Italian dining has a bit of a reputation as being nothing but pasta, pasta and more pasta (with a bit of pizza for luck), loaded with rich sauces and olive-oil based dressings so if you are trying to lose pregnancy weight or following a weight loss plan it can often spell DISASTER.
However, if you look a little bit further down the menu, you’ll find plenty of healthy food choices that are delicious, will help your weight loss plan but still distinctly Italian in flavour. You might also be surprised to find that some of your favourite Italian foods are actually not as bad for you as you might originally have thought.

What to eat and what to avoid when you eat out at an Italian restaurant.
  • Italians love salad – they have it as a starter and often, if the weather is particularly warm, as a main course. You’ll find salad on the ‘insalata’ section of the menu, and most salads here are a good choice. Try to choose something without a fatty dressing and ask for the dressing to be on the side – most Italian restaurants will provide oil and vinegar on the table so that you can dress your salad yourself. Steer clear of mozzarella, basil and tomato salad as the mozzarella is very high in fat – if you want it, ask if they have low-fat or skim mozzarella instead.
  • Mixed steamed seafood platters are also common in many Italian restaurants, as are antipasti platters (mixed meat) platters which would be a good choice for low-carb eaters. Beware that some of the meats on an antipasti platter, such as salami and mortadella are quite fatty – but other meats, such as prosciutto and bresaola are low in fat but high in flavour. Ask if you are unsure which meat is which.
  • One particularly wonderful main course is steak – you’ll find variations of steak in all sorts of sauces and with all sorts of toppings, and the bonus is that they are never usually served with anything on the side. My particular favourite is steak with rocket leaves, balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese shavings – just 20g of parmesan lends enough flavour with little fat or calories.
  • You can also enjoy pasta and pizza in an Italian restaurant. Just be sure to choose pasta with a tomato based sauce, not a cream or egg based sauce, or if you’re having stuffed pasta ask for it with no sauce or a thin dressing made with chicken stock. If you fancy pizza, try a plain pizza base cooked with salt and rosemary, or ask for your regular pizza with no cheese and parmesan on the side – that way, you can add the cheese the pizza yourself.
  • Always ask for fries or chips to be served on the side, and if the option is there ask for a portion of grilled mixed vegetables on the side in place of chips or fries. Italian mixed vegetables are particularly delicious and flavourful – think peppers, courgettes, red onion and cherry tomatoes. Most restaurants will also be happy to serve food according to your requirements – just ask!
  • Unfortunately, many Italian desserts are cream or mascarpone based, which are not great ingredients for someone following a weight loss plan. However, Italian restaurants also often serve a number of fruit-based desserts, which may be a better choice – just make sure that they don’t come with cream or ice-cream on the side.

Finally, steer clear of the Prosecco! Wine is chock-full of calories – if you want some fizz, ask for sparkling mineral water instead or choose a diet drink. If you want to have the taste of a cocktail without all the calories, ask for a ‘virgin’ cocktail – they’ll make the same drink for you, just without the alcohol and the excessive calories.
To see what to eat when you are at a Japanese restaurant click here
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