For many people, ordering Chinese food over the holidays is a tradition, especially on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. But can so-called commercial Chinese food , which is often high in fat and salt, fit into your plans for healthy holiday eating?
Turns out that it can, so long as you make some good menu choices and stay conservative with the sauce.
In “200 Surefire Ways to Eat Well and Feel Better,” Dr. Judith Rodriguez offers some great tips for eating Chinese food the healthy way:
Exercising Caution with Commercial Chinese Food
To maintain your healthy eating goals, there are areas of caution in Chinese feasting, including the fat, sodium and calorie content of the dishes you select.
Deep-fat frying is a common cooking technique for many menu items. Some foods are stir-fried in large amounts of oil and two of the most frequently used flavoring ingredients are monosodium glutamate (MSG) and soy sauce, both of which are high in sodium.
However, Chinese cuisine can be enjoyed as part of a sensible diet. Many of the standard dishes consist of noodles or rice build around a variety of vegetables that provide fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and phytonutrients.
Tofu or soybean curd provide low-fat, low cholesterol protein options. Many selections can be steamed, roasted and simmered, and can form part of your healthier options when on the go.
Pick dishes with these key terms:
Choose spring rolls instead of egg rolls for your appetizer. Both carry similar flavors, but spring rolls will provide fewer calories.
Do not assume that the vegetarian dishes are lower in fat or calories. Many dishes are of the deep-fried varieties. Steamed mixed vegetables will provide vitamins and minerals without the calories. Consider also dishes made with steamed chicken, fish or shrimp.
The Cantonese variety of Chinese cuisine tends to be lighter because fresh ingredients are part of the tradition. Choose that regional cuisine as much as you can.
Be sensible with sauces. Because sauces can add extra calories, fat, sugar, and sodium to your meal, ask for the sauce on the side so you can decide how much can be added to your meal.
Select hoisin, plum, hot mustard, or sweet-and-sour instead of lobster, soy, oster, and bean sauces. Remember, commercial sauces vary, and some may be higher in calories and sauces than [others].
SAMPLE HEALTHY CHINESE MENU
Egg drop soup
Bean curd with sauteed mixed vegetables
Grilled chicken stir-fry with brown rice
Want to lead a healthier lifestyle? 200 Surefire Ways to Eat Well and Feel Better is a collection of healthy choices in eating and lifestyle that can be made throughout the day in any situation! Expert nutritionist Dr. Judith Rodriguez shows you how a series of small steps implemented in your everyday life can be the key to controlling weight and wellbeing. Packed with illustrations, diagrams, step-by-step instructions, quick tips, and expert secrets, you’ll have the easiest time making healthy decisions without any difficult jargon or hard-to-follow eating plans. Use the meal planning ideas, savvy food shopping hints, restaurant meal selection guide, and exercise innovative tips as your resource for weight management and an overall healthy life.
Dr. Judith Rodriguez is a Registered Dietitian and has degrees in Nutrition and Cultural/Nutritional Anthropology and over 30 years of experience. She authored The Latino Food Lover’s Glossary and The Diet Selector. She is past president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Chairperson at the University of North Florida.
Claudia Sealey-Potts, PhD, RD Assistant Professor and the Dietetic Internship Program Director with specialty in childhood obesity prevention and treatment, nutrition education and international perspective of food and culture.
Jackie Shank, MS, RD Faculty/instructor with a specialty in nutrition education, cultural foods, and recipe modifications.
Jenna Braddock, MSH, RD A nutrition consultant with a specialty in the use of social media and faculty/instructor with an emphasis on community nutrition, nutrition education and recipe development.
Kate Chang, MS A nutrition consultant and faculty/instructor with a specialty in foods.Cathy Christie, PhD, RD Associate Dean and Professor, Co-author of I’d Kill for a Cookie, Fat is Not Your Fate, Eat to Stay Young, Latino Food Lover’s Glossary, and Editor of the Manual of Medical Nutrition Therapy.
Cathy Christie, PhD, RD Associate Dean and Professor, Co-author of I’d Kill for a Cookie, Fat is Not Your Fate, Eat to Stay Young, Latino Food Lover’s Glossary, and Editor of the Manual of Medical Nutrition Therapy.
Shahla Khan, PhD Certified Sports Nutrition Consultant and faculty/instructor with a specialty in Nutrition and Physical Activity and Nutrition and Health, and background in Clinical Exercise Physiology and Exercise Prescription.
Corrie Labyak, PhD, RD Assistant Professor with a specialty in obesity assessment methods, pediatric obesity, and nutrition and breast cancer survivors.
Jamisha Laster, MS, RD Nutrition consultant and faculty/instructor with an interest in bariatric surgery.Alexia Lewis, MS, RD Nutrition consultant and faculty/instructor with a specialty in wellness promotion and “nutrition made easy,” helping people find practical, easy ways to apply confusing nutrition information to their everyday lives.
Alexia Lewis, MS, RD Nutrition consultant and faculty/instructor with a specialty in wellness promotion and “nutrition made easy,” helping people find practical, easy ways to apply confusing nutrition information to their everyday lives.
Jen Ross, MSH, RD Nutrition Consultant in private practice and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor with a focus on disordered eating. Faculty/instructor with a focus on new foods, innovative food preparation techniques and recipe modification.