I’m constantly being asked what to order in restaurants. From a nutritionist’s perspective, it can be difficult to navigate a menu to find the healthiest options… whilst also remembering to treat yourself every now and again!
Here are my nutrition-approved tricks to find the most healthy options for a bunch of my favourite cuisines:
- Go for lean protein (grilled, steamed or barbequed) with a side of green vegetables or a green salad.
- Often I actually go straight for the sides! Roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potato chips or simply steamed greens with lemon juice and olive oil are the perfect accompaniment to a meal!
- I also always pair my option up with a fresh green salad.
- Fried foods and creamy dressings. Ask for salad dressings on the side if you can.
- Miso soup or edamame beans.
- Slices of sashimi (white fish is best).
- 1x sushi roll with rice + fish or chicken – brown rice if possible.
- Sashimi salad with seaweed and avocado.
- Chicken/beef teriyaki with Asian vegetables, with sauce on the side, are other fabulous main meal options.
- Tempura dishes, Japanese mayo and heavy sauces.
- Lean protein (chicken/seafood) stir-fry with lots of colourful veggies!
- Opt for poached, steamed or grilled options that use simple Chinese flavours – like chilli, garlic and ginger.
- Dumplings, spring rolls and fried meats – it’s easy to overeat and lose a sense of portion control when you’re snacking on a lot of little fried dishes.
- Go for boiled rice instead of fried rice too – to cut down on unnecessary oils and fats.
- Grilled chicken breast, fish, veal or steak with steamed or grilled veggies and an Italian green salad.
- Pizza lover? Choose a thin crusted base and add lots of vegetable toppings e.g. tomato, capsicum, onion, mushrooms etc.
- Creamy pasta dishes.
- Processed meat toppings.
- Lean protein (fish, chicken or beef) with vegetables such as bok choy and chinese broccoli – incredibly nutritious!
- When it comes to stir-fries – look for ones made with lime, lemongrass, ginger, basil, chilli and garlic and not heavy sauces (peanut or coconut milk based).
- Dishes that are fresh and light! E.g. Tom Yum soup, a papaya salad with lean protein or a Thai beef salad.
- Fried dishes e.g. spring rolls, chicken wings or moneybags – tasty, but very high in oil and sodium.
- Choose vermicelli salads with lean beef or chicken, rice paper rolls and dipping sauces that are light and thin.
- Opt for steamed or poached seafood or meat with fresh herbs – full of flavour without any added nasties!
- Fried food and creamy sauce.
Remember, following the 80:20 approach like I do (80% good foods, 20% not so ‘perfect’ foods) means allowing wiggle room to indulge! Believe it or not, indulging is good for you – as long as it’s not all the time! Dining out should be a source of joy – a moment shared with loved ones – not something that causes anxiety or stress because there might not be the right or healthiest meal! Treat yourself once in a while, to a delicious meal or your favourite dessert when dining out… Your body and mind will thank you!