If you are cooking at home or planning on taking your friends out to an Italian restaurant, you may be dreading ruining your hard-won weight loss and diet efforts. Keep in mind that WebMD.com says that it's okay to have splurge days every once in a while as long as your long-term calorie intake is still consistent throughout the week. However, if you still want to make some healthier choices, follow these tips.
Skip the Breadsticks and Opt for Soup and Water
You may be so focused on choosing a healthy entree, that you forget about the appetizers. Since many Italian restaurants serve bread and oil-and-cheese dip, this is an all-too-easy way to rack up unnecessary calories. Instead of breadsticks, opt for some soup and water.
An Italian minestrone is a good choice because its broth is a veggie base and because it usually contains lots of veggies: corn, carrots, tomatoes, chard, squash, etc. Avoid creamy soups like chowders and bisque since they have lots of carbs and fat. Along with your soup, be sure to fill up on some fresh water since shape.com says that it can boost your metabolism and fill you up faster so you will eat less.
Choose the Right Entrees
Pasta-heavy recipes like manicotti and spaghetti are chock-full of carbs and usually pounds of fatty cheese. However, if you still want a pasta dish, consider the fixings and sauces that go with it. For instance, a crabmeat ravioli with clam sauce would be a good alternative.
Some other relatively healthy options include Margherita pizza (with a thin crust, lightly sprinkled with mozzarella cheese, and lots of veggies) veal piccata, or a spring risotto with beans. These kinds of entrees have some carbs, but they also have a good amount of protein and are usually served with good veggies, like green beans.
Use the Right Dressings for Your Salad
Many Italian restaurants offer salad in addition to the entree. Like your soup options, you'll want to avoid creamy options, like chipotle, blue cheese or Caesar. Opt for an Italian vinaigrette, balsamic vinaigrette, or a mix of lemon and extra-virgin olive oil. If you are cooking at home, make sure that the dressing you use is organic or "regular," as some "light" dressings save on calories and fat, but are loaded with sodium and sugar.
Ask for Half of the Meal to Be Boxed Up
According to the NY Times, studies have shown that people generally eat more when they are presented with larger tableware. And since many restaurants entice patrons with more food for your buck and use larger plates for presentation, your healthy choices may turn unhealthy due to the large serving size. So, you could split a meal with a friend or ask half of the meal to be boxed up right away. That way, you won't be tempted to eat mindlessly and can enjoy some leftovers. Contact a business, such as Tony & Joe's Pizzeria, for more information on healthy choices.