Friday, June 17, 2011

DAY 168 -- So called "diet tips" compared to Italian way.

As I mentioned yesterday (click here), I want to discuss so called "diet tips" compared to the Italian way of eating.  I don't necessarily have any "answers" as to why Italians are trim when they seem to break many "diet rules" but I find it fascinating.  I wish someone would pay me a huge sum of money to go live in Italy and research the differences.

Keep in mind, I am using diet rules I have heard about.  They are not diet tips I follow for My Healthy Eating Challenge.

Supposed Diet Rule: Eat breakfast fit for a king, lunch fit for a queen, and supper fit for a pauper.  In other words, eat a hearty size breakfast, a medium size lunch, and a small supper.  Most diet experts tell us that the stomach does not have time to digest a large meal at the end of the day.
  • Italian Way:  They eat a very small breakfast, a medium size lunch, and huge supper.
Supposed Diet Rule: Beware of carbs, especially pasta and bread.  Many diets restrict carb intake and especially warn about eating pasta and bread.
  • Italian Way:  Pasta and bread are staples at meal time.  And their breakfast consists of pastries and cookies...high in carbs.
  • (My thoughts:  They rarely eat processed pasta or bread though, most of it is homemade or from a bakery, so maybe that is a key?)
Supposed Diet Rule:  Don't eat after 7 or 8 p.m.  Again, with the belief that the body cannot digest food properly later in the day.  I've personally known people who religiously adhere to the "Don't eat after 7 p.m." rule, even when their stomach was growling.

  • Italian Way:  They generally do not eat supper until 8:00 p.m.  In fact, many restaurants don't even open until that hour.  And then the meal lasts about 2 hours, so they eat from 8:00 p.m. until 10 p.m.

Supposed Diet RuleEat six small meals per day.  Most diet experts tell us not to let our bodies feel hungry, and to keep blood sugars level, it is better to eat small meals throughout the day.
  • Italian Way: They eat three meals a day, (breakfast at 7 or 8 a.m., lunch at 12 or 1 p.m., and supper at 8 p.m.) with maybe one small snack (at least from what I observed).
Supposed Diet Rule: Control portions and/or calories.
  • Italian Way:  I saw thin Italians packing away large quantities of food.  The meals we were served in restaurants were large.  One evening I went to dinner with the other interns.  The meal was served family style and the owner got upset with us when we did not completely finish one of the courses.  We were full.  But she didn't care.  She left the plate there for us to divvy up and eat anyway.
It boggles my mind, the difference in their way of eating.  I have a friend who lives in Belgium and from what she told me, it sounds like they eat in a similar fashion.  I am curious if other European countries also eat that way.

I have no clue how they can break these "rules" and still stay trim.  Tomorrow I will post observations about Italian eating that do seem to follow the "rules."

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if freshness makes a difference. In France they go to the market daily and get just that day's food, traditionally, although supermarkets are changing that.