Have Your Pasta & Eat It, Too!

by Marsha Hudnall

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Healthy Eating with Carbohydrates | Italian StyleFacts regarding the low-carbohydrate rage, based on two recent consumer studies.

  • 44% of American adults say they are trying to limit carbohydrates, but only about 4% say they are on a low-carbohydrate diet.
  • Of those 4% on a low-carbohydrate diet, only 1/4 of them actually significantly cut their carbohydrates.

What does this tell us? On the one hand, it’s more confirmation that low-carbohydrate diets are just another fad. On the other, however, it shows that many Americans still believe limiting carbohydrates is a reasonable part of a healthy eating plan.

We agree – limiting some refined carbs is advisable, but as Americans seem to have realized, we also need complex carbs. See our recent FitBriefing “Carbohydrate Cravings: Calming Food Cravings.”

So how can you eat and enjoy carbs foods and stay healthy? In this article, we draw on the example of our Italian friends to illustrate.

Healthy Eating Italian Style

It’s no secret that Italians enjoy their pasta (and other Mediterranean cultures enjoy their breads, couscous, etc.). What’s more, they eat more cheese, use more olive oil and drink more wine than Americans. Plus, they love sweets. So why can they eat these types of food and still be healthier than Americans?

In truth, it’s more about how Italians eat than what they eat. Try these tips to duplicate the Italian healthy eating style in your life.

  • Make mealtimes important. In Italy, typical breakfasts are small, but they’re eaten – not skipped. Lunch takes place from noon to 3 pm, when most of the country seems to shut down for a daily break — when the main meal of the day is eaten. Dinner is usually lighter than lunch – perhaps a plate of pasta and some fresh vegetables – but it’s still a meal that satisfies on all levels.
  • Choose foods for taste, texture and balance. Italians eat simply but well. Care and thought is put into what will be served at meals, whether they are ordered at restaurants or prepared at home. Then meals are relished, appreciating the fine flavors and textures. Our Plate Model for Healthy Eating shows you how to balance your meals. It’s up to you to decide what you like to eat and put it all together for optimum enjoyment. But note that carb-rich foods are part of the mix – they’re eaten in balance with other foods for an enjoyable, healthy meal.
  • Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Italians still love to shop in local small, often open-air, markets to pick the best foods the season has to offer. While such stores may not be available to you, supermarkets in this country provide a fine array of produce. Be adventurous; get a good vegetable cookbook for new recipes to keep you interested in eating your veggies. It may be as simple as a adding a few fresh herbs to your usual vegetable dish.
  • Drink plentifully. Yes, Italians enjoy their wine, but they also enjoy plenty of water. Sodas, juices and other drinks aren’t that commonly consumed; in fact, they’re usually much more expensive than in the U.S.
  • Walk and enjoy. Italians love to walk – from store to store to purchase items for meals and other needs, and after dinner as a digestivo. Walking after a meal certainly improves digestion as well as providing other mental and physical benefits.

The bad news is that many of the American-style ways are starting to impact the traditional Italian lifestyle, such as large portion sizes and tv-watching instead of walking after meals. But you can still enjoy the real thing on our cooking tour of Italy. Experience for yourself the wonderful benefits of the traditional Italian lifestyle. Contact us at info[@]fitwoman.com to learn more about our tours.

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