Italian Diet Secrets
How the Italian people manage to stay slim in the land of pizza and pasta.
Italian Diet Secret No. 1: Dine Leisurely continued...
When kids want a midday snack, they usually have yogurt or fruit, not cake,
cookies, or candy. Adults often opt for coffee or cappuccino made with
milk (not specialty coffees topped with whipped cream).
Dinner is a larger meal, but is not served too late (to allow time for
proper digestion). It's usually pasta with a tomato or vegetable sauce; a small
portion of fish or meat; vegetables; and fruit for dessert.Â Mineral
water is the preferred beverage, along with a glass of red wine. All portions
tend to be small when compared to our own supersized quantities.
Italian Diet Secret No. 2: Stop When You're Full
Italians are not concerned with calories because they stop eating when they
are full, says one Rome physician.
"We eat by our stomachs, not by our heads, and since we dine leisurely,
we get the signal that we are full and can just enjoy a coffee and the
company," says Stephano Gumina, MD, PhD.
Gumina also describes a very active lifestyle, with lots of walking or bike
riding, especially in urban areas of the country. Then there's the
Mediterranean-style diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, fish a
few times a week, lean meats or chicken, whole grains, olive oil, and red wine.
All of this helps Italians enjoy long lives, he says.
"Where we differ from Americans: We eat small portions, do not eat after
dinner, never in front of the television, computer, or while sitting sedentary
reading a book, and no junk food," he says.
In addition, Italians usually satisfy a sweet tooth with fruit instead of
higher-calorie desserts. A typical dessert could be fighi e albicocce
-- figs and apricots picked from the garden trees. In southern parts of
Italy, the enormous and delicate lemons are the basis for desserts such as
gelato and lemon ice.
Italian Diet Secret No. 3: Balance Quality and Quantity
On the sunny Amalfi coast up in the village of Ravello, the famous
"Mamma" Agata runs a fabulous restaurant overlooking the sea, teaches
Italian cooking classes, and plans to publish her first cookbook next year.