If you love Italian food, here's good news! You don't have to say arriverdi as part of a healthier lifestyle.

But it may be a good idea to make some changes to the items you usually order. You can trim calories and fat while still enjoying a great meal. Try these tips for eating Italian the healthy way:

•          Skip over the bread dripping in garlic butter or dipped in olive oil.

•          Start your meal with a green salad or a healthy appetizer like marinated vegetables.

•          Choose pasta paired with low-fat sauces like marinara, primavera, red or white clam, mushroom, white wine, or tomato and basil.

•          Control pasta portions. Aim for a 1 1/2-cup serving. That's about the size of a normal fist.  Since many Italian restaurants serve about twice that amount, it may be a good idea to have half of your portion boxed up to go right away. You won't be tempted to overeat if there isn't too much food on your plate, and you will have leftovers to enjoy another time.

•          Be careful with pastas stuffed with cheese. Watch portions and choose a low-fat sauce like marinara.

•          Avoid creamy sauces like Alfredo — they're high in fat and calories

•          Watch out for risottos made with butter and cheese.

•          Cacciatore, scampi, and marsala dishes are good lower-fat choices --remember to watch the portion size and inquire about preparation.

•          When eating out, consider splitting an entrée with someone else. If you share one pasta dish and one lean protein dish with a companion, you can both have a balanced meal and enjoy a reasonable portion.

•          End the meal with fresh fruit or an espresso or cappuccino. If you'd like to order a richer dessert, share it with your companion.


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