We’ve all been there: your friends invite you out to dinner at the amazing Italian restaurant you’ve just been dying to try. You’re torn because you’re trying to eat healthy and exercise portion control. Never fear--we’ve got you covered! Let’s walk through a 5 course meal at your typical Italian restaurant to see what food options will save both your social life and your mission of clean eating.


Order this: A glass of red wine Not that: A Martini Sorry, Sex and the City fans, but hard liquor like gin and vermouth in your signature martinis are higher in calories per glass than wine. Sip a glass of Malbec or Pinot Noir to look classy as hell and save yourself the empty calories.


Order this: Caprese Salad Not that: Bruschetta Caprese The minor difference between these two appetizers is the bread. Most Italian restaurants will bring you a bread basket so you end up with double the amount of bread on your table. Choose salad to avoid the unnecessary carbs!


Order this: Chicken Picatta minus the pasta Not that: Chicken Parmesan Choose the dishes that are not cream or cheese based and stick to the tomato or olive oil & garlic sauces. If you’re really craving pasta, ask the restaurant for their whole grain options or even see if they offer spaghetti squash.


Order this: Roasted Asparagus with Olive Oil Not that: Cheesy Risotto Risotto is loaded with both carbs and excessive cheese, which are big ‘no no’s’ when watching your waistline. Stick to the veggie option, sans dairy, for guilt-free eating.


Order this: Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar Not that: Tiramisu Tiramisu, probably the most well known Italian dessert, is dangerously appealing with ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese and creme--but bad when you’re trying to watch what you eat. Instead, treat your sweet tooth with the sweet but bitter strawberries and balsamic vinegar combo or opt for any fresh fruit dessert option.