The Silly Nutrition Undergrad

Lighten Up Your Pizza Dinner

Posted on: October 23, 2009


Photo by Sebastian Mary

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

A slice of deep-pan pizza loaded with cheese and topped with your favourite toppings is heavenly! Yet, knowing that a single slice from a large 14″ pizza will contain about 300 calories or more, and is high in fat and sodium, we tend to tell ourselves that it is forbidden food and so we can only enjoy a tiny slice with guilt. But, as long as we take action to make the rest of the meal more healthy, we can indulge in pizza and get the full pleasure minus the guilt.

Here are simple steps that I do to lighten up pizza dinners:

Choose thin crust.

A deep-pan slice can have up to 3x as much calories as a thin crust equivalent. So, If you choose to have a slice from  a thin-crust pizza, you’ll be saving yourself some calories (and stomach space) to enjoy other foods on the dinner table (and perhaps, dessert too if it’s a special day).

Less cheese! (or choose reduced-fat cheese)

Cheese is an absolute essential part of a pizza! Thus, to truly enjoy and savour a slice of pizza, you have to have cheese on it. However, to lighten up the caloric intake, you can choose to have less cheese or use reduced-fat cheese to cut calories. If you’re ordering pizza, ask them to go light on cheese or ask if they offer reduced-fat cheese. If you make your own pizza at home, try substituting reduced-fat cheese – it melts well and it still has lots of flavour (warning: never use fat-free cheese…it honestly taste like rubber!)

Load up on Veggies.

When you chose to indulge in a high-calorie and high-fat food like pizza, you know you’ve got to give up something else. So let’s cut out the high-calorie mashed potatoes and swap in some nutrient-dense and low-calorie vegetables to help you make the meal slightly more healthy.

Good options include roasted peppers, steamed broccoli or mashed cauliflower (you can disguise it as mashed potatoes – here’s a simple recipe ).

Hold the dip!

Before you dip your pizza crust into the creamy dip, ask yourself do you really want dip the high-fat, high-calorie pizza crust into another high-fat, high-calorie creamy sauce— If eating the crust is your favourite part of the meal, then allow yourself to indulge in a few bites to satisfy your craving, but don’t let yourself pig out! Or, how about try switching your creamy dip for a lighter version one to save some extra calories.


Do you always order a large because it seems like a better deal— Think again. Ordering a large pizza will often tempt you into eating more than you want since you see a lot of food in front of you which naturally provokes you to eat more, and so you end up overeating beyond satisfaction. Ordering more than enough will also mean that you get leftover pizza for the next day which may hinder your ability to choose healthy foods for the next few meals because you keep thinking you have to finish pizza and you keep seeing it every time you open your fridge!

Personally, when I know I’m going to have pizza for dinner, I often eat light and healthy on the other 2 meals because I want to balance it out — 2 healthier meals for one not-so-healthy dinner.

Seriously calorie-conscious and yet, craving pizza? Here’s a lighter, healthier pizza from Ellie Krieger on Food Network. Making your own pizza gives you total control of what to put on it and how much to put on it. You can tweak it to your likings! Plus, it will be super fresh and you will get to enjoy it directly hot from oven (no need to wait for delivery or drive out to pick it up!).

What strategies do you use to prevent caloric overload at pizza dinners?


2 Responses to "Lighten Up Your Pizza Dinner"

Nice tips!

I also like to emphasize skipping the guilt altogether. Food is not a moral issue–and guilting yourself isn’t making you any healthier. Enjoy your favorite pizza in moderation, guilt free.

You’re absolutely right! Enjoying food should not be attached to negative emotions; it is not constructive at all and definitely does not make you healthier.

Thanks for the comment!

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