Atlanta has become a hub for international cuisine, to the delight of adventurous eaters. And it’s nice to know a global gastronomical experience doesn’t have to work against your health and fitness goals. Trying foods from different cultures may actually help combat diet fatigue by introducing you to a wider variety of healthy options. Read on for ideas on what to order—and skip—at some of the city’s most popular international restaurants.
Rumi’s Kitchen features grilled meats—a preparation method that is waistline-friendly. Start your meal with the arugula salad or Shirazi salad, both dressed with a low-fat yet flavor-packed lemon vinaigrette. The lamb kebab, chinjeh lubia polo, and barg kebab use loin cuts, which contain less fat. As a side, opt for the dill and fava bean saffron basmati rice, which contains more protein and fiber than plain saffron rice. For a vegetarian option, hummus provides a good source of protein and healthy fats. 6112 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs
Spicy Sichuan-style cooking methods are the mainstay of Gu’s menu. Low-calorie soups like egg drop or hot and sour fish can curb hunger and help you eat less later. For entrees, stir-fried vegetables with a choice of seafood, chicken, beef, pork, lamb, or duck are plentiful. Although oil is used in stir-frying, it’s a considerably smaller amount than that in a fried entree, such as the crispy fish fillet. Avoid the Kung Pao chicken, which can reach over 1,000 calories per serving! 5750 Buford Highway, Doraville
Sushi rolls are often considered healthy, no matter the type. But that’s not always true. Any tempura roll contains fat from fried ingredients. Tuna rolls often contain mayonnaise, and therefore more calories. For heart-healthy fats, opt for rolls with avocado or fatty fish, like the California, salmon skin, or house special rolls. Start your meal with a bowl of protein- and fiber-rich edamame. 3630 Peachtree Road
Indian dishes rely on spices like turmeric, cardamom, cumin, and ginger, which scientists believe may provide health benefits by reducing inflammation and improving cardiovascular health. Take advantage of these properties by enjoying one of the many curries offered. In addition to your entree, choose the roti, which is made with fiber-rich whole-wheat flour. For even more fiber and vitamins, choose a lentil- or chickpea-based dish, such as the dal Bukhara or Delhi chole. The tandoori shrimp or dhaba ka murg (tandoori chicken) are prepared using little added fat and calories. 77 12th Street
Traditional Italian food can be part of a healthy diet, but it’s all about balance. Start with the insalata mista rather than the Caesar salad, for a lower-calorie serving of fiber- and vitamin-rich vegetables. If you’re in the mood for pasta, an antioxidant-filled tomato-based dish like the spaghetti del pescatore will satisfy. The polletto al limone or the pesce arrosto are also good options for entrees. Keep the portions of chicken or fish to the size of the palm of your hand, and save the rest for lunch the next day. 313 North Highland Avenue
Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft
Thai cuisine offers plenty of steamed, grilled, or stir-fried entrees, with fresh, crispy vegetables. For an appetizer, the tom yum koong soup has about 150 fewer calories than the coconut-milk-based tom kha kai soup. Though many of the Bangkok street noodles have vegetables, these dishes often contain high-sodium soy sauce and may not be appropriate for people with high blood pressure. If you’re in the mood for curry, the panang or green curries are excellent options. If your beverage of choice is Thai tea, skip the refills: Each eight-ounce serving of this creamy beverage contains more calories than a 12-ounce can of soda. 1745 Peachtree Street
Melton is a registered dietitian nutritionist and Georgia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson. She owns LaCarte Wellness, a consultation firm specializing in wellness programs and health information technology, and teaches at Georgia State University.
This article originally appeared in our 2015 Health issue.