Making healthy choices when eating out at restaurants can be tough, and a menu filled with heavy pastas and fat-filled sauces can make Italian restaurants feel impossible. The big portions and comforting flavor of Italian food make it hard not to love, but the biggest problem comes with all the calories, fats, and giant amounts of carbohydrates!
Going out for Italian food can either be a great choice or a disastrous one, depending on your will power, and the choices you make. The key to not sabotaging your healthy eating is to know the healthiest options and to plan ahead.
My biggest tip before any big dinner is to make sure you eat a healthy meal 1-2 hours before, so you don’t show up starving. Snacking before you eat out will prevent you from feeling overly hungry and reduce the temptation to overeat at dinner.
Here are a few of my FittChick “approved” options…
1. one cup of minestrone
2. one cup of pasta fagioli
3. a garden salad: skip the croutons, but add extra veggies
4. grilled calamari
5. shrimp cocktail: minus the cocktail sauce
6. grilled fish, chicken or meat
7. steamed, grilled, or roasted vegetables
8. a bowl of meat sauce or bolognese with a side of veggies.
9. a skim cappuccino while your friends enjoy dessert
Foods to avoid…
1. fried calamari (1,040 calories/70 grams of fat)
2. garlic bread (820 calories/40 grams of fat)
3. Antipasto (630 calories/47 grams of fat)
4. Spaghetti with meat sauce (920 calories/25 grams of fat)
5. Pasta with sausage (1,040 calories/39 grams of fat)
6. Veal Parmigiana with side of pasta (1,060 cals/44g fat)
7. Eggplant Parm with a side of pasta (1,210 cals/62g fat)
8. Lasagna (960 calories/53 grams of fat)
1. Order a garden salad to eat while appetizers are being served. My favorite salad at an Italian restaurant is a cucumber, tomato, onion chopped salad. Use balsamic vinegar as a salad dressing, and sprinkle fresh parmesan cheese on top.
2. Definitely skip the bread basket. (That’s hopefully an obvious one if your trying to be healthy)
3. Order any chicken or fish grilled with no sauce, butter, or oil. Ask for some marinara on the side, that way you are in control of the sauce you use, and sprinkle fresh parmesan on top!
4. Order a side of steamed or roasted veggies. You can use the marinara and parmesan for the veggies also!
5. Enjoy every bite:)
If you can make a few minor adjustments, you will leave knowing you had a great meal without sacrificing your healthy lifestyle. If you keep these guidelines in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy an Italian restaurant and still eat healthy. Remember you are the paying customer and shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask for modifications! Most restaurants are happy to make any changes that will encourage you to come back a second time. Remember, YOU have control over what goes in your mouth. Healthy Italian food is well within your reach if you just make the right choices!
Eat Yourself Skinny!
~If you want to make healthy Italian food at home, check out my homemade Easy Meat Sauce and Sauteed Spinach in TheFittChick recipe eBook!