Healthy Choices at Italian Restaurants | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Healthy Choices at Italian Restaurants

February 10, 2013 | Kait Fortunato

Must See Nutrition Videos

Coming from a big Italian family, I know how big a role food plays during the holidays and traditional family gatherings. There's something comforting about the essence and togetherness of Italian food. However, this comfort tends to be served with a side of cheese, sauce, and pasta—foods that don't allow for a healthy boost of energy.

Luckily, there are many healthy options at Italian restaurants that pair well with sauce and cheese. (See also An Authentic Italian Diet for Athletes.) Here are my tips for healthy Italian eating.

What to Start With

Some of my favorite Italian appetizers are muscles and scallops, which are full of protein and low in fat. Be mindful of fried calamari and mozzarella sticks, as they contain protein but are also breaded and fried. With any restaurant, try to have a snack prior to going out to eat so you are not tempted to fill up on appetizers and bread.

Aim for Healthy Greens


To lower saturated fat, choose the house salad with vegetables and vinaigrette dressing rather than the Caesar salad with creamy dressing. Another option is an antipasti salad, but be mindful of the sodium in certain meats.

Protein Over Pasta

Order a protein-based dish such as veal, chicken or seafood served with vegetables. A side of pasta is fine, but don't make it the main part of your dish. (Read about Plating Proper Portions.)

Smart Sauces


When considering sauces, beware of words like cream, butter, alfredo or white. They tend to be high in saturated fats. Choose red or tomato sauce instead.

Focus on Family

After all, this is one of the best parts about Italian eating. Take the focus off the food and savor the experience. Eat slowly and enjoy all your favorites, in modest portions without overdoing it.

Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Must See
Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 2,195,013
RGIII Talks About His Legacy
Views: 20,487,079
NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone
Views: 22,697,819

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: University of Kentucky Views: 297,020
Add Core Power for Basketball With Damian Lillard's Med Ball Throws Views: 4,255,927
Path to the Pros 2015: The Journey Begins Views: 28,363
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

The Case for Red Meat

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

The Boston Cannons'

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos