You Should Never Order Fried Rice At A Chinese Restaurant. Here's Why

Most of us can agree that Chinese food is delicious. Whether it's Kung Pao chicken, egg rolls, or dumplings — you really can't go wrong with the salty and sweet flavors. It is also very big business. A survey by the National Restaurant Association showed one-third of Americans eat Chinese food at least once a month (via China Daily). 

Of course, when you are in a rush and ordering takeout, it is not always easy to make the best, most well-informed nutritional choice. And unfortunately, no matter how yummy it tastes, if you are trying to watch your calories and eat healthier, fried rice is something you should steer clear of. While you can probably guess that a dish with the word "fried" right in its name might not be the best option, there are a couple of other reasons why you might want to skip it.

The problems with fried rice

According to WebMD, the main component of this dish is white rice, which doesn't have much fiber, and can cause you to not feel full. It's also typically filled with plenty of soy sauce, which adds tons of sodium, and, of course, is fried in oil that could potentially cause you to pack on the pounds. If you want a healthier option, try ordering brown rice instead, which has been shown to protect against type 2 diabetes. Livestrong also points out that more fat can be introduced into the dish, not just from the oil, but from fattier meats. Even worse yet is if those fatty meats have been deep-fried prior to being added to the rice.

A 1-cup serving of fried rice from a restaurant will run you about 7 grams of fat, and as for that sodium, the same portion packs a salty punch at 460 milligrams. We all know that one measly cup of fried rice doesn't cut it when you're in the mood for Chinese, and a typical 4-cup standard serving means you're looking at 1,840 milligrams of sodium, and 28 grams of fat. Daily recommended intake, you ask? No more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, and no more than 65 grams of fat.

How to hack healthier fried rice

Fried rice also typically contains very little protein and vegetables. If you really, truly want to eat fried rice, aim to make your meal more balanced. Cheat Sheet suggests making your own fried rice at home. That way you will be in control of the proportions. Add more protein and veggies, and cut down on oil and the amount of rice, or even try making yours with brown rice instead.

In fact, Slender Kitchen has a great fried rice recipe that is only 130 calories per serving and tastes restaurant quality. It also takes less than 10 minutes to make and the ingredients are simple too: brown rice, eggs, green onions, carrots, cabbage, and soy sauce. First, cook your eggs in a separate pan — this is recommended because if you add them uncooked to the rice they will likely become runny or soggy. Next, you start with ideally cold, and one-day-old rice because cold rice has less moisture making it perfect for frying. Cook it in a pan with your desired amount of soy sauce at high heat and stir often to avoid anything getting burned. Now, add your veggies, stir in eggs, and you're all set! You can also add a protein like chicken or tofu to help make the meal more hearty. 

The secret to getting healthier fried rice from a restaurant

But if you're like us and don't have much time to cook, there's also a trick you can try when ordering out to get a tasty side without the calories and fat of traditional fried rice. Nutritionist Rebecca Scritchfield told Self you can also just order brown rice and ask for scrambled eggs on the side. "Most takeouts have eggs for the fried rice, and they are willing to do this for you," she explained. "Brown rice has a lower glycemic index as compared to white rice, which helps reduce insulin spikes."

Livestrong also suggests that when you order from a restaurant, ask the chef to use no butter, and less oil, and ask for any other sauces to be put on the side. That way you're in control of how much you want to ultimately consume. Nutritionist and dietician, Rachael Hartley, said there's an even simpler solution. She told Insider you can just order brown rice and your favorite chicken, beef, or shrimp dish and mix them together. "Brown rice has a lot of fiber and is a bit more filling," Hartley said. "Adding brown rice is an easy modification you can make to your meal."