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Healthy Menu Navigator: Thai

Tom yom soup (Photo:
Tom yum soup (Photo:


Even if you know to steer clear of the bread basket, it turns out the average restaurant meal clocks in at a whopping 1,128 calories—yep, 1,128—making it easy for even the most health-savvy among us to think we’re eating well while eating out, when we’re not.

HealthyMenuNavigatorFinalEnter nutritionist-author Heather Bauer, of Bread is the Devil and Bestowed fame—and our culinary compass. Each week, Bauer steers us toward the healthiest choices on restaurant menus of any type.

Last week, it was Italian. This week, Thai food! Chai yo (that’s “cheers!”), everyone.

Heather Bauer’s Thai menu navigational nugget

Beware of the sauce! “A lot of Thai dishes have sugar, salt, and oil in their sauces,” Bauer warns.



1. Tom yum soup—a hot and sour starter you can get with chicken, shrimp, or tofu.

2. Som tum (AKA green papaya salad) is one of Bauer’s personal faves and is typically served raw. Or, ask for a simple Thai salad, which typically consists of mixed greens. Be sure to get it with a simple, light chili lime dressing, Bauer says.

3. One summer roll—pair it with a soup and salad for a complete meal.


1. Thai beef or shrimp salad are good options. Enjoy with a light app and soup.

2. Chicken satay…with no peanut sauce, sorry! If it’s listed in the appetizer section, don’t fret: Bauer’s big on ordering three starters (think salad, soup, and a lighter protein) to make a complete meal.

3. Shrimp, tofu, or chicken in chili basil sauce, but skip the rice. Split it with a friend and have a soup to start.


1. Pad thai—the uber-popular noodle dish is packed with carbs, salt, and calories. Learn to love other Thai dishes. You can do it!

2. Fried or sautéed tofu. It’s got lots of extra calories, because tofu soaks up oil.

Other no-nos: Anything creamy, fried, or in curry.

Hungry for more? Next week, Bauer’s spilling her secrets to ordering healthy Mexican food. Or check out last week’s guide to ordering Italian.