Yesterday I came home from a 2 week trip to Europe. After exploring several regions in Italy I had a plethora of culinary experiences behind my belt. The foods that stood out the most during the trip were pizza, pastas and gelato. I will confess that I had gelato every single day and ate more pasta during the last two weeks than I did during the last two years. However, my clothes still fit the same. During the trip, I took notice of not only what I ate, but how I ate it. Here are top 5 tips that I learned from Italians.
1. Small portions. Yes, you can have a pizza or a bowl of pasta, but in smaller portions than we are used to in US. While I don't believe in calorie counting, I do believe in sizes. Just like you think about the size of you body when you are picking out clothes to buy, choose the size of your dishes keeping in mind the size of your stomach. While vegetables are mainly water, starches and meats should not be bigger than your fist, if you want to be truly comfortable afterwards.
3. Ingredients matter. In Europe there are no hormones and no antibiotics given to animals. Fruits and vegetables have less pesticides, if any. It is important to remember that lots of toxins don't leave our bodies and get trapped between fat cells and water. In shopping analogies, look at the toxins as clothes that you don't need, but have to create extra closet space for. Get rid of them all together and you will get rid of clutter that is not doing you any good. Try to purchase organic foods and you will see how your body responds.
3. Remember the reason for eating. Yes, we eat because we are hungry, but we also eat because it is a way to socialize. When eating with friends and family, focus on the company, not only the food. Let the people around you bring sweetness into your life, instead of cake. Just like in shopping, the satisfaction of a purchase is not only in the items that you buy, but also in the experience of the store.
4. Walk, do not sit. After a meal in Europe, we would take a stroll and enjoy the nature, instead of sitting glued to the TV. Short 15-20 minute walks can do wonders to your body. In shopping terms, look at a walk after a meal as you do at a walk in the mall -- an activity that gets you closer to your goal.
5. If you screw up, forgedaboudit. Life is about enjoyment and sometimes we do over-indulge. If that happens, don't dwell on the past, take it as a learning experience and focus on the enjoyment of the experience. The past is over, so it is how you spend your present that's most important. Choose to think about the happy moments that you experienced and enjoy la dolce vita!
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