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Healthy eating and exercise for life

What to Eat When You’re Eating at the Pizza Parlor

Pizza is a quick and easy meal that people of all ages enjoy. What started as an Italian dish transformed into a favorite meal. There are so many varieties of pizza that even the pickiest eater can find something they like. Unfortunately the portion sizes and toppings added to pizza can add enough calories and saturated fat to fulfill your daily requirements in one meal. Do you have to ruin your diet just because you have a yen for a slice?

No way! There are ways to indulge in pizza without forgoing your healthy eating habits—you can even add vegetables to beef up your intake of antioxidants, vitamins and more! Here are some tips to make your visit to the pizza parlor healthy without skimping on taste.

If you’re really hungry an appetizer may seem like a good idea. Pizza parlors now offer a variety of appetizers but you need to be careful because many of them are high in calories.

1 breadstick 140 calories
1 cheesestick 152 calories
2 buffalo wings 125 calories
Caesar salad 300 calories
side salad with “light dressing” 70 calories

What to order:

Skip the bread, cheesesticks and buffalo wings as they are small yet high in calories. Ordering a side salad with a light dressing will help keep you satisfied without extra calories (while adding veggies to your meal).

What Kind of Crust?
All crusts are created equal, right? Not any more; pizza parlors have become more creative and now offer different kinds of crusts for different tastes. The more crust, the more calories. Take a look at the different choices you can make, along with the caloric values (based on a 12” medium-sized pizza with cheese and tomato sauce only):

1 slice stuffed crust: 360 calories
1 slice deep-dish: 259 calories
1 slice regular crust: 212 calories
1 slice thin crust: 169 calories

What to order:

The thinner the crust, the fewer the calories and the more room you have to add toppings to your pizza. A stuffed crust slice of pizza will set you back 360 calories and that’s without any toppings! If you really enjoy the bread, indulge in a regular crust but your best option is a thin crust.

Toppings and Specialty Pizzas
So you’ve chosen your crust and now you want to pile it high with toppings? Sounds good but be careful – many of the meats and specialty pizzas are high in saturated fat and calories. By skipping the high-fat meats and opting for lean meats and veggies you’ll get a meal that provides vegetables and protein without the added saturated fat and calories. Check out the calorie differences of the toppings below for one slice of pizza (based on a 12” inch medium pizza):

Pepperoni 24 calories
Meat Combo (pepperoni, sausage, ham and beef) 45 calories
Veggies 5-10 calories
Ham and Pineapple 14 calories
Extra Cheese 50 calories

What to order:

You can pile on the toppings if you choose a wide variety of vegetables. Mushrooms, black olives, red and green peppers, tomatoes, onions, the list goes on and on. Be creative and try different combinations of veggies. If you’re in the mood for some meat then go for the ham and pineapple combination, which is lower in fat and calories. Most of the specialty pizza combinations contain a lot of meat with very few vegetables (and some contain higher fat sauces). Extra cheese can cause calories to add up quickly so don’t add extra cheese.

Here’s one example of how to make lighter choices (and how those choices can really make a difference) at your favorite pizza parlor:

“Lighter” Version Full Calorie Version
Side salad w/light dressing 70 calories Caesar salad 300 calories
Thin crust pizza (2 slices) 338 calories Deep Dish (2 slices) 518calories
Topped w/mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, green peppers (topping for 2 slices) 15 calories Topped w/pepperoni and sausage (topping for 2 slices) 138 calories
Total: 423 calories   956 calories

Eating pizza doesn’t have to derail your healthy eating plans. Every pizza parlor makes a different pizza and the sizes will often vary. If you’re unsure about the portion sizes, ask your waiter for the nutritional brochure or check out the Web site before leaving home. Keep in mind that portion control is important so only order what you need (and consider ordering by the slice). By topping your slices with veggies you’ll fill up faster and resist the temptation to reach for another slice.