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4 Ways to Choose Wisely When Dining Out

4 Ways to Choose Wisely When Dining Out

We’re eating out more than ever today. But if we choose wisely and eat small portions, we needn’t worry about unhealthy cholesterol and unsightly bulges. Sharing some tips that I find useful:

At a Mexican restaurant: Choose bean burritos instead of cheese/beef ones. Ask for soft tacos—the crispy ones are deep fried. Black beans are very nutritious, but refried beans are often cooked with fat. Enjoy salsa—it’s mineral-rich and good for you, without the calories. Sour cream, cheese topping and large helpings of guacamole are all high in calories. Buffets work well, allowing you to fill up on greens, corn, beans and salsa; all of which are low-fat, high-benefit choices.

At a Chinese eatery: Learn to eat with chopsticks—they help you eat less, savor your food and cut back on your oil intake. Ditch the deep-fried spring rolls, go with steamed dim sum. Enjoy clear soup—it’s lower in calories than the gloppy ‘cream of’ options. Avoid crispy noodles and deep-fried tofu. Also steer clear of veggies/meat floating in thick sauce made from cornstarch. While fried rice is tempting, I find that steamed rice works as a perfect foil to those flavorful Chinese dishes.

In an Indian restaurant: a tricky one! I’ve been to very few Indian restaurants that are confident enough to serve authentic and delicious dishes without smothering them in oil, cream, and cashew nut paste. Having said that, I recommend choosing yellow dal over black dal, which is simmered in bucketloads of butter, ghee, and cream. Ask for ‘kachumber’ salad, which is basically finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and onion, tossed up with lemon juice and cilantro leaves. Tandoori bread and kababs are way healthier than butter chicken. Seasonal vegetables, lightly spiced, are delicious as well as nourishing. Stay away from anything that is named ‘makhni,’ which translates to ‘buttery.’

At the Trattoria: Try a broth-based soup such as minestrone, pasta in marinara, primavera or pesto sauce, and sauteed spinach. Bruschetta, lightly brushed with olive oil, is also a must-have, because it takes the edge off your appetite. White, creamy sauces are a no-no. Pasta tossed up with lots of veggies, garlic and olive oil are yummy, and a healthy choice—better still if the pasta is whole wheat.

Bon appétit!



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Shubhra Krishan

Writer, editor and journalist Shubhra Krishan is the author of Essential Ayurveda: What it is and what it can do for you (New World Library, 2003), Radiant Body, Restful Mind: A Woman's book of comfort (New World Library, 2004), and The 9 to 5 Yogi: How to feel like a sage while working like a dog (Hay House India, 2011).


+ add your own
12:14PM PDT on Aug 17, 2015

Thank you Shubhra.

3:53PM PDT on Jun 19, 2015

Thank you Shubhra

7:45PM PST on Jan 27, 2013

our local Indian restaurant is sooooooooooooooo goooooooooooooooooooood its the one place I forget about eating healthy, but not about eating good for the earth........

thanks very much, enjoyed the quick read!

2:54AM PST on Dec 13, 2012

Thanks for the tips. Reading about so many dishes has brought me an appetite. I think I'll stick to your advice but spoil myself with one or two goodies when I visit Chinese or Indian restaurants (my favourites).

1:12AM PDT on Oct 28, 2012

It's always good to be reminded of some simple nutrition basics when eating out. Thanks for the suggestions.

12:59AM PDT on Oct 28, 2012


5:01PM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

Some of these ideas are really great. I love eating foods from a diverse range of countries and cultures. Why on a page like this would you say bruschette is a must? With so many other yummy and healthy things to eat at a trattoria why on earth would you eat bread? It's just carbs. Enjoy the fresh vegies and delicious protein instead.

1:08AM PDT on Oct 22, 2012

Thank you for info.

1:07AM PDT on Oct 22, 2012

Thank you for info.

9:55PM PDT on Oct 20, 2012

Great suggestions, thank you for sharing.

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thank you


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