Fast food has become a way of life. We expect fast food, fast exercise results, fast job promotions, and fast cars. The idea of patience seems to be losing a fast battle.
But fast food doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy. It can be fast, easy and fun – and when planned correctly – healthy. Many of today’s restaurants are trying to meet the needs of their diners. With the recent educational push for healthy diets to live long healthy lives, restaurants are preparing to meet the needs of their customers.
But customers can also make healthy choices. Healthy eating at Chinese restaurants doesn’t have to be challenging. In fact, it can be quite easy since they are usually quite agreeable to making changes to the dishes to meet your needs. You’ll be looking at the menu with an eye toward choices that are lower in fat and sodium and higher in fiber. Eating healthy meals at a Chinese restaurant therefore will mean requesting that the food is made without MSG and salt. MSG is a derivative of salt but with more side effects.
It’s pretty difficult to find options that include a salad or raw vegetables but you will find options that include cooked vegetables and little meat. You can choose your meat with the same vegetables and sauces – beef, chicken or pork. Your choice should be chicken since the beef and pork are higher in fat.
When you order rice, chose steamed rice and not fried rice. Steamed rice is lower in fat, is a complex carbohydrate and is lower in calories because it isn’t fried. If you can choose a Cantonese dish you’ll be ahead of the game. Cantonese dishes are usually made with fresh ingredients and are lighter with less calories.
If you let your server and restaurant know what you are trying to accomplish they will often try to accommodate your wishes if it is possible. They may also have suggestions you wouldn’t have considered. Many Chinese restaurants have vegetarian options that are steamed – if this isn’t available ask if it can be done.
Many of the dishes at Chinese restaurants are fried or deep fried such as fried rice (with eggs and a high cholesterol count), egg rolls, fried wontons, and most of the chicken, beef or pork dishes are fried on the grill with heavy sauces. Heavy sauces include fat content and oil that increase calories, cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. Avoid these food choices in order to accomplish healthy eating at a Chinese restaurant.
Another tip for healthy choices is to utilize the take out option. Researchers have found that you are apt to eat more when you aren’t eating at your own table. While eating at home you are better able to judge the size of the portions and your fridge is within arms reach for left overs.
Chinese restaurants are famous for their buffets. Unfortunately this makes healthy eating at a Chinese restaurant next to impossible. All you can eat buffets encourage over-eating, over heaping plates and the ‘eyes-are-bigger-than-the-stomach’ syndrome. For some reason people feel that they should eat more at a buffet to get their money’s worth. They would pay the same price for a plated meal at the table for which you didn’t have unlimited refills. Doesn’t make sense but it is human nature.
When you are eating out with friends or family consider sharing an entrée. You can share an appetizer and entrée, which automatically helps to decrease portion sizes and is cost effective too!
Mens Health: 9 Ways to Eat Healthily at the Chinese Restaurant
Shape: 5 Low-Calorie Chinese Dishes and 5 to Skip
MensFitness: Healthy Chinese Food
RealSimple: Healthy Fast Food and Takeout
HealthCentral: Dine out smart