Thai food has become ever more popular in Australia, and many people I know grab Thai as a easy take away option throughout the year. It is cheap and convenient and there is a lot of choice and variety. But what does the dietitian suggest we order?
Thai food has many healthy and not so healthy options. First things first, almost all Asian style foods are high in sodium as a result of the sauces that are added in stir frying and soup making. For this reason, the information provided is going to focus more from an energy and saturated fat perspective, as opposed to a sodium one.
Entrees- These have typically some of the highest kilojoules. This is because many have been deep fried such as spring rolls, prawn crackers and curry puffs. These are not a great option (but you don’t need me to tell you that). Shifting over to the soup menu as an entree will be far wiser when it comes to managing your energy intake from the meal.
Soups- Picking a clear based soup such as a tom yum, is a great option, either in a small serve as an entree to help fill your stomach prior to the main meal, or in a main serve size as your meal. Be aware that the coconut milk based soups are much higher in kilojoules.
Stir fries vs curries- Stir fries will usually win out as the lower kilojoules option between the two. Coconut cream based curries can be very high in total fat and kilojoules. Make sure you do not drink down the remainder of the liquid off your meat or vegetables, but rather just consume the food portion and let the liquid drain.
Rice and noodles- Fried rice and noodle dishes are very high in kilojoules, they are predominantly made from a high GI base such as jasmine rice which is then fried. These are not a good option for your waist line and should preferably be consumed in small amounts for the enjoyment, rather than as your main meal to obtain your nutrients.
Steamed rice- This rice again, is jasmine rice, and has a very quick release of energy, although it is a better option than a fried rice dish. But it still does not provide you with much in the way of satiety. There is little, if any, dietary fibre, and with a very high GI (87), you could be left feeling quite hungry very soon after its consumption.
Salads-There are many healthy salads on the menu such as Thai beef salads, grilled chicken salads or prawn salads. These are all great options, and can confidently be kept on your order.
So in summary, going for the clear based soup, thai salads or a stir fry containing some vegetables together with a protein source coming from poultry, lean meat (if that is available) or seafood, will be your best option when it comes to your next Thai take away meal.