Need a little help surviving Italian restaurants? You're in luck. HG is here with all you need to know...
DOs and DON'Ts!
DO start your meal off with a house salad (light dressing on the side) or some minestrone soup. (Broth-based soup before a meal often means lower calorie-intake overall!) Be careful with salad entrées though! Some are worse than most regular meals, so watch out for red flags like oily croutons, creamy dressing, fatty meats, and lots of cheese.
DON'T be afraid to make special requests, just make sure you're super-nice when you do it. Swap fatty sides for veggies. Ask for whole-wheat pasta in place of regular -- many places (including Olive Garden) offer up the fiber-rich stuff as an alternative to plain white pasta, and it's better for you and more filling.
DO save some to take home. Most Italian eateries serve up crazy-huge portions -- so before you even start eating, get it into your head that you’re not going to consume that whole ginormous serving. Then eat slowly and savor your meal!
DON'T eat bread AND pasta at the same meal. In Italy, that's a no-no. (Clearly, they understand the dangers of carb overload.) If you choose bread, skip the butter. If you go for pasta, choose tomato-based (not creamy or cheesy) sauce, and keep the portion reasonable. And if you feel like being really good, avoid the bread and pasta altogether.
DO have a glass of wine, if you like (and if you're legal!), but control yourself. A small serving of 4 - 5 oz. has about 100 calories and a POINTS® value of 2*, but you should know that a typical glass often contains a few ounces more than that. So if an Italian dinner without vino seems wrong to you, go for that glass, just make it last. And be careful with sangria. A glass at Olive Garden has 220 - 250 calories (POINTS® value 4 - 5*). And we all know how one glass can lead to another... and another...
Clearly, anything in a carbonara sauce is NOT going to be light. But say you really want it. How bad could it be? Well, in addition to the crazy amount of calories coming from the pasta, there's the insane fat content of a sauce made with eggs, cheese, cream, and bacon. It would take too much time on the treadmill to justify this one. NEXT!
Romano's Macaroni Grill, Pinot Grigio Chicken PER SERVING (1 serving): 1,630 calories, 82g fat, 3,910mg sodium, 131g carbs, 10g fiber, 88g protein -- POINTS® value 39*
Macaroni Grill is notorious for having insanely high-cal meals. That place also serves up some stuff that sounds light and innocent yet is actually REALLY bad! Like this entrée. Chicken in a white wine sauce? Seems safe. Unfortunately, it's crusted with Parmesan, topped with mozzarella, and served up with a ginormous pile of pasta. Eeeks!
Appetizers: Steamed mussels, steamed clams
Entrées: Grilled, steamed or broiled chicken or seafood (in tomato sauce or with a squirt of lemon)
Sides: Steamed or grilled veggies, whole-wheat pasta (small serving)
Desserts: Sorbet, fresh berries, biscotti, coffee or espresso with no-calorie sweetener and skim milk
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*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints™ values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe, or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints™ trademark.
SmartPoints™ value not what you expected?Click here for more info on how the values are calculated, plus more FAQs about PointsPlus® and SmartPoints™ values on our website.
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