Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Olive Garden Help?

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10-18-2005, 07:10 PM
This Friday, I have plans to meet some friends at Olive Garden. Does anybody have a suggestion on what some of their healthier choices might be?

I'm not an Atkins girl (hence not anti-carb), but I hear horror stories about the all-you-can-eat breadsticks. I typically follow a "Mediterranean diet", with more seafood than red meat, lots of vegetables, and fewer refined carbs.

I figure it would be good to pre-plan my food choice rather than open the door for another runaway meal. Thanks in advance ...

10-18-2005, 07:33 PM
Their garden fare is supposed to be low fat and some items have calorie counts posted. They are all still pretty high. If I was you I would get a salad with lite dressing and half the meal and save the other half for lunch the following day. Have fun! ;)

10-18-2005, 08:07 PM
The have low-fat items marked on the menu, and you can get low-fat salad dressing rather than the dressing the salad bowl comes with automatically. Also, you can go to and look up the nutritional info for a lot of their dishes. Remember that one of the best ways to control intake at a restaurant is portion control -- Olive Garden is one of those places where an entree is easily 2 or 3 (or more!) times more food than a person should eat at a single meal.

10-18-2005, 08:09 PM
Plan ahead and visualize refusing the bread sticks, practice what you will say even... Good luck and let us know how it goes...

10-18-2005, 10:29 PM
I agree with funniegrrl - go to, click on "browse fast foods", and select Olive Garden from the "choose a brand" drop-down menu. And definitely fill up on salad.

10-19-2005, 10:48 PM
try finding the olive gsrden web site glen

10-20-2005, 01:57 PM
They have a pasta with an awesome fresh tomato sauce that's reasonable calorie-wise. My advice is to get a to-go box immediately and put 1/2 in it and enjoy the rest, along with a salad with lf dressing and no breadsticks. :)

10-21-2005, 04:09 PM
Thanks so much for the tips!

I've opted to go with a low-fat (though high-calorie) entree of shrimp primavera. It has 700+ calories, but I am going to follow the advice of Pat and order a to-go box when I get the meal. Olive Garden also offers a whole-wheat pasta substitution, so I am going to opt for that. I think I am going to choose their minestrone soup (164 calories) instead of salad ... it's soup weather here in Minnesota. I can't skip on the breadsticks, I just can't. But I can limit them to two or three. And I'll probably have a glass of wine. It won't be a low-calorie meal, but it's better than my usual non-planned meals at restaurants!

10-21-2005, 04:22 PM
Great go on the planning and good luck. Please let us know how it goes, good or bad...

10-22-2005, 12:15 PM
Well, we went last night and here's what I had:

4 breadsticks :rolleyes:
1 bowl of minestrone soup
of the shrimp primavera entree
1 glass of wine
2 glasses of water

I forgot about ordering it with whole-wheat pasta. I drank only one glass of wine with the meal, and I had 1-2 extra breadsticks because we sat there for quite a while.

For breakfast, I had peanut butter toast and lunch was a side salad and about 15 peanuts in the shell, so I think the calorie balance was OK on the extra breadsticks. I should probably plunk it into just to see. I did notice a binge-like tendency when I was there, because I'd had such a small lunch and breakfast.

Thanks, everybody, for the advice!

10-22-2005, 12:42 PM
phantastica - I think you did pretty good considering everything... For ME eating very little before an occasion is the worse thing I can do, because like you say it leads to bingeing when you get to the occasion. I now will have a protein shake or even a salad with some protein. The protein keeps me full till the meal actually arrives, it also keeps me away from the dang breads!

10-24-2005, 11:44 AM
I definitely can see the strategy in eating something a little before-hand! I did feel myself go into "binge mode". It's one thing to go in with an appetite, quite another to go in starving!

10-24-2005, 11:54 AM
that is a good idea especialy when people are goib to buffet so your stomach don't get bigger than your eyes. :lol: glen

10-25-2005, 12:47 AM
phantastica -- I have the same problems you do and have found that planning is really important, as well as eating something satisfying beforehand. I think you did great, and maybe next time, 1 or 2 less breadsticks... as long as you're feeling in control, that's the important part!

One other thing I am trying to think about -- to reprogram myself actually -- is that going out with friends can be about the people, and not just the food. It sounds odd to say it, but I do overly focus on the food.

11-03-2005, 06:11 PM
I know your trip to the OG has already passed, but I have a good idea for the next time anyone goes.. usually I save ration out my calories for the day so that if I go to the Olive Garden I can get their "Chicken Giardino" for lunch - 460 calories - or the dinner version - 560-600 calories. However, it's fillng and you could always take some of it home, it's delicious.

If you don't want to save a lot of cals for the meal, though, just order the Kid's Grilled Chicken entree. I've done it before and they don't mind. It comes with a tasty chicken breast, a small side of noodles with tomato sauce, and broccolli. The whole thing is just 350 calories. :hun:

11-04-2005, 06:51 PM
Getting the kids' item is a great idea. I've also shared the salmon or tilapia entree w/someone, definitely enough food to share and it came w/side of vegetables.

I didn't know you could order the salad w/a different dressing--good to know for next time.

11-09-2005, 02:30 PM
You are right about the Chicken Giordino, it is great and reheats wonderfully for lunch the next day. I also love to order my meals from the seniors or childrens menu portions are so big these days and it can hard to leave food sitting on the plate.

03-03-2006, 01:09 PM
the minestrone soup is heavenly at Olive Garden...I could eat that all day long...

I always keep the breadsticks on the opposite side of the table from me. I get one, tear it in half and give the other half to DH. I make that breadstick last the entire meal. Definitely a difficult task, but worth bragging about that NSV!!!