There are two reasons why the Italian lifestyle keeps most Italians fit and healthy: We eat genuine and balanced meals and we are physically active. We walk everywhere, whenever possible.
The Italian way of eating and living follows these simple rules:
1. Shop intelligently. Plan your meals, make a list of “good” food (not junk food) and buy only what’s on the list. Having “wrong” food at home will also cause too many temptations. Read labels, it is important to be aware of what there is in your food.
2. Respect meals during the day. Never skip the 3 main meals: Breakfast (the most important of the day), Lunch and Dinner. Eat two-three light snacks throughout the day (one in the morning, one in the afternoon, preferably a piece of fruit, few fresh, unsalted nuts, some lean proteins.
This will keep your hormone peaks stable, preventing insulin peaks that lead to weight gain. More importantly, rather than tracking weight, you should be aware of your body composition. Body composition reveals the relative proportions of fat and lean mass in the body.
3. Prefer quality to quantity. Shop for fresh, seasonal and unprocessed ingredients, avoid fast and junk food.
Fill up on fresh vegetables and fruits, rich in vitamins, mineral, antioxidants and fiber (at least 5 portions a day). Eat more healthy carbohydrates (such as whole grains, as well as legumes which are also rich in protein) and reduce unhealthy carbohydrates (such as white flour, refined sugar). Use less salt and fats (preferring extra virgin olive oil). Avoid unhealthy fats such as trans fats present in vegetable shortenings, margarine and hydrogenated vegetable oils). Eat fish (rich in omega 3 fatty acids and good for our heart) at least 3 times a week and meat twice a week (preferring poultry to red meat). Other sources of protein are eggs, milk and cheese.
4. Think about smaller portions to control your weight : use a smaller plate so the amount of food seems more because of an optical illusion (Delboeuf Illusion). You think that things are smaller when you compare them to things that are larger. So if you put a small amount of pasta for example on a large plate, your mind will tell you to put more pasta on the plate. Instead if you put the same amount of pasta on a smaller plate, your mind will tell you that you are eating enough pasta, so you will stop adding to it more. This is a simple trick but it works! (source: mamma mia diet)
5. Drink plenty of water (about 2 liters, 1/2 gallon) during the whole day. Avoid soft drinks (reduced-calorie drinks too), pre-packaged fruit juices, preferring instead fresh squeezed juices, homemade smoothies and herb tea. Moderate your intake of alcohol and coffee, but drink lots of water, which cleans your body of toxins and helps suppress your appetite. Drink a glass of water before and during each meal. Last but not least enjoy red wine (1 1/2 (women) – 2 glasses (men) a day.
6. Eat with those you love and love what you eat. Your food is not only nourishment, it represents much more, such as affection, caring and enjoyment, a daily pleasure to share with your loved ones.
7. Exercise. Regular exercise is important for physical fitness and general good health. The WHO recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity 5 times per week (for example brisk walking) to keep you in good health and 45 minutes of intense physical exercise (for example working out) 3 times per week. Your body functions at its best, if it is fed by the right foods. If you eat good food, you will have the right amount of energy during training and every day living. Food and training go hand to hand!