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By Thea Theresa English

Ways to eat healthy at an Italian restaurant

Italian restaurants offer a variety of delicious options and sometimes the portions are bigger than one would like. But if you plan ahead, you can eat healthy at your favorite Italian restaurants. One option would be to skip the pasta but if you must have it, look for pasta dishes that do not have heavy cream or tomato sauces in them. It is also a good idea to focus on chicken, fish and vegetable dishes because these are healthy options.

Steer clear of breaded foods

Italian restaurants often have breaded meats and vegetables but if you are cutting back on carbohydrates, skip these items. Instead, you should order grilled or roasted vegetables and meats and have a few tasty marinades to have on the side.

Order soups

Soups are another way to eat healthy at an Italian restaurant. Minestrone is a classic hearty soup that contains beans, tomatoes, onions and carrots with a tomato sauce base. This soup is also filling and you can share a big bowl of it with other guests. You can eat the soup with salad instead of breadsticks.

Pizzas with vegetable toppings

Another idea is to order a pizza on whole grain crust with vegetable toppings. You can also have the pizza without the extra cheeses since those contribute to excess calorie consumption. Pizzas without cheese actually taste delicious. To curb your pizza intake, split it with your friends.

Watch out for the dessert

Rich desserts such as tiramisu and cream-filled cakes are popular at Italian restaurants but they are not the healthiest. When getting dessert, pick fruit dishes such as fruit custards or fruit salads. Roasted fruits with yogurt or sour cream also work for dieters at Italian restaurants.

Wines contain empty calories

Just like soft drinks, wines contain empty calories so be careful how much you consume while dining. You can have one or two glasses of wine and drink water or tea for the rest of the meal. Coffee drinks without the cream are also a nice alternative to wine.

Order just the appetizers

Sometimes the appetizers are just as filling as the entrees, depending on the restaurant, so in these cases you can order only the appetizers. The appetizers might range from vegetables with dip to mini meatballs with marinara sauce.

Order meat dishes only

Those who are on a low-carb diet can order the meat dishes alone. Just look for the leaner meats such as chicken, turkey and lean cuts of pork. Do not order the bigger portioned versions of meat dishes.

Grab a to-go bag

If the meals are so huge that you cannot finish it all, ask the waitress for a to-go bag. By doing this you are not overeating and you will have enough food to eat for lunch the next day. You can enjoy Italian food without consuming too many calories in one night. The key is to be sensible and enjoy yourself in the process.

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