Usually when people begin a diet, they restrict or cut out restaurant food. This happens because whenever you eat out, you allow someone else to cook and control the contents of your food - which can make it more difficult to control your calorie count for the day. However, if you want to keep the weight you lose off for a lifetime, and/or maintain your commitment to a healthier lifestyle, it can be beneficial to learn how to make healthier choices (that you actually enjoy) in all possible circumstances.
So, if you enjoy eating out at restaurants and don't want to deviate from your healthy eating because of an invitation to a birthday dinner, happy hour etc., then I have some wonderful tips for you to use the next time you are allowing someone else to do the cooking.
Below are some creative ways to find fit and tasty meals at a Chinese restaurant:
Request all sauce to be served on the side
The easiest and most simple way take control of your meal and calories is to request all of your sauces served on the side. Most sauces are varying combinations of fat, sugar and/or salt. This may create a truly tasty meal, but may also come with a cost to your caloric budget, waistline and possibly health. Plus, if you hate to eat the healthiest thing on the menu, this is the easiest way to make a meal healthier. For example, if you order fried General Tao's chicken, you'll get to keep the fried chicken, and you'll even enjoy the sauce. But, simply requesting the sauce on the side allows you to enjoy all of the flavor without soaking your meat and vegetables in extra fat, salt and sugar.
Request extra vegetables instead of rice
White rice turns into sugar in your body and has very little nutritional value. If you are fortunate enough to find a Chinese restaurant that offers a brown rice option, then you may request that instead. This simple act will increase fiber and the overall nutritional value of your meal. Another better option is to substitute extra vegetables for white rice. Extra vegetables increases the fiber content (making you feel full), drastically decreases the calorie count (1 cup of rice has 170 calories; 1 cup vegetables has 20-50 calories) and increases the overall nutritional value of the meal. Plus, you may dip the vegetables into the sauce you have on the side!
Request steamed chicken and vegetables (Cooked with no oil, sugar or salt with sauce on the side)
This is the healthiest way to enjoy your favorite Chinese meals. When the sauce is truly great, this meal modification doesn't have to taste like a sacrifice. Some Chinese restaurants offer this option on the menu, and most will be happy to fulfill this request. Try it the next time you are ordering Chinese and I promise it will open your eyes to a new world of nutritious and delicious restaurant food!
Request half of the entree served and half packaged to go immediately
The typical restaurant meal is 2 or more servings, but even if you only intend to eat half of the food on your plate, allowing it to linger in front of you can lead to additional bites and possibility of a clean plate. Plus, there is the tendency to feel compelled to finish the plate after you have eaten more than half of the meal. If you are at home, immediately place 1 serving onto your plate and put the rest into the refrigerator. Then you will have to re-heat the dish to eat it!
It works for me, and it can work for YOU!