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Ethnic Food Without the Fat

We break down which exotic dishes are diet-friendly and which only leave you stuffed with extra calories.

We love international cuisine, and we hope you do, too. The good news is you can “eat the world” without compromising your diet. Rule numero uno: Know the ingredients. “Always ask what’s in the food you’re ordering,” says Jim White, R.D., spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “If you hear a lot of cream sauces, butters, or oils, these can add major calories to your meal.” Here are his tips on navigating the globe, one healthy meal at a time.


One of the world’s great cuisines, but avoid tempuras, cream sauces, eel sauce (too much added sugar) and sushi rolls with “crunchies.”

Diet Killers: katsu (deep-fried pork cutlet), crunchy volcano roll with spicy mayo sauce
Belly Friendly: sashimi (plain raw fish), futomaki roll (with no tamago), and edamame (without salt)
Good to Know: Rolls made with brown rice have the same calorie content as their white rice counterparts, but contain more fiber and nutrients.


It’ll fire up your taste buds. Just be wary of dishes prepared with generous portions of oil or coconut milk, which is high in calories and saturated fat.

Diet Killers: samosas, cream- based curry dishes, ghee (melted butter), and masala
Belly Friendly: fishkabobs; tandoori made with chicken, lamb, beef, or fish (it’s prepped without oil); roasted veggies; lentil dishes without cream. Look for “gram” or “pulse” on the menu—these are low-cal lentil and bean dishes that are packed with nutrients.



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