How to dine out healthy

The human body is designed for a very physically active life. To actually cultivate or hunt for food ourselves like what our ancestors did. The human genome has hardly changed since then. Our ancestors did not need any extra exercise nor did they count their calories.

We pay for the present modern sedentary life style and easy availability of foods with obesity and all the illnesses of affluence and comfort. Well, not to mention the mental agony of not being physically fit/appealing and an aged look. Do you youngsters really need that?

So what do we do? Go on a hunger strike? Or don’t socialise, because that’s when all the eating happens. Or better still close down all the restaurants that serve mouth watering cuisines of the world?? No! No! No!

How about just eating in moderation and following some tips given below!

Mexican Restaurants

  • Basic ingredients such as corn, beans, tortillas and tomatoes are low in fat.
  • Limit/avoid adding cheese, sour cream and guacamole.
  • Avoid fried tortilla shells and beans or other foods made with lard.
  • Low-fat choices include salsa, gazpacho, red beans and rice, soft chicken tacos, refried beans (no lard), taco salad (minus the fried shell), arroz con pollo (chicken with rice), fajitas and burritos.

Chinese Restaurants

  • Limit stir-fries and sweet-and-sour dishes that contain breaded and deep-fried meats.
  • Choose hot-and-sour soup, wonton soup, chicken chow mein, chicken or beef chopsuey, mushu chicken, stir-fried meat with vegetables, velvet sauce, steamed rice and fortune cookies.

Japanese Restaurants

  • Low-fat dishes that feature vegetables and condiment-size portions of chicken, seafood and beef are staples at Japanese restaurants.
  • Glazes and sauces are made with lean ingredients: broth, soy sauce (high in sodium), rice wine, sake.
  • Limit tempura (battered and fried) foods.
  • Low-fat choices include sushi, miso and bean soups, most combinations of grilled meats or seafood (such as scallops with oriental vegetables), teriyaki chicken, yosenabe, sukiyaki, udon (noodles), shabu shabu, steamed rice, rice noodles and green tea.

Italian Restaurants

  • Avoid fried foods like eggplant Parmesan, fatty meats such as sausage and prosciutto, carbonara, pasta with white (cream) sauce.
  • Choose minestrone, breadsticks, pasta with red clam sauce, pasta with marinara sauce, chicken or veal cacciatore, veal picata, Italian ices and skim cappuccino.

Indian Restaurants

  • Limit dishes that feature coconut milk or cream.
  • Avoid butter naan, and thick gravies made of nuts and cream. Choose dry rotis or naans.
  • Choose tandoori dishes, sizzlers (mixed grill), and other low-fat choices like lentil and chickpea curries, chicken and vegetables, chicken rice pilaf, basmati rice, raita (cucumber and yogurt sauce), and fruit and vegetable chutneys.
  • High fat desserts are gulab jamuns, carrot halwa, shahi tukdas, which are fried in lots of butter/ghee. Acceptable low fat desserts would be rasagollas and rasa malais made with paneer (cottage cheese).

Parvathy R Krishnan.

The writer, a Nutrition & Dietetics expert, is a member of Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India.

Image: Flickr/creativecommons/brood wich