How to Order Healthier Thai Food
Although Thai cuisine is primarily made up of rice- and noodle-based dishes, many dishes are loaded with calories and fat. But don't let popular (and fatty) dishes like chicken pad Thai (720 calories, 20 g fat, 105 g carbs) turn you away from all Thai food. Follow these simple guidelines to enjoy your favorite dishes and keep your nutrition on track:
Opt for brown rice.
Brown rice has nearly three times as much fiber as white rice, which is commonly used in Thai cooking. Plus, brown rice is loaded with antioxidant-packed nutrients like manganese (benefits the nervous system) and selenium (shown to help reduce the risk of colon cancer).
Skip dishes made with coconut milk.
A cup of coconut milk that many restaurants use can contain as much as 552 calories and nearly 51 g of saturated fat. A dish made with coconut milk can have more than half a day's calories in it. To cut back on overall calories, skip dishes made with coconut milk unless you know it’s made with light coconut milk. Instead, choose dishes like cashew chicken or broth-based options like hot and sour shrimp soup.
Order dishes with lots of veggies.
Avoid fried menu items.
A lot of Thai dishes have fried vegetables, noodles, rice and meat. Not only are they high in calories and fat, but eating them will leave you feeling sluggish. Instead, choose the non-fried choices like steamed spring rolls.
Spice up your dish.
Spices like lemongrass, chiles, basil, and galangal (similar to ginger) are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants that help support the immune and circulatory systems. Spicy curries contain high levels of turmeric, which has been shown to help reduce inflammation.
Choose one of these four dishes.
If you're ordering out, try chicken Thai (430 calories, 8 g fat, 30 g carbs) or Thai vegetable curry with rice (350 calories, 4 g fat, 25 g carbs). Cook your own healthy Thai food at home with our coconut Thai curry wrap or Thai chicken salad recipes.
About The Author
Danielle LaFata – As a Performance Nutrionist at Athletes' Performance in Phoenix, Arizona, Danielle LaFata delivers nutritional counseling and education to both athletes and the general population.