Italians don't get fat is a popular saying used to describe Italian food and lifestyle. Italians are famously devoted to their great food, yet their obesity rate is quite low compared with the other countries in Europe and in the United States. In the article, as proud Italian, I will offer you some tips how to eat good and shed the pounds; and still enjoy la dolce vita!
How the Italians Don't Get Fat in the Land of Pasta and Pizza?
Italy is a Mediterranean country where obesity and being overweight are rare despite an abundance of pizza, pasta, and many other delectable meals. So, the question is there Italian diet secret we can learn from too?
Many studies found that a Mediterranean diet has numerous health benefits, from reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease, to living a healthier, longer life. However, something must be getting lost in translation.
On a recent trip to my homeland, Italy, I decided to see for myself why the Italians don't get fat. My trip started in Verona (where my family lives), in the northern Italy, in the Veneto region, and ended 15 days later further south on the Amalfi coast. Apart from spending time with my family and relatives, my mission was to finding out more information that I can share with you on my blog - how the people in Italy manage to enjoy delicious Mediterranean foods, still maintain healthy weights. So, in this article I present you some tips, little secrets, why Italians don't get fat:
• Dine Leisurely
It quickly became very clear that the Italians, just like some other Mediterranean countries, know how to really enjoy the experience of eating. They socialise and relax while dining over dinner. Before and after dinner, most people in Italy engage in a leisurely stroll through town, called passeggiata. Peers walk together, talking and keeping alive a valued tradition.
People in Italy enjoy a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, fish, beans, tomatoes, poultry, whole grains, olive oil, red wine, dairy -- and they consume very little red meat.
Usually, Italians start the day with a quite small breakfast of coffee with/or without milk along with a cornetto (a small biscuit) or cereals. Lunch varies all over the country and from family to family but normally consists of a "1st plate" and "2nd plate," such as a salad and sandwich, or a small plate of some pasta followed by a little piece of chicken or fish and vegetables.
• Stop When You're Full
Many people in Italy aren't concerned with calories because they usually stop eating when they are full. Italians also lead an active lifestyle, with lots of bike riding or walking, mostly in urban areas. Moreover, they usually satisfy a sweet tooth with fruits instead of sweet desserts.
• Enjoy Homemade Meals
Beans are a great part of the Tuscan diet, which are high in soluble fibre and protein that fill you up for a longer time for a few calories. Pasta e fagioli and ribolitta soup are 2 popular health dishes with beans.
Balsamic vinegar is another flavorful, very low-calorie, product of Italy, which is used freely to flavor salads and other foods.
Down south, artichokes, the fresh fish, herbs, gigantic lemons, and capers contribute to healthy and delicious cuisine. Pasta is typically served al dente, with some olive oil or vegetables and tomato sauce, and always in small portions. And what I personally like the most is that the kitchen secrets are passed along from generation to generation, little children can always be found in the kitchen with their mammas - learning from the masters.
See also: The Magic of Olive Oil and Coffee
• Balance Quality & Quantity
Italians simply balance the quality and quantity of foods -- not too much fat, just a little red meat, lots of chicken, turkey, and fish, and just enough carbohydrates.
Extra virgin olive oil is the preferred one, used extensively on salads and in cooking. People in Italy enjoy the monounsaturated fat, but they don't overdo it. These healthy fats are much better than saturated or trans fats, but olive oil is also a fat and it needs to be consumed in limited quantities.
• Do not 'Diet'
Italians learn to eat well and just enjoy something sweet on occasion, and this way they aren't frustrated. That is so right! Because when people go on diets, they usually get depressed and gain even more weight. Therefore, the next time you are in the mood for Italian food just serve up a dish inspired by the land of Romeo and Juliet that includes all the health benefits of a well-balanced Mediterranean diet.
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