your meal before it even comes to the table.
4. Drink Tea
Unsweetened teas are not only delicious but they provide many health benefits too! Whether it be green tea, oolong tea or jasmine tea, unsweetened tea is nearly calorie-free when you don't add any sugar. Not only that but a cup of tea is a great replacement for any calorific beverages that you might order instead.
5. Light on the Oil (or Steamed Everything!)
Often, even when you think you're ordering a healthy Chinese meal, it comes so saturated in vegetable oil that it is no longer a healthy option. All you have to do is ask your server to tell the kitchen to go light on the oil, or even better, request that your meal be steamed instead of stir-fried. You will cut calories and unhealthy fat while still enjoying the delicious taste of the ethnic food! This simple request will easily save you 300 or more calories in one serving without losing any flavor!
6. Start with Soup
A warm cup of soup is great for not only filling you up but sneaking in a few extra veggies too! Broth based soups are very low in calories, making them the perfect appetizer to start your meal. While most appetizers are fried or coated in a creamy sauce, soups provide ample nutrition for minimal calories.
7. Sauce on the Side
Sometimes the worst part of a Chinese meal is the sauce that is added to it. High in sodium, monosodium glutamate and added sugar and fat, the sauce is often what leaves you feeling bloated and overly full for hours following your meal. For those with a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, requesting the sauce on the side is a great way to enjoy your favorite meal without the stomach issues that will follow. Request your sauce on the side and you will have the freedom to add as much (or as little!) sauce as you prefer.
By using a few of these tips, a Chinese meal doesn't have to derail your healthy living goals! You might just find that enjoying your favorite Chinese meal doesn't have to leave you feeling tired, sluggish and overly full. Have you ever tried any of these healthy tips? If not, which would you be most likely to try next time you're enjoying a Chinese meal?