Dining Out Guide: Healthy Italian

Here is a handy guide to making the best choices the next time you find yourself at an Italian restaurant. Note that I’ve suggested the best “type” of order - Stealth, Hungry and Lean - to help you choose no matter what your hunger level or social situation:

Stealth Order - This is a diet-friendly choice for those times – business entertaining, meeting new people – when you don’t want to call attention to yourself and make a fuss about eating clean.  

Hungry Order - This is a good choice for the volume eater: the person who likes/needs a lot of food to feel full, is a fast eater or may just simply be having a hungry day.  This is a good choice for those who have 20 pounds or more to lose.

Lean Order - This is the lowest calorie, cleanest choice and it’s good for those who want to power through on their goals, are on the final stretch and have just a couple more pounds to go or those who are struggling with a plateau.  It’s also good for a night when you are with your best friend or your spouse and you want to eat really clean.  This is a good choice for those with only 5 to 10 pounds to lose.    

ITALIAN Food Tips:

  • Appetizer: Any version of a salad w/ shaved parm or pecorino.  Minestrone soup if not salt sensitive.  Look for protein apps like tuna tartare, grilled octopus or prosciutto/melon
  • Entrée: choose shrimp marinara (sauce is the carb), chicken scarpariello (sauce is the carb) or grilled fish (or another protein grilled) of the day plus a side order of any green vegetable (steamed if possible). You can also always have a veal or chicken Milanese (and ask for it w/out breading). Steak tagliata—grilled skirt steak, lean cut, good for those w/ 30 plus to lose.
  • Devil (bad): cream sauces, anything “alfredo”, pasta dishes. Watch the eggplant parm, this veggie is known for soaking up the oil!

Stealth Order: starter salad and shrimp marinara, chicken scarpariello or steak tagliata (just skip the potatoes)—if any entrée comes w/pasta don’t have them remove it, just skip it.

Hungry Order: start w/ salad (or grilled octopus or tuna tartar) or even insalata caprese (30 plus to lose) and have the veal or chicken Milanese w/out the breading plus side green veggie

Lean Order: 2 apps—go for arugula salad plus grilled calamari or another lean protein appetizer and side veggie.  Alternatively, choose any simple, grilled fish as entrée.
Heather Bauer, RD CDN
Heather Bauer, RD CDN


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