Eating Italian food doesnâ€™t have to ruin your diet. In fact, Italian food is a type of Mediterranean cuisine and considered quite healthy when traditionally prepared, due to the abundance of monounsaturated fatty acids found in the main ingredients. Focusing on fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and small portions, you can order low calorie Italian food.
Typical pasta dishes, like lasagna, can leave you with an enormous amount of carbohydrate-rich noodles, cheese and tomato sauce, and one large calorie count. The portion sizes tend to be much larger in American-based Italian restaurants than in the home country, so you have to order wisely. Here are three diet-friendly tips to get you through the ordering process:
Avoid the garlic bread and rolls.
Avoid fried calamari and eggplant, choose grilled if they serve it.
Avoid the cheesy dishes, such as mushrooms stuffed with cheese and fried cheese sticks. Order a garden salad and opt for a light dressing on the side.
Main Dishes and Sides
Order seafood, vegetarian, chicken or beef to be sure you are not consuming pasta alone.
Avoid dishes that are fried, heavily sautÃ©ed, au gratin, coated, basted, or stuffed. Order steamed, broiled, baked, or poached.
Order half portions, split with a friend, or take home half for lunch tomorrow.
Order dishes made with olive oil instead of butter, and request the kitchen be light with the oil.
Avoid cream sauces, and choose olive oil or tomato sauce pastas.
Avoid the excessive cheese and ask for some grated Parmesan on the side.
Drinks and Desserts
Much like the portions of food, glasses of wine in Italy are much smaller than the typical American serving. One 4 oz. glass white wine has 80 calories, while red has 85 calories. Water is always a safe bet, or some refreshing sparkling water. For dessert, pass on the tiramisu and ladyfingers and ask for fresh berries or fruit ice, if it’s available.
Italians enjoy diet-friendly meals rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil, tomatoes, whole grains, dairy, and a small amount of red meat. The goal when dining in an Italian restaurant is to stick to a salad and your entrÃ©e, and keep the portions small. Bon appÃ©tit!