Healthy Food Choices in Italian Restaurants

Healthier Alternatives When Dining in Italian Restaurants

Considered as one of the most popular ethnic food among food lovers worldwide is Italian food, which can give your weight loss efforts a serious blow if you don't order wisely.


Most Italian restaurants serve pasta efagioli (pasta and bean soup), or a minestrone, which are healthy starters. Salads are fine, except for those greens topped with slices of provolone or Parmesan and cheese-laden Caesar. You can request your dressing on the side. A vegetable antipasto may appear to be a good choice, but the vegetables have ordinarily been marinated in oil, so settle for simple soups and salads.

A typical American Italian restaurant serves enough pasta for two people in just one entree, so why not split an entree? When you consider Italian food, you might want to skip the pasta and going straight to the "secondi" section, which is where you'll find the chicken, fish, and meats. You should be safe on whatever is cooked simply: a sauteed breast of chicken or veal cutlet, a roasted fish, even a grilled piece of pork tenderloin. What you should resist are those of the breaded and fried entrees, the dishes smothered in creamy sauces or cheese or the whopping T-bones or veal chops. Stir away from anything called "parmigiana." If you feel that the pasta is irresistible, get the simple version with tomato sauce (or red clam sauce) as a side dish. And let that choice be your starch, meaning, dispense with the bread. Or enjoy a piece of bread and forgo the pasta.

With regards to pizza, a small slice or two would probably not throw you off your program. However, three or four pieces will. If you plan on having pizza, cut back elsewhere during that day, especially on saturated fat because the pizza's cheese will send your saturated fat count through the roof.

When eating pizza, stick to the basics: thin crust with cheese and some veggies (but never eggplant) on top (extras like pepperoni and sausage can very well ratchet up the calories and saturated-fat count). When you often go to a pizzeria that makes pies to order, you can even request to cut the amount of cheese in half. What you must watch out for are the nutrition nightmares, like those pizzas having cheese on top and cheese-stuffed crust. There's also the good old Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. A deep-dish cheese slice can contain 480 calories or more, compared to a thin-crust cheese slice has about 280 calories.

Related reads:

Choosing Healthy Food in Chinese Restaurants

Healthy Food Choices at French Restaurants


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