I have always said HOW you eat is just as important as WHAT you eat. People in America avoid entire food groups. The most common enemies are dairy, sugar and carbohydrates. And these 3 foods are the basis of any Italians diet.
And after spending the past month in Italy eating pasta, pizza, bread, cheese and gelato every day I have noticed that I have leaned out. So what is the secret behind this? Three things play a part in the success of their diet.
WHERE they eat, the TIME they spend eating and HOW they enjoy their food. You will never see an Italian eating in the car or on the go. You will never see them eating at their desk or in front of a TV. You will also notice that meal time is something that takes anywhere from one to three hours. And it is usually enjoyed with friends and family.
I have always had a theory that cortisol levels play havoc with our weight. Cortisol is the hormone our body releases when we are stressed and it is responsible for storing fat especially around the belly. It causes insulin resistance in the body and can result in weight gain.
And when we are in a rush and stressed this hormone is flooding our system. So I am encouraging you to set aside 1 hour for lunch and dinner every single day. Chew your food, notice the taste and texture, and savor each bite.
They also don’t eat food out of a takeout container. They set the table with cutlery, plates and glasses. They are also not big on snacking and prefer to eat 3 big balanced meals. And while they eat veggies this is something they usually do after the main meal. Instead they start with some sort of pasta, risotto, pizza or bread with cheese.
They then move onto a light protein option like fish, meat or chicken with assorted veggies or a green salad. And there is always room for dolce. Not a huge portion but a few spoonful or bites of chocolate, gelato or a tart with a strong espresso. They use the coffee to aid digestion.
They drink water before or after mealtime. They don’t drink while eating unless of cause it’s a nice glass of wine. Water actually dilutes the enzymes in your saliva that aids digestion.
When cooking Italians don’t do much to their food. They prefer to keep it simple and only use local seasonal produce. You won’t find peaches in the store in the winter and they try to buy from the local surrounding areas.
They cook with a lot of olive oil and drizzle it on everything. I think I have about 1/3 of a cup every day and I find it curbs my appetite. It also adds fuel to our metabolism so it burns long after we are done eating. Oil is also great for the health of your gut. And just like the Italians I am a huge fan of using fresh herbs and dried spices to add calorie free flavor to my food.
And these spices actually aid digestion. Italians also head to the market daily so they are using ripe and fresh produce. And they try to move after each meal to aid digestion. I am not talking about a massive workout that leaves you sweaty and breathless. Just a 10-15 minute walk. So perhaps try setting aside time to walk around the neighborhood after dinner.
So here’s to enjoying all the food groups and putting the joy back into eating by giving up restrictive diets forever. I would love to hear what you think about their lifestyle and way of eating and I would love to hear if you try any of these suggestions and have success.
Big kisses from Italy