Pasta does not make you fat.
Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time in Italy can tell you this. A Mediterranean diet will not only make you skinnier, it will make you healthier.
I already ate a fairly healthy diet before moving here because I am a huge fan of quality food, freshly prepared. I have made my own soup stock and sauces from scratch for years and am a Slow Food aficionado…including being a member of their LinkedIn group. Basically, I didn’t just hop on a bandwagon.
Not only does the typical diet in Italy help maintain a healthy weight, but it also helps maintain your health. The science backs it up. The World Health Organization stats back it up. Most importantly, everything tastes good so it is not only easy to adopt, but, unlike “diets”, it is also easy to maintain. Who doesn’t like a diet with spaghetti, pizza and red wine as basic components?
What are some of the most basic tips that will keep your body slim and your taste buds satiated?
- Eat fresh
- Eat multiple times a day
- Don’t eat chemicals
- Eat colorfully
- Eat when you are hungry
Italians eat throughout the day and in small portions, except on holidays…then all bets are off. Food is bought much more frequently than is typical in the US, going to the market every couple days is not at all unusual. Preservatives are avoided as much as possible because they aren’t necessary if you go to market three times a week.
Beyond freshness, plates are colorful. Different fruits and vegetables are in abundance in bowls and refrigerators in every house in Italy…and they are eaten with gusto. This is great not only for flavors and a balanced diet, but also because of all the phytonutrients and antioxidants, besides, if you don’t eat them mamma or nonna will not be happy.
So what does an Italian typically eat?
- Prima colazione—the first breakfast, usually toast or a croissant and some fruit or fruit juice and yogurt and, of course, coffee
- Secunda colazione—the second breakfast, usually about 11 or so, a small sandwich and some coffee.
- Pranzo—lunch, a sandwich or small plate of pasta and a salad…a small plate of pasta means about 125g or a little over 1/4 lb and with a tomato based sauce typically.
- Merenda—snacktime, cheese or fruit and most likely an iced tea.
- Cena—dinner, this is generally good sized and is eaten fairly late 9pm. Some soup or antipasto, a small pasta serving and a small meat serving, roast pork, seafood or steak and a large salad or vegetables…and a glass of red wine.
Italians consume as much fat as most Americans…but, almost all of the fat is in the form of olive oil. Olive oil is monounsaturated fat, and gives you fat and flavor without issues with cholesterol and heart problems. The meat here is lean and high quality and portions are sized right. It’s the same thing with cheese, every house has multiple types of cheese, but people eat it in small portions…an ounce here or there or grated over pasta.
Good food does not make you fat. Eat fresh, eat healthy and eat a little at a time…except on holidays, we all need to have fun.
Eat like an Italian!!!