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How to Order Chinese Food without Blowing Your Diet

Some Chinese dishes that sound healthy are surprisingly fat-laden. These tips will help you avoid diet land mines.


  • Step 1: Get the spring roll Order the spring roll over the egg roll; it's often half the calories.
  • Step 2: Use chopsticks Use chopsticks if you normally eat with a fork and knife. It may take you longer to eat, giving your brain time to tell your tummy you're full before you clean your plate.
  • TIP: Put less sauce on your plate by using a fork or a chopstick to transfer food from a platter instead of the serving spoon.
  • Step 3: Order the shrimp Consider a shrimp dish: They're usually the best bet because the dish is apt to be mostly vegetables. Just make sure the shrimp isn't breaded and deep-fried. Steamed chicken or whole fish is also a smart choice.
  • Step 4: Get sauce on the side When ordering anything with sauce, ask for it on the side.
  • Step 5: Eschew the "combo" dishes Avoid dishes with the word "combo" or "house" in the name, which are usually more caloric than a plate with one main ingredient in the title.
  • Step 6: Avoid lemons and oranges Avoid entrees with "lemon" and "orange" in the names, like lemon chicken and orange beef. They may sound healthy, but the meat is usually breaded and deep-fried. The same goes for "sweet and sour" dishes.
  • TIP: Avoid General Tso's chicken and kung pao chicken; both are loaded with fat and calories. And chow fun is anything but when it comes to your waistline!
  • Step 7: Assume nothing Don’t assume the vegetarian plates are low-cal: Eggplant with garlic sauce and deep-fried tofu are loaded with fat and calories. To ensure a healthy vegetable entree, make sure it's steamed.
  • Step 8: Fill up on the rice Dine like the Chinese, who eat one portion of the entree to three portions of steamed – not fried – rice. Take the leftovers home or order fewer dishes than the number of people you're dining with.
  • TIP: While brown rice has the same number of calories as white rice, it offers four times the fiber.
  • Step 9: Steer clear of noodles Save your pasta fix for Italian night, when you can cover it in nutritious tomato sauce. Chinese restaurant dishes made with noodles, like lo mein, generally offer little but empty calories.
  • FACT: An order of spare ribs has as many calories as two large servings of pork chops.

You Will Need

  • Knowledge of Chinese menu items
  • Chopsticks
  • Restraint

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