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Like most foods, pizza can be part of a healthy diet. Eating healthy does not mean you have to exclude certain foods from your diet – rather eat healthier versions and monitor portion sizes. A few simple considerations when ordering your next pizza can help save your family tremendous calories and offer added nutritional benefits.
1. Ask for less cheese. According to one source a slice of pizza has an average of 280 calories and approximately 10 grams of fat. Although cheese is loaded with calcium and protein, it can also contain an excessive amount of saturated fat and calories. A simple reduction of 1/4 cup of cheese can save approximately 110 calories.
2. Skip the meat. Many pizzas come loaded with high fat meats such as pepperoni, sausage, and bacon. Based on one national pizza restaurant chain adding meat to your pizza will provide an additional 20 to100 calories per slice.
3. Add extra tomato sauce. Tomato sauce is relatively low in calories and packed with healthy ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Specifically one antioxidant, lycopene, can be protective against certain cancers.
4. Choose thin crust. Pizza ordered with thin crust from a major national restaurant chain can save you approximately 1/4 of the calories compared to a pizza with standard crust.
5. Avoid white pizzas. Typically white pizzas contain a greater amount of cheese and include more calorie dense sauces compared to the traditional tomato sauce. If you are allergic to tomatoes and must eat white pizzas ask for a reduced portion of the sauce.
6. Add veggies. Include as many vegetables as possible to the pizza (ie. peppers, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach). The veggies will provide additional vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fiber helps to keep you full for a longer period of time.
7. Choose whole wheat crust. Although whole wheat crust will not provide less calories, it will add extra fiber. In additional to satiety benefits, fiber helps to regulate your gastrointestinal system.
8. Limit your intake of pizza to only one to two slices. Portion control is key when eating healthy regardless of the food. Pizza can no longer be part of a healthy diet when excessive portions are consumed. This leads to the next tip…
9. Include a side salad or veggies with the pizza. Pizza should not be the sole food source of any meal. Add a side salad (sans cheese) or steamed veggies to help provide satiety at the meal. Eat the salad or veggie first to aid with portion control.
10. Try not to eat pizza alone. You are more likely to consume larger portions of pizza when you eat it alone. Sharing pizza is a perfect idea for a family night.