Healthy Food Choices in a Chinese Restaurant

by Yu Qing

Chinese food is one of the healthiest food choices available. Jeffrey Nevid, author of the book, "Health in the New Millennium," encourages restaurant patrons to eat Chinese food the "Chinese way, not the American way." Traditionally, Chinese families eat a lot of rice, with some fish, meat and vegetables. Westernized Chinese food is unhealthy and includes dishes that are heavy in meat and sodium, as well as deep-fried foods. Fortunately, it is easy to make healthy food choices in Chinese restaurants.

Avoid Deep-Fried Foods

Traditional Chinese food is not usually deep-fried. Avoiding deep-fried foods will help keep your meal healthy and authentically Chinese. Westernized versions often include deep-fried options to satisfy American taste palates. Fried foods are made with excess oil and carbohydrates, which make deep-fried dishes especially fattening. It is easy to replace fried options for healthy dishes. For example, instead of fried wontons or egg rolls, order steamed dumplings. Or, ask for non-fried versions of the deep-fried dishes.

Order More Vegetables

Many of the calories in Chinese dishes come from meat. To avoid these extra calories, order dishes that favor vegetables over meat. If you have a favorite meat dish, ask them to use less meat and more vegetables. Order steamed vegetables as a highly nutritious option. Steamed vegetables aren't stir-fried with oil. Though some stir-fry dishes may contain less oil, the lack of oil in steamed vegetables makes the dish healthier. Consequently, they are low in fat, calories and sodium. Moreover, favoring vegetables over meat makes it easier for you to cut down on eating high-calorie meats.

Order More Rice

Eating a higher rice-to-entrée ratio helps to lower the sodium and fat content in your portions. Nevid suggests a 1-cup-entrée-to-1-cup-rice ratio when eating. Moreover, order white or brown rice instead of fried rice. Fried rice is stir fried with oil, and contains many more calories than plain white or brown rice.

Order Family-Style

Family-style is when different entrees of larger portions meant for five to six people are shared around the table. Ordering family-style gives you the freedom to order a balanced meal, and to limit excess food intake. When ordering separate dishes, restaurant patrons are limited to the nutrients on their own dish. Instead, order a balanced meal to share with friends and family. Include vegetable, meat and rice dishes. When ordering separate dishes, restaurant-goers often eat directly from the entrée plate, which increases their intake of high-calorie sauces that make a large percentage of calories in a Chinese meal. Moreover, Chinese entrees are very generous, and eating too much food on your own is excessive. Eating family-style encourages people to take small amounts of food each time. Transferring portions to your rice bowl keeps the majority of high-calorie sauces on the plate, and prevents you from overeating.

About the Author

Yu Qing is a freelance writer based in California. She has more than four years' experience and has been published in various print and and online publications She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in English.