“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti” – Sophia Loren
It is January and everyone is talking about diets but have you ever wondered how the Italians diet?
Italians are not that bothered about fancy diets at all. The Mediterranean diet will still be the one of their choice if they want to lose weight. They will just simply cut back, eat less, avoiding fried and heavy foods and reduce their sugar intake but what’s more interesting, they will still be enjoying their food with fresh and tasty ingredients.
So how do you lose weight the Italian way? Follow a few simple rules:
1- Olive oil is king: forget about butter, use olive oil everywhere but don’t overdo it. For instance you don’t need to dunk your bread in oil, just use it sparingly to bring to life your salads, in your pasta and to cook fish and meat. Moderation is the key.
2- Drink water: drink nothing else other than water at mealtimes along with a small glass of red wine…not a bottle!
3- Do not snack: or better still have fruit if you feel peckish in between meals. Italians have three square meals a day and that’s it. There is no need to eat anything else when you have 3 satisfying meals a day.
4- Savour and enjoy your food: Very important! Your aim is to feel satisfied after your meal. That is the key to feeling full and happier for longer.
5-Eat plenty of fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables: every meal should include a good portion of vegetables. So go to your greengrocer and stock up with plenty of colourful fruit and veg. Eat raw vegetables whenever you can: snack on raw carrots, celery sticks, plenty of fresh salad leaves. Raw vegetables retain all their vitamins which are often destroyed during cooking.
6-Reduce your portions but do not cut out any food groups: You need everything to be healthy (unless there are specific medical reasons or intollerances). This is a Mediterranean food pyramid. As you can see it includes every food group even wine (in moderation) and red meat should be consumed rarely.
7-Eat fish at least twice a week: fish is very light, is low in calories and very healthy. Cod, haddock, mackerel, seabass and seabream are an excellent choice.
8-Walk daily as much as you can. Exercise is just as important as diet to keep fit and healthy.
9-Train your tastebuds to enjoy lighter healthier food: ditch that jar of mayo, cream, salad dressings and pre-packaged seasonings. You will ultimately learn to appreciate better more subtle simple and lighter flavours. You want to choose good quality ingredients for your cooking and not cover them up with heavy or industrial seasonings. I did this with hubby and it worked!
10-Take your time to cook: you cannot rely on corporations to cook healthy meals for you. No ready meal can be comparable to a healthy and fresh homecooked meal. If you are short of time just boil some water and make a simple pasta al pomodoro with fresh basil leaves and a final touch of grated parmesan cheese on top mmm…!