Most traditional Italian restaurant food is generally pretty heavy. Yes, you can always find great foods that don’t involve pizza and pasta, but let’s face it, the P & P are a big draw for most.  Regardless of how healthy you try to eat, many restaurant dishes and appetizers hover between 800 and 1100 calories, including eggplant parmesana, lasagna, linguini in clam sauce, fried calamari, spaghetti with meatballs and even some restaurant paninis.

In most of these dishes, the calories really start to rack up when a) pasta and bread are involved or b) oil is needed to pan fry.

A decadent meal at an Italian restaurant for the evening can easily set you back 1500 calories.  Most of the calories start creeping up as soon as you sit down at the table. My advice:

  • Avoid the bread basket
  • Forgo dessert
  • Halve your dinnerimmediately. I’m not suggesting you ask for the doggie bag as soon as your dish arrives, but divide your dish in two. Don’t touch one half and take it home.
  • If you don’t think you’ll be able to divide and stick to it, order a bowl of soup and side salad.
Eating healthy and smart in Italian restaurants is possible! Here’s an example of how you can do it:
Instead of ThisEat This
1 Slice of Bread + 1 tbsp Olive Oil = ~280 calories

1 Glass of Wine or Soda = ~140 calories

1 Svg Fried Calamari (3 oz.)= ~300 calories

2 Cups Linguini in Clam Sauce =  ~740 calories

1  Nonfat Cappucino = ~75 calories


1 Glass of Water = 0 Calories

1 Glass of Wine = ~140 Calories

1 Side Salad (no cheese/drsg on side) = 75 Calories

½ Order Chicken Vesuvio = 300 Calories

1 Decaffeinated Coffee w/ Milk = 20 Calories


Here are a few items found on most traditional Italian menus that can be healthy, filling and enjoyable:

When eating Italian right for your body type, the right combination is part eating the right type of foods, and part eating the right portions. Some body types do better with larger servings throughout the day, and some do better with smaller servings. Before I get to the nitty gritty of what to eat and what to avoid, here is a body type breakdown:

If eating Italian for dinner, it should be no bigger than your breakfast or lunch. Try to avoid refined carbs, like pizza and pasta as those type of foods tend to turn your metabolism off.

If eating Italian for Dinner, this should be your largest meal of the day. That said, it’s not a free pass to eat a pound and a half of pasta covered with meat and cheese. Remember, steer clear of cheese and red meat.

An excess of sodium and cheese really turn your metabolism off. On any dish, go easy on the cheese or request to go without. If it’s a particularly salty dish, including anything that involves anchovies, capers or olives – avoid it. That said, if it’s dinnertime, this is your largest meal of the day, so choose wisely and enjoy it!

Your meal of the day is early, so if eating Italian for dinner, tread lightly. Stick with a soup and side salad, a small portion of lean protein (fish, chicken, lean beef) and some vegetables. Nutrition is really important and pasta and pizza give you very little, so don’t waste it on empty calories.

  • Chopped Antipasto Salad (easy on the cheese, dressing on the side) (BABYFACE/PEAR)
  • Minestrone Soup + Salad (PEAR/BABYFACE)
  • Grilled Chicken Spiendini (hold the pasta, request extra vegetable) (ANY)
  • Grilled Chicken Parmesan (ANY)
  • Grilled Chicken Milanese (request that the dish be grilled as it’s usually breaded & fried) (ANY)
  • Grilled Calamari (APPLE/BABYFACE/ATHLETE)
  • Chicken Marsala or Vesuvio (easy on the potatoes) (ANY)
  • Italian Wedding Soup (APPLE/BABYFACE)
  • Caprese Salad (APPLE/BABYFACE)
  • Any fish dish, provided it isn’t breaded or served with pasta (ANY)

If you’re not already hanging out with me on Facebook, now’s the time. I’ll be posting some really great recipes and workout tips over the next few weeks, and I don’t want you to miss out. See you there. Traci


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