As an employee of Olive Garden and a bodybuilder, I know how hard it can be to eat healthfully when you get a craving for breadsticks. Here are some ways I eat for my goals at the OG on a weekly basis while keeping things interesting.
1. Ask for dressing on the side
While 8g of fat per serving of dressing doesn’t seem like much, it adds up when you consider how much dressing really comes on your salad. Sometimes employees are heavy handed to satisfy your need for the good stuff. Ask for your dressing on the side or make your own dressing so you have complete control over your salad.
2. Fill up on salad and save the breadsticks for your meal
When they say “unlimited salad and breadsticks,” they mean it. Eat several servings of salad so you don’t overeat when your chicken alfredo arrives. You’ll have consumed some extra micronutrients and have leftovers for tomorrow. Not sure what’s up with tracking macro and micro-nutrients? We’ve got you covered.
Additionally, save your breadsticks until the main part of your meal. As delicious as those breadsticks are, they are empty carbs (buttery, garlicky, wonderful empty carbs). Eat them as a complement to your entree and not when you’re starving, and you’ll save calories by not eating seven(ty).
3. Choose whole wheat pasta
While Olive Garden’s whole wheat linguine isn’t low in carbs, it does have more fiber and more protein than all of the other pasta options. As a result, you’ll feel full faster and will have a more nutritious meal.
4. Make five cheese marinara your friend
With half of the calories and a third of the fat of Olive Garden’s traditional Alfredo sauce, five cheese marinara is the perfect combination of cheesy goodness and “this is tomato based based so it counts as a vegetable, right?”
5. Choose lean proteins
By adding lean protein like chicken or shrimp to your meal, not only will you consume more nutrient-dense calories, you also won’t risk overeating. Which leads me to…
6. Only look at half of your food
As tempting as inhaling your entire meal in five minutes may be, make a conscious effort to only eat half. You can do this a few different ways: split your meal with someone else, or make two halves on your plate and refuse to touch one of them.
If you don’t trust yourself to leave it alone, ask for a to-go box when your meal arrives to get it out of sight and out of mind. By taking half home, you get more bang for your buck and you don’t have to worry about preparing lunch for the next day.
7. Add vegetables
You can add essentially any and all vegetables to your pasta for just a few extra dollars each. We all know it’s easier to eat your broccoli when it’s covered in sauce.
8. Say hello to my little friend, the Dolcini
If you’re anything like me, dessert is the best part of any meal but is certainly not a regular thing. Thankfully, Olive Garden has the perfect solution in Dolcinis, a little treat to satisfy your sweet tooth without breaking the calorie bank.
Meeting up with your friends for breadsticks and catching up with each other doesn’t have to ruin your diet or training plan. Use these tips the next time you need your carb fix to satisfy your cravings and stay on track.