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How Do I Choose the Best Healthy Entree?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 17, 2024
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What makes a healthy entree is different for each person, but generally speaking, some entrees are healthier than others. This is particularly true when discussing entrees that are purchased in restaurants, as many of these food items come in large portions or may include ingredients that are unknown to diners. At home, choosing healthy entrees typically involves considering what ingredients go into a meal and determining whether those ingredients are themselves healthy. In some special cases, an entree might be healthy for one person but unhealthy for another.

One of the biggest problems when choosing a healthy entree at a restaurant is determining what ingredients go into a dish. Seemingly healthy foods, like salads or fish, can become extremely unhealthy when prepared in certain ways. For this reason, it is a good idea to consult nutritional information tables if they are available.

When actual information about food is not available, choosing a healthy entree involves making educated guesses about the nutritional content of food. Anything fried, stuffed, or breaded is unlikely to be healthy. Sauces that include mayo, butter, or other unhealthy ingredients can cause an otherwise healthy entree to fall on the unhealthy side. Familiarity with the ways in which certain foods are prepared can help in avoiding fattening dishes.

In terms of preparation, steamed foods are typically quite healthy. Vegetarian or vegan food is also often low in calories, although this is not true if the entree is fried. Meats that are lean can be very healthy, but preparation is key when evaluating the nutritional value of these foods in restaurants.

Choosing the best healthy entree at home is much easier and involves looking at the ingredients that go into a dish before preparing it. Many recipes offer information about calories, fat content, and other nutritional details that can help identify healthy entrees. One thing to keep in mind with these recipes is that portion size must be controlled in order for the nutrition information to be accurate.

In order to determine whether an entree is healthy, it is important to look at more than just the meal being eaten. A balanced diet includes eating habits overall as well as current deficiencies. On some days, a high-protein meal might be exactly what a body needs, but on others a high-carb meal might be more appropriate. Being flexible and mindful when choosing healthy entrees can help cultivate an intuitive sense for healthy dining, reducing the need to calculate and monitor nutrition constantly.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Hazali — On Aug 07, 2014

In relation to the last paragraph, I like how it mentions that there's more to a healthy entree than making sure it's the case. Overall, it's a about having a healthy lifestyle. I mean, what good is it if you have a salad once a week, but McDonald's five times a day? It's all about keeping a balanced diet.

By Viranty — On Aug 06, 2014

If you're at a restaurant, and you're looking for a healthy entree, before ordering it, you should ask the waiter/waitress how it can be prepared. Listing a few examples, a salad can be a lot healthier depending on how it's prepared, stated by the article and Euroxati as well. However, another example can be the oil that's used. One of the reasons why french fries are so fattening is because they're usually deep fried in certain types of oil. Changing the oil can make a world of difference. They actually did this a few years ago at McDonald's, and the fries are now healthier to eat.

By Euroxati — On Aug 06, 2014

Whether you're dining out or at home, choosing a healthy entree is a very important part of the experience. On top of this, it's funny how even if our main entree is healthy, we can add many things to it that makes the dish more fattening, even ruining the experience. Salad is a perfect example of this. Though the lettuce, tomatoes and cheese are a very healthy combination, certain types of dressing can add unneeded cholesterol. I like how the article brings up this point as well. Overall, it's important to take all factors into consideration.

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