In the summer of 2006 I studied abroad in Italy for 6 weeks. There were about 14 of us living in Perugia, and we would travel to other parts of the Umbrian & Tuscan regions each week.
As many of you might guess, one of the best things about Italy is the FOOD. I knew when I decided to take this trip there was a chance that I would come back 10 lbs heavier than when I left, and I was ok with that. It was the price I was willing to pay. Much to my surprise, I don’t think I actually gained any weight after weeks of eating gelato, pizza, spaghetti, drinking really good Italian beer and devouring my weight in cheese. I never stepped on an actual scale, but all my clothes still fit when I got on that plane to fly home. But some things did change while I was there. My hair, for one grew like a weed! It was shiny and super healthy by the end of my tenure there. My skin got really clear and glowy looking. I came back looking like one of those shiny Italian models from Milan. Well not really, but you get the idea.
A few weeks after I returned, I realized the reason my hair got shinier and my skin got clearer didn’t have anything to do with all those beautiful Italian people rubbing off on me, rather it had to do with what I ate. In addition to my diet, I walked everywhere. I walked to the markets, dinner, church, to complete assignments and to have my daily afternoon espresso. But I believe the biggest factor was my diet.
The more I thought about my what I was eating, the more it all made sense. I ate fresh fruits and vegetables, bought home straight from the market every day. The breads and cheeses we ate didn’t have any preservatives or “fillers” in them. I had olive oil at almost every meal. I barely ate any meat, in fact, I don’t think I had any meat at all other than fresh tuna – which I actually craved (I’m not a fish eater really). All the things I ate came straight from a garden or a farm. I also realized I wasn’t eating massive portions of food. Pizza tasted better, so I ate less and felt happy and full. I also ate something sweet every day. “Hello, my name is Rebecca and I’m a gelato addict.”
After all these realizations, I started doing a little research on the difference between American and European diets, and I discovered something called The Slow Food Movement. In basic terms, slow food means an appreciation for all things gastronomic. Here is a pretty concise explanation from the slow food website. Oh, and it started in Italy!
The Slow Food Movement has what are called, conviviums. These are basically “chapters” of the movement in different areas. We have one in Asheville, and I encourage you to find out if you have one in your area. You can do that here. If nothing else, it’s a great resource if you want to eat cleaner and learn more about eating to honor the environment.
I hope I wasn’t too “preachy” with all of this. Just wanted to share the love ya’ll! For reference here is a sample of what I would eat on a daily basis.
Breakfast: Hard boiled eggs and some muesli in soymilk or plain yogurt
Lunch: Greens with cabbage and carrots + olive oil & vinegar, sandwich with tomato and cheese or just straight up cheese, piece of fruit
Snack: Macchiato and a small cookie or biscuit
Dinner: Caprese salad with bread and olive oil w/ red wine
Night cap: More fruit or yogurt – or beer (oops)
Simple enough? I think so too. Amen.
“Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn.” ~Garrison Keillor