When you’re browsing a restaurant menu, it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish healthier dishes from fattening fare – and when you’re having international cuisine, translating the menu can add to the difficulty.

Between the fancy menu descriptions and cryptic restaurant speak, it’s often difficult to spot the potential calorie-bombs (for example, sneaky salads drenched in fattening dressing). Enjoying international cuisine can pose an added challenge if you aren’t familiar with traditional ingredients and preparations. Some things seem pretty obvious, like “con crema,” which means “covered with cream sauce,” but other terms can leave you in the dark. Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter what’s in a dish and how it’s prepared, but knowing the blatant red flags will also come in handy. Here’s a mini glossary of some of the biggest diet disasters.


  • Alfredo: prepared with butter, cream, and cheese
  • Parmigiana: breaded, fried, and smothered in cheese


  • Au gratin: covered with bread crumbs and (usually) cheese
  • Bearnaise: sauce made of butter and egg yolks


  • Ghee: clarified butter
  • Korma: made with cream, nut and seed pastes, or coconut milk
  • Paneer: a type of cheese


  • Tempura: deep-fried
  • Katsu: fried (e.g., tonkatsu, a breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet)


Looking for ethnic cuisine you can whip up at home? Try my Tofu-Cauliflower Curry or Orange-Pepper Beef Stir-fry.