So many of us have a love/hate relationship with pasta, especially when we’re trying to lose weight, but is pasta really off limits?
“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” Sophia Loren
We’ve been told for years to avoid carbs and to cut out pasta, and we say it’s time to start enjoying this Italian classic again… without the guilt!
Like so many other foods, it’s all about how you order pasta. This food can be a great choice, even when weight loss is your goal. Follow these simple tips, and you’re sure to end up with pasta that’s loaded with flavor and nutrition:
- Go Whole Grain: Whenever possible, opt for whole grain versions of your favorite pastas. These higher fiber choices can help support your weight loss goals by keeping you fuller longer and have been linked to decreased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- Think MyPlate: Aim for a balance of vegetables and lean protein along with your (ideally whole-grain) carbohydrates. Bulking up the meal with these nutrient-dense foods allows you to downsize the pasta portion and create a more nourishing and satisfying meal.
- Add veggies: An easy way to load up on these generally lower calorie and higher fiber foods is to pair your pasta with a salad. By starting your meal with a first course of leafy greens, you’re guaranteed to get in the good stuff before you start to fill up on higher calorie pasta. But don’t stop there – look for pasta entrées that include vegetables, too!
- Don’t forget protein: For lean protein, look for menu items featuring chicken, shrimp, or other tasty seafood. Including lean protein with your meal will help support your weight loss goals. As much as we love meatballs, the calories and saturated fat can vary widely, depending on the type of ground meat, which other ingredients are mixed in, and the cooking method. Be sure to double check nutrition information before you order them.
- Sauce it up: When it comes to sauce, we all know that Alfredo isn’t health food, but don’t forget about the butter and cream often added to other sauces, like marsala, carbonara, picatta and vodka. Classic marinara is generally considered the best option, but if you’re looking for something more exciting, go for one of these specialty sauces:
- Arrabiata: Garlic and hot chili peppers make this red sauce perfect for those who like some spice!
- Puttanesca: Fragrant and flavorful, this sauce pairs tomatoes with olives, capers and garlic.
- Pesto: Although pesto is relatively high in fat, it’s “good fat” from nuts and olive oil, making this sauce rich in nutrients; just watch portion size if you’re watching calories.