Let’s Go Out For… Pizza

What To Know     What To Eat

What To Know

In its melty, crusty glory, pizza satisfies many cravings. So it’s no surprise that one in eight of us eats it on any given day, according to new USDA data. But few people stop at just one slice: The average pizza meal consists of 744 calories (about two to three pieces) — eating up about 37 percent of the average woman’s daily energy need in one sitting. Turn your slice into a nutritious meal with these tips.

The Slice is Right

Going out for a specialty pie? Use this guide for smart ordering.

New York-Style

New Yorkers do everything big. Pizza is no exception: Typical NYC-style slices are cut from an extra-large 18-inch pie, making a slice the equivalent of two-plus regular ones. (14 to 16 SmartPoints value)

Nicer slice: Provide your brain with a visual cue more satisfying than a slice: Cut a piece into threes. Then eat slowly and savor. Or split a slice and a salad with a pal.


A deep-dish pie can tower up to 3 inches high, and the crust may be stuffed with cheese. It’s traditionally topped heavily with both cheese and meat. (11 to 15 SmartPoints value)

Nicer Slice: Order Chicago’s other signature pie, the thin crust. If you go deep dish, plan other meals of the day accordingly. Then request half the meat and choose a lean protein (such as ham) over pepperoni.


The same toppings that make gourmet pizza unique (bacon, potatoes, fried eggs, 17 different cheeses…) also drive up the calorie and saturated fat content (5 to 9 SmartPoints value).

Nicer Slice: Pass on cheese, creamy or pesto sauces; choose a slice with marinara. Order a veggie-centric specialty pie (like wild mushroom or squash), then boost flavor with herbs and skip the olive oil drizzle.

Don’t pay the price for ordering in — dig into these calorie-saving tips.

Phone it in. People tend to request double toppings and other high-calorie add-ons when ordering online versus dialing in or ordering in person. The online order results in a pizza with 3 percent more calories, a recent preliminary University of Toronto study found.

Don’t fall for the extras. Instead of buffalo wings or pasta, tack on a side of steamed veggies or a vegetable-only salad — greens will help keep you full. 

Decide based on hunger, not coupons. You’re only saving money if you don’t order more than you would without the coupon. Skip it if you’ll end up with free soda, breadsticks, dessert pizza or a larger pie that you wouldn’t normally request.

EXPERT: Heather Mangieri, MS, a Pittsburgh dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.