Welcome to our second blog in this series of Weight Loss and Restaurants. As a reminder, every week we will focus on a different restaurant type, to make sure you have all the tips and facts for your optimal choices to achieve your weight loss plan.
In most cases, restaurants are happy to accommodate your dietary needs, all you have to do is have a meal plan and ask. This week we are focusing on Italian Cuisine.
If we look at the US as a whole, there are hundreds of thousands of Italian restaurants including mom and pop shops, chains, and fast food restaurants. With so many Italian restaurants at our finger tips, we want to provide you with all the tools you need to stay on track when it comes to your weight loss diet while visiting them.
Italian can be tricky to navigate when looking for a low calorie meal or when trying to lose weight, but definitely possible. Many restaurants start out with a bread or garlic bread basket. Much of the bread offered is white bread with lots of butter and oil. We recommend skipping this part of the meal. Make it easier on yourself and simply let your waiter or waitress know that you would like to pass on it.
Exploring the menu beyond carbohydrates.
Most of the items on the menu are mainly composed of carbohydrates, but there are other options as well. Try to stick with an entrée that is protein and vegetable based and includes a small carbohydrate side for Italian restaurants such as pasta. Good options include chicken breast, salmon and shrimp. Or you might also order a salad with a source of protein and a small side pasta.
Choosing the right sauce.
Many different Italian restaurants offer a variety of sauces to go over your pasta. A smart meal planning strategy in this area is to avoid white and butter sauces. These sauces are based on cream and fat and don’t have much to offer as far as nutrients go. Instead try to choose a tomato based sauce, or grilled vegetables and herb based sauces.
Searching for the right menu item.
Many restaurants today offer low calorie meals or mark certain items on the menu as being healthier choices. In fact, some might even have a separate menu altogether, or rotating low calorie specials. Consider ordering one of these items to help you stay on track with your weight loss diet.
Making it your own.
Every Italian restaurant I know of offers pizza on it’s menu. Keeping a few things in mind, ordering pizza is definitely an option even when on a weight loss diet. Let’s start with portion control. Consider ordering a pizza and a salad and sharing with someone in your party. Another option is asking your pizza to be split in two and have half boxed for another meal in the kitchen. The second thing to consider is the crust. If possible order whole wheat, thin crust. This is a good way to save on some extra calories as well as consume healthy nutrients and fiber. Third, try to choose a pizza that is loaded with vegetables instead of a more calorically dense topping such as pepperoni or extra cheeses.
As with all restaurants your best bet for beverage options is water. Restaurants tend to have large glasses and when filled with juice or soda can add hundreds of calories and sugar to your meal.
If you haven’t tried our App yet, or are not familiar with our restaurant menu selections check to find out exactly which healthier meals you could be ordering in Italian restaurants to help you in your weight loss process. Buon Appetitio and enjoy!