Thai food is an exotic blend of contrasts. It is not unusual to find red-hot chili peppers, crisp lemongrass and earthy peanuts pleasantly co-mingling in the same dish. While Thai foods are exciting and challenge your palate, they can also put a strain on your diet. Full-fat coconut milk, heavy peanut sauce and fried noodles typically dominate Thai take-out menus. Therefore, it is important to choose wisely so that you can enjoy the experience and still make healthy food choices on the Weight Watchers points plan.
Eating Out Strategies
When dining out, the trick is to create a meal that feeds both body and spirit. This can be challenging since most cuisines feature some foods that are nutritionally sound and some that are not. The food of Thailand is no exception. But if you look past the deep-fried foods and heavy curries, you will find that Thai cuisine has an abundance of healthy options, including broth-based soups, steamed vegetables and herb-infused seafood, chicken and tofu dishes.
Crispy spring rolls are by far the most popular appetizer on any Thai menu. These small vegetable-filled wraps seem harmless enough, but once they are deep fried, an order of spring rolls brings a whopping seven Weight Watchers points to the table. Better options include a fresh spring roll or steamed dumplings; each is only two points per serving. Just remember to practice caution with the dipping sauce. One tablespoon of plum or peanut sauce has 80 calories, two points and very little nutritional value.
Of all the Thai noodle dishes, pad Thai is a hands-down favorite. Like crispy spring rolls, pad Thai appears to be a healthy choice. The combination of noodles, lean protein and vegetables dressed in a sweet peanut sauce raises no red flags, but the oil it is stir-fried in does. Once it leaves the wok, a cup of pad Thai clocks in at over 600 calories and has nearly 20 g of fat. That translates into 10 Weight Watchers points. If no healthier menu option appeals to you, consider sharing the noodles and a side of steamed vegetables with your dinner companion.
Thai curries are colorful, spicy and, depending on how they are made, caloric nightmares. For instance, one cup of Massaman beef curry made with full-fat coconut milk has 760 calories and represents 21 Weight Watchers points. While you can use your weekly points allotment for this decadent Thai splurge, there are other more healthy options such as ginger-infused chicken to choose from. At just eight points per cup, this dish offers a lighter Thai experience and pairs well with steamed rice and a side of vegetables.