28 Jul The SHOCKING TRUTH About Italian Food
and how what happened to me just might change your life…
10 days traveling from Rome to Florence, Pisa and through Tuscany then ultimately winding up in Venice Italy. It was a “working” vacation for me and turned out to be the trip of a lifetime. And WORK I did. I ate my way around the country and didn’t say no to anything. I wanted to get into local cuisine, see beyond the pasta and red sauce and truly get an idea as to how people really ate. REAL families. Real food. And so I did. I was prepared to “suffer” the consequences of the scale when I returned. What happened, however SHOCKED the living daylights out of me.
There was no food I refused. I tried everything. I don’t normally eat pasta, but I did. I don’t normally eat a lot of dairy, but I tried many different cheeses and desserts like panna cotta, ricotta cheese pie and of course fresh mozzarella and ricotta. I ate a piece of bread with dinner. I ate pizza. I tried many kinds of local olives and oils, hams, salami, meats and grilled vegetables. All my dinners included a glass of wine. Nights out included wine or an aperitif. It was a trip of gastronomical proportions and I tried it all.
I returned home, full of fond memories while having met some amazing people and seen some incredible sights. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel FAT, but I did worry… The morning after my arrival home, I prepared myself to step on the scale. With a few trickles of sweat coming down my brow and my eyes closed, I hopped on the digital master. It took great courage to open them, but when I did what I saw boggled my mind.
I was several pounds lighter than when I left!
WHAT?!?! How in the world did that happen? I really, really can’t tell you how shocked I was. As I made my coffee that morning I knew I had to think this through. As I racked my brain, I just kept thinking come ON! I mean I sat down to my meals and hungrily savored the local foods. I tried everything without guilt. I enjoyed my way through countless meals in countless cities and towns. I enjoyed the wine. I laughed at dessert… I marveled at the flavors… and I LOST weight?!? HOW did this happen??!!
And then it dawned on me. Those very things were the REASON why it happened the way it did… THIS was the ANSWER! What do I mean? Read on…
I thought it through and was blown away by my revelation. I drew many conclusions that led to HUGE takeaways: First and foremost, and I think this is the MOST important thing: Italians eat REAL food. People eat local, sit down to enjoy their meals and what they eat is not prepared food, it does not come out of a box or a microwave. It is not garbage. It’s real food, and often picked right out of their back yards and prepared simply. Because of this, it’s nutrient dense. It’s delicious. It’s so so so flavorful you savor it! It’s not fancy food, it’s REAL food and it tastes amazing.
This led me to a few take-away’s:
Takeaway #1: Eat REAL food made from real ingredients. If it comes out of a box, stay away from it. If it has chemicals, throw it out.
Takeaway #2: Prepare it simply. Start with good ingredients and season them easily. NO fancy cooking methods- keep it simple.
Takeaway #3: Sit down and enjoy your meal. Stop eating on the go.
When I reflected back, I realized that I did, indeed, try everything, but I never over-did it. Because the food tasted SO good (read the above paragraph) and was so satisfying, I didn’t need to eat a lot of it before I was full. (BTW- there are tons of studies showing that fresh, real food is so much more nutrient rich that your body is happier, faster, and doesn’t feel the need to eat more and more…)
More importantly, when I sat down to eat my meals, I was HUNGRY. Why? Because I got plenty of exercise that day walking around the towns & doing sightseeing. There were a few days we charted 15,000 steps. I ate 3 meals a day, and sometimes a snack, but I was never bored or obsessed with food.
Takeaway #4: Eat good quality foods in moderation and don’t over do it.
Takeaway #5: Get moving and get hungry. You don’t have to do 15,000 steps a day, but moving your body gets you hungry. I swear food tastes better when you are!
Last, but certainly not least, while I was eating (and even before and after) I didn’t stress, and I didn’t judge myself. I didn’t analyze the bread basket in front of me and torture myself by denying a piece. I had one piece of bread and I relished every bite. I laughed with the people around me and enjoyed the meal, enjoyed the camaraderie and I loved every minute of it. I wasn’t scarfing down food with my cell phone in hand- I was engaged with my meal and the people around me. Of course, the wine helped with this, lol. But it was one glass, sipped and savored…. the same was true with the after-dinner evenings out at the outdoor cafes… we laughed, talked, CONNECTED. There was go guilt. There was no beating myself up. There was no torture.
There was nothing but J-O-Y.
Takeaway #6: Connect with the food, the people and most importantly, yourself. Be present and in the moment when you are eating.. not somewhere else.
Takeaway #7: STOP beating yourself up or feeling guilty and enjoy- responsibly.
My working trip to Italy proved to me that truly enjoying good quality food, simply prepared, in a happy, community focused and responsible fashion without guilt, without fuss and without worry could actually let me LOSE weight without even trying. Simply by moving, connecting and BEING I not only thoroughly enjoyed myself, but I literally hungered for NO more.
My biggest takeaway of all? I hereby vow to take these important lessons and put them in place on this side of the Atlantic, in my own home and my own life every day.
I have decided to no longer torture myself with food- and you shouldn’t either. Don’t double question everything. Don’t deny yourself pleasure. Be responsible, accountable and love every bite while sharing it with friends. The answer to weight loss and being happy doesn’t lie in a magic pill or in a book. It’s in your hands, your heart and your mind. Isn’t it time to set yourself free?