"They eat and eat and eat and yet I have not seen one Morbidly Obese Italian," I emailed Big Dog.
It was a mystery. (Actually, the bigger mystery is how there can be so many morbidly obese people in the US!)
Everywhere around me, people seem to be eating all the time. There's breakfast, of course, though not a heavy one like you'd find in the States. It's generally a milky coffee (with sugar, though!) and some kind of bread. Then, there's the mid-morning snack. Like a pastry with more coffee. Then a substantial lunch. With wine and maybe even dessert. A gelato is good any time of day. Then, there's a pre-dinner munch with drinks. A giant multi-course dinner. More wine, more dessert. Maybe even a digestif.
No one talks about carb-free or fat-free or gluten-free. Not in this country of pasta and cheeses and olive oils.
So how can the Italians pig out like this and not get fat like Americans? Sure, there are fat Italians, just like there are fat Japanese, fat Filipinos, fat anybodies. But not like the grossly obese men, women and children you see everywhere in the US.
Here are some differences:
* People eat a lot of cured meats but they are not as salty as the processed meats of the US. And they are made the old, traditional way. Not in a modern factory with tons of chemicals. There is no baloney in Bologna.
* They don't eat fast food. Yes, there are a few McDonald's and Burger Kings but not as many and far fewer customers. (I can't help but wonder why the handful of people inside a fast food outlet are there.)
* Sugary soft drinks are not consumed much. Colas are more expensive and, like cola products in many countries, use sugar, not corn syrup.
* Most things are made from scratch and the ones that aren't are still made from scratch, just by someone else.
* The diet is varied, with a good balance of meat, carbs, vegetables and fruit.
* No GMOs.
* No growth hormones.
* People take their time eating, enjoying every bite.
* There is less car use, more walking. Lots more stairs.
* Italians love to yak. (My theory is that you have to eat slower when you talk that much. Also I believe talking aids digestion.)
It's probably a combination of any or all of the above, what as well as how you eat, but I am convinced that if we live and eat like Italians, we could end this obesity problem for real.
Labels: Italy, matters of the belly, on-the-road