How can I make healthier choices when eating at an Italian restaurant with high-fat options?

Italian cuisine is known for its rich and decadent flavors, often made with high-fat ingredients like cheese, cream, and butter. While indulging in these dishes can be satisfying, they may not always align with our health goals. However, with a few simple tips, you can still enjoy a delicious meal at an Italian restaurant while making healthier choices.

Start with a Salad or Soup
Starting your meal with a salad or soup is a great way to add more vegetables and fiber to your meal, helping you feel fuller and potentially reducing your overall calorie intake. Opt for a salad with lots of colorful vegetables and a vinaigrette dressing rather than a creamy one. For soup, choose a broth-based option rather than a cream-based soup.

Choose Tomato-Based Sauces
When it comes to pasta dishes, tomato-based sauces are typically lower in fat and calories than cream-based sauces like alfredo or carbonara. Tomato-based sauces also contain lycopene, an antioxidant that has been linked to a reduced risk of some types of cancer.

Go Light on Cheese
While cheese is a staple in many Italian dishes, it can also be high in saturated fat and calories. Ask your server to go light on the cheese, or request that your dish be made without cheese altogether. If you can’t imagine your meal without cheese, opt for a small amount of a flavorful cheese like parmesan rather than a heavier cheese like mozzarella.

Choose Grilled or Broiled Proteins
Italian restaurants often have a variety of protein options, from chicken to seafood to beef. Instead of choosing a dish that is breaded and fried, opt for grilled or broiled proteins. These cooking methods reduce the amount of added fat and calories while still providing a delicious flavor.

Share Your Dish
Italian restaurants are notorious for their large portion sizes. Consider sharing your dish with a friend or taking half of it home for later. Not only will this help you control your portion sizes, but you’ll also get to enjoy your favorite Italian dish again the next day.

Skip the Bread Basket
It can be tempting to indulge in the warm, fresh bread that often comes before a meal at an Italian restaurant, but these carbs can quickly add up. Consider skipping the bread basket altogether, or enjoy a small piece and ask your server to take the basket away.

In conclusion, making healthier choices at an Italian restaurant may seem challenging, but it’s certainly possible. By starting with a salad or soup, choosing tomato-based sauces, going light on cheese, choosing grilled or broiled proteins, sharing your dish, and skipping the bread basket, you can still enjoy a delicious meal while making choices that align with your health goals. Bon appétit!