Healthy Dining Finder - Ask the Dietitians - What Are the Best Choices for Dining with Diabetes at Olive Garden?
 



Ask the Dietitians
Registered Dietitians Answer Your Questions about Restaurant Nutrition

What Are the Best Choices for Dining with Diabetes at Olive Garden?


Diabetes-friendly choices at Olive Garden and how to order a diabetes-friendly meal at Italian restaurants.
Healthy Food

Join the Healthy Dining Club!
Get the Latest News, Coupons, Recipes & Special Offers
Q: What Are the Best Choices for Dining with Diabetes at Olive Garden?

A:
Nutritional needs vary for each person with diabetes depending upon calorie needs, medications, other health issues, and diabetes management goals. The American Diabetes Association recommends that each person with diabetes should receive individualized nutritional therapy, preferably provided by a registered dietitian, as an effective component of the overall treatment plan. The association also states that a variety of eating patterns are acceptable for the management of diabetes.

Guidelines issued by the American Diabetes Association note that there is no conclusive evidence of an ideal amount of carbohydrate intake for people with diabetes. However, monitoring carbohydrate intake remains a key strategy in achieving glycemic control.

Some general guidelines for selecting meals that are best for diabetes management include:
  • For good health, carbohydrate intake from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and low fat dairy products is advised over intake from other carbohydrate sources, especially those that contain added fats, sugars, or sodium.
  • Select whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and legumes to increase your fiber intake.
  • Select lean proteins and low-fat or non-fat dairy to reduce saturated fat.
  • Reduce sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. Further sodium reduction should be individualized for people with both diabetes and hypertension.
  • The “Create Your Plate” concept is one strategy that is recommended to manage portion size and eat a balanced diet.
    • Divide your plate into 4 equal sections.
    • Put “Lean Protein” such as chicken, fish, lean meat, eggs, or tofu in one section.
    • Put “Starchy” foods like potatoes, rice, pasta, corn or legumes in one section.
    • Fill two sections with “Non-Starchy Vegetables” like salad greens, spinach, broccoli.
    • Keep in mind that Bread and other Grains, Fruit, Milk, and Yogurt are also Carbohydrate choices.
When dining at an Italian-themed restaurant, such as Olive Garden, keep in mind these suggestions when selecting menu items.
  • Select meals which include lean protein (i.e., chicken, fish, lean meat) rather than a pasta entrée).
  • Select pasta as a side dish instead of an entrée.
  • Request whole grain pasta (such as whole wheat) instead of refined white pasta.
  • If a pasta entrée is selected, place at least half of it in a “to-go” container as soon as your meal is served. Enjoy it at another meal! Add some lean protein, a tossed salad and non-starchy vegetables to complete your meal.
  • Many meals are large portions, so consider splitting the meal with a friend or taking half of the meal home for another meal later.
  • Enjoy the mixed green salad served with the meal. Request that oil & vinegar dressing be served on the side so that you can mix in only a small amount to reduce calories. Italian dressing and other salad dressings generally are high in sodium and calories. Or, request vinegar or lemon juice to add flavor to your salad without adding sodium or calories!
  • When given the choice between adding soup or tossed salad to your meal, it is best to select the salad (with dressing on the side) rather than soup. Many soups provide an additional carbohydrate source to your meal as well as a significant amount of sodium.
  • Request non-starchy vegetables (such as broccoli, Italian squash, or spinach) as a side dish. Request that these items be prepared without sauce or butter to limit calories, saturated fat, and/or sodium.
  • Keep in mind that many restaurant dishes are high in sodium. Adjust your sodium intake for the rest of the day to try to stay below 2,300 mg sodium per day.

Following are some of the best choices for dining out at Olive Garden which are featured on HealthyDiningFinder.com:
  • Lighter Italian Fare: Garlic Rosemary Chicken (lunch) 29 gm carb
    • Served with garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes and spinach.
    • Add a salad for 10-13 gm carb. Request oil & vinegar dressing on the side.
  • Lighter Italian Fare: Citrus Chicken Sorrento (lunch) 35 gm carb
    • Served with lightly seasoned vegetables and artichokes.
    • Add a salad for 10-13 gm carb. Request oil & vinegar dressing on the side.
  • Lighter Italian Fare: Herb Grilled Salmon (lunch & dinner) 8 gm carb
    • Served with parmesan-garlic broccoli.
    • Add garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes if additional carb is needed.
    • Add a salad for 10-13 gm carb. Request oil & vinegar dressing on the side.
  • Lighter Italian Fare: Garlic Rosemary Chicken (dinner) 29 gm carb
    • Served with garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes and fresh spinach.
    • Add a salad for 10-13 gm carb. Request oil & vinegar dressing on the side.
  • Lighter Italian Fare: Citrus Chicken Sorrento (dinner) 36 gm carb
    • Served with lightly seasoned vegetables and artichokes.
    • Add a salad for 10-13 gm carb. Request oil & vinegar dressing on the side.
  • Lighter Italian Fare: Baked Tilapia with Shrimp (dinner) 12 gm carb
    • Served with parmesan-garlic broccoli.
    • Add garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes or a half serving of whole wheat linguine if additional carb is needed.
    • Add a salad for 10-13 gm carb. Request oil & vinegar dressing on the side.

Other choices at Olive Garden:
  • Tuscan Duo:
    • Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Mini Pasta Bowl (40 gm carb)
      • Request whole wheat pasta.
      • Served with tossed salad (10-13 gm carb). Request oil & vinegar dressing on the side.
  • Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad (11 gm carb)
  • Tuscan Sirloin (11 oz) (19 gm carb)
    • Served with garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes.
    • Request no seasoning on the steak to reduce the sodium value, share half of the steak with a friend or take half of the steak home for another meal.
    • Add a serving of steamed, non-starchy vegetables (no sauce)
    • Add a salad for 10-13 gm carb. Request oil & vinegar dressing on the side.
  • Mediterranean Flatbread (46 gm carb)
  • Lighter Italian Fare: Herb Grilled Salmon (dinner) (8 gm carb)
    • Served with parmesan-garlic broccoli.
    • Add a salad for 10-13 gm carb. Request oil & vinegar dressing on the side.
    • Add a HALF serving of whole wheat linguine (41gm carb) with a HALF serving of basil garlic marinara if additional carb is needed.
  • Dinner Cucina Mia:
    • Grilled Chicken (0 gm carb)
    • HALF serving Primavera Sauce (Gluten Free) (19 gm carb)
    • HALF serving Whole Wheat Linguine (41 gm carb)
&nbsb;

 
 
 
 
 
 
Ask the RD

Registered Dietitians Answer Your Questions about Restaurant Nutrition

More From Healthy Dining Finder
Join The Healthy Dining Club!
Get the Latest News, Coupons, Recipes & Special Offers

 :
 :
 
Cut Calories

20 Ways at Italian Restaurants

Here are some ways you can cut your calories the next time you eat Italian.
Read More

For over five decades, Ponderosa Steakhouse has been serving guests wholesome, delicious meals in a relaxed, come-as-you-are environment.

It's Free!
Get the Latest News, Coupons, Recipes & Special Offers