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Good Choices for Dieters at Chinese Restaurants

Chinese food may seem like a nutritious low-calorie choice if you are on a diet, but depending on your order, you can get a healthy low-cal meal or a calorie nightmare.

If you are on a diet, eat the way the Chinese do. Rice is the centerpiece of the meal, and diners eat from their small rice bowls, not from big dinner plates. Meat and vegetables are selected from the serving dishes, almost one bite at a time, added to the bowl, and eaten with rice. Also, if you can’t pass up an especially fatty dish, be sure to balance it with lean ones. Ask for brown rice, which has more fill-you-up fiber.

Generally, the protein foods in Chinese cuisine — duck, spareribs, and pork — are extremely fatty, although you can also find chicken, shrimp, and lean beef. Much of the food is deep fried — even items that may surprise you, such as vegetables in a simple stir-fry are sometimes blanched in hot oil instead of water. And the amount of oil in stir-fries can be staggeringly large.

Family-style dining (large dishes are placed on the table for guests to help themselves) offers another temptation to eat too much simply because the food is there. So start with small portions and have seconds only if you’re really hungry.

Choose more of these:

  • Bean curd (unless fried)

  • Fish, shrimp, and scallops

  • Hot and spicy, as opposed to deep fried

  • Served on a sizzling platter (which means the entrée is broiled or roasted)

  • Vegetables

  • Velvet sauce

Eat less of these:

  • Anything served in a bird’s nest

  • Batter-fried foods

  • Breaded and fried foods

  • Crispy noodles on the table

  • Sweet-and-sour dishes

  • Sweet duck sauce

  • Twice-cooked dishes

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