There are plenty of ways to eat ethnic food that won’t ruin your weight loss or health goals. If you love Italian, Latin, French, Asian, or even African and Middle Eastern cuisines, there is certainly a place for every time of cuisine even when you’re watching your calorie intake. All it takes is tweaking some habits and recipes to eat rich, flavorful food that’s still healthy. Try these seven ways to eat ethnic food on a calorie budget.
1. Fill up on Fruit and Vegetable-Based Dishes
Filling up on fruit and vegetable-based dishes is one of the best ways to eat ethnic food while still staying calorie-conscious. If you’re at an authentic Middle Eastern restaurant, for instance, take advantage of the flavorful salads of onion, tomato, cucumber, and parsley. Not only is this dish low in calories, but it’s also an antioxidant powerhouse and full of fiber.
2. Choose Lean Proteins
A decent portion of protein is reasonable in calories and can also keep you satiated for the rest of the day. Whether you’re indulging in a spicy Ethiopian curry or some lean chicken fajitas, usually most ethnic restaurants have some kind of dish where the meat is grilled, baked, broiled, or braised in a stew. Choose these options first over deep fried or breaded cuts of meat.
3. Avoid Refined Carbohydrates
Whether it’s the flour tortilla at a South American restaurant or the white rice at an Indian café, refined carbohydrates are the death of eating ethnic food when you’re trying to lose weight and keep your calories in check. Try to steer clear of refined pastas and breads when eating ethnic food. They’ll only create a spike in blood sugar that will leave you feeling hungrier.
4. Pick Alcohol or Dessert, but Not Both
Many people love to unwind with a glass of wine or end a sumptuous meal with a lavish dessert. I understand that both options are super tempting. However, it’s best to pick either an alcoholic beverage to enjoy with your meal or a delectable dessert—not both! Both items are loaded with sugar and calories, which your body can easily store as fat.
5. Opt for Low Fat Dairy Products
Many ethnic cuisines use plenty of low fat dairy products in their cuisine. Middle Eastern, Indian, and some Mediterranean cuisines use lots of plain yogurt, which is an excellent source of probiotics, protein, and calcium. Low fat dairy products are fairly low in calories, making them a great choice to fill up on if you’re watching your calories.
6. Spicy Foods Could Raise Your Metabolism
Do you like hot and spicy foods? Studies show that regular consumption of hot peppers and spices can raise your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories! If you’re at a restaurant that offers spicy dishes like curry, don’t be afraid to indulge! These dishes can boost your metabolic rate, helping you burn more fat than you normally would.
7. Live a Little
So you overdid it and ate that cheesecake AND drank that glass of wine. Sometimes when you get caught up in the moment at an ethnic restaurant, it’s not unusual to go a little overboard. I don’t want you to sacrifice an awesome experience simply because of a few calories. If you really want to try a special dish that you’ll probably eat once in a lifetime, live a little and enjoy it! You can always get back on your regular calorie plan the next day.
Eating ethnic food can be a great change of pace if you’re sticking to a strict calorie requirement. What are some of your favorite healthy ethnic foods to eat that are still within your calorie range?