Search     |     Share     |     Blog     |     My Food Diary     |     Login
Healthy eating and exercise for life

What to Eat When You’re Eating Chinese

What to Eat When You’re Eating Chinese

Frequently found on city street corners and in shopping malls, Chinese cuisine is a favorite comfort food for many people. These days, it’s just as easy to get Chinese food delivered to your doorstep as it is to get a pizza. Chinese food can be healthful and nutritious, but beware of some of the calorie “pitfalls” that may await you if you are not careful to make the right choices. Chinese dishes -- such as steamed vegetables, fish and rice -- are nutritionally balanced and low in fat and calories. But, some Chinese food can be high in fat, as well as calories, so it is important to learn about all the options. Here are some suggestions on how to select Chinese meals that will fit into a nutritious, calorie-conscious eating plan:

Appetizers
Be careful of the tempting fried noodles that sit on the table while you wait for your meal — it is easy to munch on these without giving it any thought and then, before you know it, you’ve packed on extra calories!

1 eggroll

300-350 calories

1 mini spring roll

165 calories

1 vegetable dumpling (steamed)

25 calories

Hot and Sour or Wonton Soup (1 cup)

110 calories

What to order: When it comes to appetizers, a good choice is to stick with soups like hot and sour or wonton soup, which are lower in calories and fat than many other appetizer alternatives. Steamed spring rolls or dumplings are better choices than egg rolls because they are not fried, saving you calories and fat. Choose steamed vegetarian spring rolls or dumplings instead of those stuffed with meat, which can save you approximately 50 calories per roll/dumpling.

Drinks
Make sure to drink lots of water (alone and in addition to tea, soda or an alcoholic beverage) since Chinese food can be high in sodium, causing dehydration and bloating.

Soft Drink (12 oz.)

150 calories

Sake (3 oz.)

115 calories

Hot Tea

0 calories

Diet Soft Drink

0 calories

What to order: Take advantage of no-calorie hot tea, a Chinese staple that has added health benefits. As always, water and diet sodas are good, no-calorie choices. Calories from alcoholic beverages like Sake, beer or wine can add up quickly so limit these choices.

Main Entrees
Chinese food is plentiful in nutritious, vitamin-packed vegetables so take advantage of the wide assortment available. Fill up on steamed veggies and leaner meats that are not fried or “swimming” in sauce. You can always request the sauce “on the side.”

Crispy Fried Chicken (1 cup)

485 calories

Beef Chow Mein (1 cup)

420 calories

Sweet and Sour Pork (1 cup)

316 calories

Chicken and Broccoli (1 cup)

280 calories

What to order: Good, lower-calorie choices include: steamed, broiled or roasted chicken, beef, pork or shrimp Chow Mein, Chop Suey, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and of course, steamed veggies. Anything described as crispy, coated, marinated, twice-cooked or battered suggests higher calorie and fat contents. Some restaurants even have a light menu which features steamed chicken, shrimp or fish with steamed vegetables, which will always be your best bet.

Sides and Desserts
It’s hard to imagine eating a Chinese meal that doesn’t include rice. However, orders of rice are usually extremely large so make sure to be mindful of portion control.

Fried rice (1 cup)

235-370 calories

White rice (1 cup)

150 calories

Fortune Cooke

25 calories

What to order: Fried rice is basically white rice with added soy sauce and fried vegetables and eggs. Therefore, it is higher in fat and sodium. Stick with white rice and if that seems a little boring, add your own flavorful sauces that are low in fat (like sweet n’ sour, duck or plum sauce) to give it a little extra kick! Adding steamed mixed vegetables that are rich in fiber will help fill you up as well. Dessert is simple-- a fortune cookie is the perfect sweet ending to your meal, and they’re only about 25 calories each.

Here’s just one example of how you can make lighter choices (and how those choices can really make a difference) at your favorite Chinese restaurant:

“Lighter” Version

Full Calorie Version

Chicken with Broccoli (1 cup)

280 calories

Crispy Fried Chicken (1 cup)

485 calories

White Rice (1 cup)

150 calories

Fried Rice (1 cup)

235-370 calories

1 Mini Spring Roll

165 calories

1 Egg Roll

300-350 calories

Hot tea/diet soda/ water

0 calories

Sake (3 oz)

115 calories

Total:

595 calories

 

1135-1320 calories

As you can see, you can still eat delicious Chinese cuisine without feeling guilty. By choosing smart like the example provided above, you can save up to 760 calories!