Pizza can be healthy too!

Pizza can be healthy too!

Photo: Shutterstock

When it comes to eating out or ordering in, pizza is a crowd-pleaser and a favorite with kids. It may be one of the few foods that even fussy eaters will wolf down every time. It’s also available no matter where you go in the world, a boon for traveling families. The bad news is that it is still junk food, right? Not necessarily. With moderation and proper choice of toppings pizza can be healthy too.

Pizza can be unhealthy because of an excess of three substances: calories, fat and sodium. Calories and fat may be obvious, but sodium is often overlooked. However, it is possible to have more than a day’s recommended amount of sodium from just two slices.

On the other hand, Norwegians consume the most pizza per person than any other country but have one of the lowest obesity rates in the world, so the food can’t be all that bad. It’s all about moderation and making good nutritional decisions. You can do this by following a few simple steps.

First, choose the toppings wisely. Load on the lean proteins and vegetables and cut back on the fat-laden meats and cheese. Meats with lower saturated-fat content will do your body more good. Look for chicken breast and limit bacon, sausage and other red meats, and the “meat lovers” options. Pepperoni has the highest amount of fat, calories and sodium. Remember to take advantage of the option to customise your pie to add in the good stuff and limit the bad.

Next, choose a thin crust. Too many carbohydrates can harm you and your children’s diet, and pizza is an all-too-easy way to fill up on bread. That way you’ll be eating more nutritious toppings per slice instead of the heavy base.

Balance the bad with good. If your children insist on a cheese pizza or pepperoni is a must, make it a condition that they also have to eat a slice of veggie pizza, or some salad, as well. The same goes for you!

As with all food, the key to a healthy diet is to eat in moderation. Don’t make going out or getting a takeaway pizza a regular occurrence but an occasional treat. When you do order, consider ordering a smaller size. In addition, eating slowly can help your kids realize when they are full and curb overeating. Remind them to chew.

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