While traveling in Thailand, you will notice that everyone wants to know if you have eaten. Before even greeting you with a ‘hello,’ people will ask you some variation of "gin khao reu yang?" meaning, ‘have you eaten yet?’
To be fair, there are so many enticing dishes and food vendors on every street that it is hard not to catch yourself snacking on something at any given moment. For this reason, it is also extremely difficult to keep the pounds off! There are, however, many healthy Thai dishes you can eat without regretting a single morsel. Here are the 10 healthiest Thai dishes.
Som tam (papaya salad)
Consisting of almost all vegetables and sometimes crab or dried shrimp, this is a perfect dish to eat if you are a devoted healthy eater. That being said, palm or brown sugar is added to this salad, along with a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce, which can be very high in sodium. If you want to exclude the sugar and eat this dish as spicy as it can be, tell the vendor or restaurant, mai waan (not sweet).
Yum ma-muang (green mango salad)
Much like its sister dish, papaya salad, green mango salad does not have a lot working against it when it comes to being healthy. Carrots, green mango and fresh lime juice are all added to this dish. If you want to make it even healthier, ask to omit the white or palm sugar. Otherwise, devour this meal guilt free.
Yum talay (seafood salad)
This mixed seafood salad is not only delicious, but also really good for you. It essentially is what it sounds like: a salad consisting of almost entirely seafood, except for some tomatoes and onions. Depending on where you go, yum talay can have any combination of squid, shrimp, mussels, scallops or crab meat in it.
Tom yum goong (hot and sour soup with shrimp)
Be careful when ordering this soup, because there are a few variations of it, with some being significantly less healthy than others. This hot and sour soup can be served creamy, made with a significant amount of coconut milk and sugar. That being said, shrimp is a low-fat, high-protein substitute for meat, so don’t feel too guilty.
Kaeng liang (vegetable soup thai style)
Either water or chicken stock can be used in the making of this soup. Vegetables usually include baby corn, pumpkin, mushrooms and more, but this could differ greatly depending on where you order it. Regardless, vegetables are vegetables: the more, the merrier. The least healthy ingredient added to this soup is fish or soy sauce. Otherwise, this is one of the healthiest dishes in Thailand.
Pad pak (fried vegetables)
Broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, you never know what vegetables you are going to get in your pad pak. Some restaurants and vendors add soy sauce and palm sugar. If you want these ingredients omitted, simply point at them and say, mai ao (literally: ‘I don’t want’). Most food stalls will have all the ingredients in plain sight, making it simple to point out what you do and do not want.
Pad pak bung fai daeng (stir-fried morning glory)
While morning glory (otherwise known as water spinach) does lose some of its nutrients when cooked, this salad is still one of the healthier Thai dishes you can order. Be careful, however, as pad pak bung fai daeng is high in sodium as it is cooked with oyster sauce.
Khao man gai (chicken and rice)
This dish has plenty of protein and carbohydrates. Plus, it’s a relatively cheap dish to order at a restaurant, so you are filling up at good price. It is usually served with a spicy dipping sauce.
Gai pad med mamuang (chicken with cashew nuts)
This dish may be fried, but it one of the healthiest meals found in Thailand, packed with cashew nuts, onions and baby corn. Cashew nuts may be high in fat, but they are incredibly good for you, filled with both vitamins and minerals, so you can chow down without worrying. Opting to order this dish without its usual side of rice will make it even healthier.
Thailand is famous for its rare fruits, which are a product of its unique climate. Grab a bag of fruit from any street cart for ฿40 (a little over $1/£0.70) or less. Dragon fruits, guavas, rose apples and pomelos are just some of the options available!