Eating tips

Chinese - Top 5 tips


  • Don’t ask for prawn crackers or rice crackers before your meal
  • Ask for your meal to be prepared without MSG (monosodium glutamate, an artificial flavour enhancer, which contains a lot of sodium)
  • Order boiled or steamed rice and avoid egg-fried rice
  • Choose stir-fried dishes, not deep fried ones. Ask for only a small amount of oil to be used
  • Do not add salt to your food. A little light soy sauce will add lots of extra flavour.

Healthy choices

Starters

  • Clear broths like wanton, chicken & sweetcorn and hot & sour soups
  • Grilled seafood and shellfish

Main courses

  • Steamed, roast or stir-fried chicken, pork, fillet steak or seafood
  • Stir-fried vegetable dishes
  • Bean sauces such as yellow bean or black bean sauce, oyster sauce, ginger and hoisin or plum sauce

Side orders

  • Steamed or boiled rice or noodles
  • Bean curd or tofu
  • Extra vegetables including snow peas, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, string beans, bean sprouts, bok choy, mushrooms and Chinese broccoli

Deserts

  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Rice cakes
  • Green tea

Where to go easy

Starters

  • Deep-fried parcels such as spring rolls, wantons, sesame toasts and dumplings

Main courses

  • Duck, especially with skin
  • Deep-fried and battered chicken, pork or prawns
  • Nut-based sauces such as satay (peanut) or cashew nut sauces

Side orders

  • Fried rice and deep-fried or crispy noodles
  • Prawn crackers

Deserts

  • Banana or pineapple fritters
  • Toffee apples

Sandwiches - Top 5 tips


  • Watch your bread! Choose sandwiches made from two pieces of bread from a regular sliced pan. Choose wholemeal bread where you can. Rolls and baguettes can contain the equivalent of five slices of bread so you could be overdoing it, even if you choose healthy fillings
  • Choose low-fat, low-calorie, healthy option ready-made sandwiches where you can
  • Many sandwiches, rolls and salads have hidden ingredients. Have a look at the nutrition label to check the calorie, fat and salt contents
  • If you request a freshly made sandwich, ask for wholemeal bread, lean meat, poultry or fish, loaded with salad, vegetables and a tablespoon of low-fat dressing for the ultimate healthy option
  • Have a small snack after your sandwich, such as fruit or low-fat yoghurt. This adds variety and interest to your healthy lunch.

Healthy choices

Sandwiches

  • Turkey or chicken breast (skinless)
  • Roast beef or lean ham
  • Tuna, prawn, salmon or crab meat without mayonnaise
  • Egg, Quorn slices, couscous or tofu wraps
  • Low-fat cheese or cottage cheese
  • Low-fat dressing, vinegar, low-fat spread, low-fat mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup
  • Extra salad for fibre and bulk
  • Wholemeal bread, granary bread, pita bread or tortilla wraps

Salads

  • Tomato-based salad
  • Low-fat coleslaw
  • Low-fat hummus, salsa or yoghurt dips with freshly cut vegetables
  • Pasta, rice or noodles with salad
  • Sushi

Extras, snacks and treats

  • Broth-type soups
  • Low-fat yoghurt, fromage frais or bio yoghurt
  • Probiotic drinks
  • Fruit, unsweetened fruit juice or fruit salad
  • Low-fat, low-calorie cereal bars
  • Rice cakes
  • Low-fat rice pudding or custard
  • Yoghurt-based smoothies
  • Flavoured water or diet drinks
  • Low-fat lattes or cappuccinos

Where to go easy

Sandwiches


  • Bacon, sausage, cheese, coleslaw or a mixture of these
  • Processed meats such as salami, pepperoni or corned beef
  • Any meat with skin or visible fat
  • Mayonnaise, oil dressing, butter or full-fat margarine
  • Large rolls, white bread, cheese baguettes or oily breads, like focaccia
  • Croissants, crumpets, muffins or stuffed breads

Salads

  • Potato salad or coleslaw
  • Cheese
  • Croutons

Extras, treats & snacks:

  • Chocolate bars
  • Cream or ice cream-based desserts
  • Cakes, buns or tarts
  • Full-fat milk, yoghurt, custard or puddings
  • Sweets, toffees, crisps
  • Danishes, muffins, biscuits
  • Fizzy soft drinks, milkshakes, full-fat milk or cream-based coffees

BBQ - Top 5 tips


  • Choose lean cuts of meat instead of burgers and sausages. Choose chicken, turkey, fish, steak or pork in place of fatty and salty meats
  • Cut off fat from the meat before you cook. Keep food a good distance from the coals to allow fat to melt and drip away
  • Try barbequed sliced vegetables or skewered vegetable kebabs
  • Barbeque oily fish, rich in beneficial fatty acids, such as mackerel, tuna or salmon instead of red meat
  • Baste food with low-fat, low-salt tasty marinades instead of oil. This food will be full of flavour without added fat or salt

Healthy choices


  • Chicken or turkey without skin
  • Oily and white fish
  • Very lean red meat such as pork or steak (fat cut off)
  • Barbeque vegetables and prepare kebabs using cherry tomatoes, courgette chunks, onions, aubergine, peppers and mushrooms
  • Enjoy plenty of fresh salads and choose low-fat salad dressings
  • Cook potatoes in the microwave for a few minutes, wrap in tin foil and place on the edge of the coals for crispy-skinned, moist potatoes
  • Vegetable sticks with hummus or yoghurt-based dips

Where to go easy


  • Too much fatty and salty meat
  • Burgers and sausages
  • Mayonnaise-rich salads and full-fat salad dressings
  • Buttery garlic bread
  • Chips and fatty, mayonnaise-based dips

Italian - Top 5 tips


  • Enjoy a few olives before your meal but don't over-indulge. Go easy on the bread basket
  • Ask for salad dressing or oil and vinegar to be served separately
  • Avoid high-fat choices such as salami, pepperoni and cured meats, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, creamy or cheese-based sauces and rich salad dressings
  • Opt for flavoursome tomato-based pasta sauces, grilled meat, seafood, chicken or veal
  • If you just can't resist dessert, share with a friend.

Healthy choices

Starters

  • Marinated seafood, marinated or baked mushrooms and vegetables
  • Steamed or baked shellfish
  • Minestrone, vegetable or lentil soups

Salads and side orders

  • Seafood, chicken, green or tossed salads with dressing on the side

Main courses

  • Veal, chicken or seafood in lemon or wine sauces such as Picatta or Cacciatore
  • Primavera dishes
  • Grilled fish

Pasta

  • Tomato-based sauces such as Arrabiata
  • Marinara sauces
  • Pasta Primavera

Pizza

  • Vegetable toppings including spinach, onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppers and herbs
  • Seafood or Marinara
  • Chicken

Deserts

  • Fresh fruit or fruit salad

Beverages

  • Limit your wine intake. Enjoy sparkling mineral water with lemon instead

Where to go easy

Starters

  • Cheese-smothered crostini and bruscetta
  • Parma ham or salami antipasti

Salads and side orders

  • Caesar salad or other salads with bacon, parmesan cheese, olives or deep-fried croutons
  • Garlic bread
  • Sautéed or deep fried mushrooms or onions

Pasta

  • Tomato-based sauces such as Arrabiata
  • Marinara sauces
  • Pasta Primavera

Pizza

  • Extra cheese or processed meat toppings

Deserts

  • Avoid rich, creamy desserts such as tiramisu

Japanese - Top 5 tips


  • Don't be afraid to ask what a Japanese name means and how food is cooked
  • Ask if your food can be grilled instead of fried
  • Enjoy the variety of fresh and raw fish, especially oily fish such as tuna and salmon, that are rich in beneficial fatty acids
  • Choose dishes that are grilled (yakimono), steamed (mushi) or stewed (nabe) and avoid the many deep-fried options
  • Go for soft ramen noodles instead of teppan-fried or yaki soba noodles.

Healthy choices

Starters and side orders

  • Sashimi, sushi, norimaki and temaki
  • Grilled dumplings (gyoza)
  • Steamed soya beans (edamame)
  • Miso soup and sui
  • Japanese-style sticky rice

Main courses

  • Teriyaki and yakitori dishes
  • Yosenabe (seafood stew)
  • Sukiyaki (beef)
  • Shabu-shabu (thin sliced beef with mushrooms and other vegetables)
  • Buta shoga-yaki (thin sliced ginger pork)
  • Ramen noodles
  • Rice and vegetable dishes such as cha han

Where to go easy


  • Tempura (battered and deep-fried vegetables or shellfish)
  • Fried dumplings
  • Deep-fried fish, noodles (yaki soba), meat or tofu

Mexican - Top 5 tips


  • Enjoy the salsa served before your meal but avoid the deep-fried corn tortilla chips. Ask for a flour tortilla instead
  • Ask for soured cream and guacamole to be served on the side. Don’t eat too much of these. Swap soured cream for natural yoghurt if you can
  • Ask for only a little cheese in your meal
  • Go for lean meat, chicken and bean dishes.

Healthy choices

Starters

  • Black bean soup
  • Gazpacho
  • Tostada

Side orders

  • Yellow, Mexican or plain rice
  • Pico de gallo
  • Salsa
  • Tortillas
  • Black beans

Main courses

  • Soft or flour tortillas
  • Tostadas, burritos, soft tacos, enchiladas, tamales and fajitas without extra soured cream, cheese or guacamole
  • Strips of spicy chicken or beef
  • Steamed tamales or corn tortillas filled with chicken or beans

Salads

  • Mexican salad without cheese

Deserts

  • Fruit flan

Where to go easy


  • Extra servings of soured cream, guacamole, re-fried beans or cheese
  • Deep-fried corn tortilla chips
  • Fried filled tortillas (chimi-changas)
  • Deep-fried chicken wings or tortilla fillings (flauta)
  • Sometimes dishes made with mince, such as chilli con carne can be fatty. Ask about this before you choose.

Indian - Top 5 tips


  • Enjoy a small amount of the poppadom and chutney appetizers but avoid deep-fried snacks
  • Ask for foods that are grilled or baked instead of fried
  • Go for chicken, seafood or vegetarian dishes instead of lamb, which can be very fatty
  • Enjoy the variety of vegetarian, bean and lentil dishes available
  • Choose sauces carefully; go for tomato or yoghurt-based sauces instead of rich creamy or nut sauces. Ask if you're unsure.

Healthy choices

Starters

  • Lentil, mulligatawny or tomato soups
  • Grilled kebabs
  • Poppadams or bread with chutney and relishes (Aloo Papri Chaat)

Side orders

  • Boiled rice
  • Chapati and plain naan bread
  • Raita (yoghurt and cucumber dip) with poppadams
  • Chutneys
  • Onion and chilli salads

Main courses

  • Yoghurt or tomato tomato-based sauces
  • Chicken or prawn dishes
  • Dishes flavoured with ginger, garlic, chilli or coriander
  • Vegetarian dishes such as Aloo Channa, Gobi Aloo, Dal and Bhaingan Bharta
  • Tandoori dished (baked in a tandoor)

Deserts

  • Fruit sorbet

Where to go easy

Starters

  • Deep-fried pakora, bhaji and samosas
  • Fried cheese (paneer)

Side orders

  • Stuffed or butter naan breads such as Peshawari, Paratha or Lachhedar
  • Pilau or fried rice

Main courses

  • Cream, nut and coconut sauces
  • Butter (ghee) and lamb dishes

Deserts

  • Patisa (pastry with pistachio nuts)
  • Kulfi (milk and pistachio ice-cream)
  • Alab Jamun (deep-fried milk dough with syrup)

Thai - Top 5 tips


  • Avoid deep-fried starters,
  • Watch out for the peanuts, satay and coconut sauces
  • Dressings aren’t as rich or creamy as often seen in Western cookery but should still be served on the side
  • Steer clear of sticky, starchy sweets
  • Go for salads, hot, clear soups, stir-fries with loads of veggies and refreshing tea for afters.

Healthy choices

Starters

  • Spicy chicken or mushrooms (larb gai or larb hed)
  • Salads with cucumber (yum tang kwa), beans and bean sprouts (yum wun sen), cabbage, prawns and thin strips of meat and poultry
  • Hot, clear soups with chicken (tom yam gai) or prawns (tom yum gung)

Rice and Noodles

  • Steamed or rapidly stir-fried noodle dishes containing lots of veg, white meat or fish, and aromatics
  • Rice, if you go for the fragrant, steamed variety

Main courses

  • Stir-fried meat and fish. The quick cooking and healthy ingredients makes these the dishes to go for, whether with chicken (gai), prawns (gung) or beef (neur)

Deserts

  • Finish with tea

Where to go easy


  • Deep-fried starters, such as egg rolls (po pia tod), spring rolls (paw pia sod) or fried tofu (tao hu tod)
  • Soups based on coconut milk, such as chicken coconut soup (kai tom kha) or soup with deep fried wontons (keow nam).
  • Dishes that are lavished with peanut sauce (satay)
  • Deep-fried egg noodles - (mee krob)
  • Thai curries, like green curry (gaeng khiad wan), which are often based on coconut or peanuts
  • Sticky rice desserts based on coconut

General tips

Whether it’s posh nosh or a quick sandwich lunch, eating out is becoming the norm for many people. Recent dietary surveys show that we eat up to a quarter of our calories outside of our home each day.

Of course, lots of food in restaurants is healthy, but restaurant foods tend to be higher in fat, the portions can be bigger and they serve you temptations that you simply wouldn’t keep in your kitchen at home. Unfortunately, this can add up to extra calories, fat and salt if you are not careful.

You want to enjoy eating out without feeling guilty. So here are a few pointers to keep you healthy without spoiling the fun.

Don’t arrive starving

Eat a small, healthy snack a couple of hours before your meal to make sure you are not tempted to eat everything in sight.

Avoid the nibbles

At the beginning of a meal, when you are hungry, it’s very easy to fill up on the bread, poppadams, tortilla chips, etc. Try to avoid these extras.

Fill up on low-fat foods first

Make sure your starter is something light, like soup or salad. That way, there is a good chance that you won’t eat too much later on during the rest of the meal.

Ask

Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions or alterations. Ask for sauces and dressing on the side, vegetables to be served without butter, salad or extra vegetables instead of chips. Most places are used to this.

Watch the fats

Go for vegetable, chicken or fish dishes over fattier meat dishes. Avoid creamy sauces in favour of tomato-based sauces. Choose baked or boiled potatoes over chips. Ask whether the food can be grilled instead of fried.

Eat slowly

Enjoy your meal and the company. Give your body time to give you the signal that you are satisfied.

Your mother was wrong

You don’t have to clean your plate. Cover the remaining food with your napkin if you like.

Share

If you are still hungry, try to choose one of the lower fat dessert options like fruit or sorbet. If you want to go for one of the more indulgent options, why not share?

Drink to your health

Enjoy your glass or two of beer or wine, and sip water with your drink to reduce your alcohol intake.

Healthy eating at your favourite restaurant

Whether it’s Chinese, Indian or barbequed food that tickles your fancy, take a look at our tips on how to stay on track when eating these types of food.