TASTE
11/01/2011 05:55 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How A Paper Towel Can Slash Calories, And Other Pizza Tips

According to the powers that be, October is National Pizza Month. But what does that actually mean? Well, pretty much nothing since Americans act like every month is national pizza month. In the United States, the delightfully doughy substance is a $30 billion industry, and each person in our proud country eats an average of 23 pounds of it a year. All this pizza grubbing is sort of alarming from a health standpoint, but there's no need to run screaming from one of life's biggest pleasures, either. By keeping a few tips in mind you can have your pizza and eat it, too.

Portion Control. Use it.

You know, eat one or two pieces instead of eight. The key to avoiding a pizza pig-out isn't sheer will power, but serving it with other filling foods like a crunchy salad or steamed veggies. Even a smallish dessert works. The goal is to create a meal filled with different flavors and textures so you feel satisfied before killing the entire delivery order.

Order Wisely

Go for thin crusts, or at least avoid crust stuffed with cheese. The difference can add up to over 100 calories a slice. But ...

Don't Believe Everything You Read

When it comes to nutrition facts, it helps to think of the given numbers as a rough guide rather than gospel. We noticed while perusing Pizza Hut's page that one slice of pepperoni thin-crust pizza is 200 calories. The same version with pepperoni and mushrooms? 180. Huh?

Soak Up That Extra Grease
Have you ever watched someone blot pizza with a paper towel or napkin before digging in? Did you snicker at their futile attempt at healthiness? Well, mopping up grease actually eliminates 4.5 grams of fat per slice. Not bad at all, especially if pizza is in your regular dinner rotation.

Make Your Own!
One of the best ways to mitigate the calories (and chemicals) in your food is always to make it yourself. When it comes to pizza, it helps to start with a healthy base, like this whole wheat pizza dough. Then, just employ a dash of common cooking sense: top the pizza with your favorite seasonal veggies and avoid greasy processed meat like ... you guessed it, pepperoni.

Healthy Pizza Recipes:

Garden Pizza
Polenta Pizza (Gluten-free!)
Bacon, Egg and Asparagus Pizza

What's your favorite type of pizza? Do you think you eat more or less of it than the average American? Tell us in the comments.

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