Earlier this year, when I read that US News and World Report had named The Mediterranean Diet the Best Diet in the World for the sixth year in a row, I felt compelled to make a change. I wanted to start transitioning to this way of eating. However, I prefer the modifications of the Italian Mediterranean Diet. It’s important to also understand that it’s not just a diet. What makes people who eat this way so healthy is also the way that they live.
It makes me think of the Italians I know who follow the Italian Mediterranean Diet. I’ve worked with many Italians in the Hospitality Industry and one thing that always came across loud and clear. They value pleasure and community. They actively seek out ways to enjoy life and to spend time with people they like and love.
This may explain why Italy was also named 2023’s World’s Healthiest Country. Italians are remarkably healthy. They eat high-quality food. They don’t eat the massive portions that people, generally, associate with Italian Americans and Italian American cuisine. They eat normal portions.
The authentic Italian cuisine is superior because, in Italy, most of the major food products that are exported, such as Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano and Mozzarella di Bufala di Campana, are protected by consortiums. These are trade associations. They safeguard the quality, image and marketing of the product and ensure high production standards.
For about five years, I worked for the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce, Southeast on an initiative sponsored by the Italian government called the Extraordinary Italian Taste which, in partnership with the Italian Chambers of Commerce throughout the world, aimed to educate consumers about the superiority of Made in Italy products as well as the major harm being done to the Italian economy by fraudulent and Italian-sounding products.
This experience exposed me to the best Italian restaurateurs, chefs and food products to be found in Miami. I began to fall in love with authentic Italian cuisine and to really appreciate the love and passions that Italians have for food. And, as I stated earlier, the way they eat is part of a broader lifestyle that non-Italians usually describe as La Dolce Vita.
I realized that 2023 is the year that I’m going to begin eating more like the Italians. I’m going to expand my repertoire of vegetable dishes. I only know a few recipes. For example, I make mean sauteed zucchini. Everyone loves it. I also make a great Greek Salad (Granted, not Italian, but Italians do eat a lot of salad, too). Now, though, I want to do a bit more, rather than keep repeating the same old, same old.
Eating Like an Italian
Following the Mediterranean Diet is easier than I thought it would be and the Italian Mediterranean Diet is just a slight variation. The traditional Mediterranean Diet focuses mostly on plant-based foods and grains. Meat is more of a seasoning than the main dish. Italians tend to use a bit more meat and, of course, pasta. The pasta that’s Made in Italy is much healthier because its made from finer ingredients.
What’s also great about this way of eating is that it’s good for the environment,. When we reduce our meat consumption we reduce the carbon gas emissions that result from the farming of meat. The Italian Mediterranean Diet also focuses on local produce. Many Italians even have their own gardens and like to grow their own vegetables. But sourcing locally also reduces carbon gas emissions, and its supports the local community and going to local Farmer’s Markets is a great way to also get to know your local community better.
So, 2023, is the year that I’m going to throw myself into the Italian Mediterranean Diet and I’ll be sharing my experience here on this blog. I’d love to hear your experience with this diet and your comments and feedback.
More soon. xo