Commentary by Jeanette Beck
It’s almost impossible to travel to Italy and not worry about what will happen to your waistline. Pizza, pasta, gelato and four-course meals are the norm. This past summer I spent five weeks in Italy visiting family and managed to start and end my vacation on the same belt loop. Yes, I did gain a few pounds, but nothing like what I expected. From day 1 to day 35 I ate out almost every meal. Breakfast was always a cappuccino and croissant, lunch was either pizza or pasta and dinner was usually seafood. I immediately noticed the portions were smaller and all of the food I was eating was fresh, not processed.
Italians are very proud of their food and enjoy long meals. However, I broke protocol and stayed away from the four-course dinners on most occasions and my waistline approved. I also walked and walked and walked. My Fit bit logged more than 10,000 steps a day. Italians walk after most meals to help with digestion and catch up on their social lives. Meal times are also much different than in the United States. Lunch is usually around 1:30 p.m. and as my family member stated “No self respecting Italian would eat dinner before 8:00 p.m.” I was worried that my stomach would not adjust since our family usually eats dinner around 5 p.m. But five weeks of pizza, pasta, gelato and wine had no effect on my belt loop.
It is possible to spend time in Italy, enjoy the food you love, and not pay the price on the scale. But you need to stay active and pass on most four-course meals each day. In the end I gained only five pounds. A victory for foodies everywhere.