Even when you're trying your best, eating healthy when you're eating out can be difficult. The National Consumers League cautions that while restaurants such as P.F. Chang's may offer a variety of seafood, poultry and vegetable options, their portions are often oversize, and the dishes may be high in sodium or prepared with a high-fat cooking method like deep-frying. The key to avoiding these pitfalls is to know ahead of time how to select the healthiest items from any menu, regardless of the restaurant. If you have any doubts, don't hesitate to ask the manager about her recommendations for low-fat, low-calorie and low-sodium entrees.
Skip the soda, beer and high-sugar cocktails in favor of water, unsweetened tea or, if desired, a glass of wine.
Consider ordering two low-calorie appetizers -- around 200 to 300 calories each -- instead of one main entrée for a meal that is lower in total calories than most of P.F. Chang's entrée options. Confirm the caloric content of the appetizers with the information provided on the menu or speak to your server.
Opt for steamed, sautéed or grilled fish, shellfish, tofu, vegetables or poultry rather than beef or pork, and avoid any items that are breaded, battered, fried, deep-fried or pan-fried.
Request that your meal be "stock velveted" -- cooked with vegetable stock instead of oil -- or cooked with less or no oil for a reduction of up to 300 calories and 15 to 30 grams less fat per serving.
Ask that your meal be prepared without any added sauce. Request a small container of the sauce on the side so you can better control your sodium and sugar intake.
Request to have up to three additional types of vegetables added to your main dish entrée and, if desired, swap out a higher-fat protein like poultry for tofu in the meal.
Ask for steamed brown rice instead of white rice.
If you're on a sodium-restricted diet, ask that your food be prepared without any added salt or high-sodium seasonings.
Remember that the calorie totals listed for each dish on the P.F. Chang's menu do not include rice.
Consider ordering one full-sized entrée and sharing it, or asking that half be boxed up to save for your lunch or dinner the next day.
P.F. Chang's does not provide information on their menu about the sodium content of the restaurant's dishes. If this is a concern, talk to the manager.