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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The South Beach Diet-Italian Style

Yes, the year is almost over and I need a New Years Resolution. In past years I have not made any serious resolutions since I usually just change things as they need to be changed. This year however, I am making a resolution and starting it early. I need to lose 10 pounds (about 4.5 kilos.)immediately. After thinking back on my past 9 months here in Italy, I've come to realize that my eating habits have changed enough for me to put on ½ a pound a month. I have also noticed that I can't zip up certain pairs of pants and that there are bulges where there were none before. Since the hubby has lost so much weight I thought I better get on the band wagon too. There is nothing more annoying that tight clothing.

I know the food culture in Italy is much different than in the U.S. Sometimes I forget this is this not a vacation and I actually live here. In my daily life there are things that I do differently here and these are the things I need to change.

Here's what I've noticed:

1. I never used to drink juice, never. I never bought it and hated the bottled/frozen stuff but now I drink fresh squeezed juice at bars and buy it also. Although good juice has a ton of vitamins in it, it also has the same amount of sugar as soda pop. I never drink soda and still don't thank goodness.

2. The preferred breakfast of Italians in either espresso or espresso and brioche aka pastries. If I want to meet a girlfriend for coffee in the morning I usually have a cappuccino and a pastry either a butter croissant, a croissant filled with nice warm marmalade, a cookie, biscotti, an apple tartlet or a piece of crostata, etc...I think you get the picture, all delicious, all warm and made with butter.

3. I eat much too much pasta. In the U.S. a dish of pasta would be my entire dinner, here in Italy it is only the 1st course. It follows the antipasti and precedes the meat course. That's three courses when I am used to just one.

4. There are less soy products readily available here and so I eat less soy.

5. I eat dinner much later here than in the U.S. Dinner time is between 8 and 9 usually, when we head to Rome is can be as late as 10:30 p.m.

With all these new habits of mine, I blame no one but myself. I have chunked up a bit and now need to form new habits so as to lose the excess. I've decided on the South Beach Diet. I know 5 people personally who have lost weight on this diet and kept it off, it's more of an permanent change in your eating habits, I always eaten healthily but lately just too much. So wish me luck as I try to lose 10 pounds. The most difficult part of the diet is the first 2 weeks in which there is a whole slew of food you can't eat. I will miss the fruit, the dairy and the bread most of all. I keep thinking about the juicy, ruby pomegranate I had last week and drooling.

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At 7:30 AM, Anonymous J.Doe said...

When I get to the US I'm going to go on a diet too, and so far the South Beach Diet looks like a winner. I don't know if I'll do the Italian version though-probably. I've grown accustomed to the eating styles here, especially with the pasta.
It shows too :( I've gained. :(
What I really don't understand is why there are so many thin people with the first course, second course, contorno...

At 8:34 AM, Anonymous Laurie said...

Actually, most people I've noticed here don't do primo and secondo. They do one or the other. Used to be you got frowned at in restaurants for that, but no more. (You might get frowned at for other things....!)

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Eulinx said...

Yes, I am in the same situation!

In Italy, though, you don't always have primo and secondo, except in special occasions.
But do you really want to start a diet right before Christmas and miss all those panettone, pandoro, torrone, etc.?
I wouldn't think so!!
: )

At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Sabrina said...

Come ti capisco.... I have the same problem now, I got 2 Kg in 10 months.
After 6 months in Singapore, where I changed my eating habit a lot and 4 months in Denmark, where I eat dinner late with colleagues, there is a lot of cream in all dishes... I always eat out because I am staying in a hotel and I cannot cook, I usually eat starter, main course and sometimes dessert... when in Stockholm I am used to eat only one dish. I feel so fine when I am at home during the weekend and I cook healthy and light food and I do not eat that much...
I had to buy new trousers... it is really uncomfortable when you feel that your cloths are too tight...

I think I also have to begin reorganize my eating habits when I am not at home.


At 5:01 AM, Blogger american girl in italy said...

OK, you have inspired me to go back on my diet. When I first moved here, I went on a diet and lost about 6 - 7 kilos. Now, after numerous trips back to the states, and many visitors here, I have put it back on.

My diet was great - customized for me by Franco. (He is the master of diets)

For lunch and dinner I ate a small portion of pasta (30 grams) and a piece of meat or cheese (100 grams) and then vedura. All the fresh greens or healthy veggies I wanted (within reason) hehe But not - corn, potatoes, carrots, heavy starch veggies are not allowed.

Then once a week I could have my cheat day and eat cake or whatever I wanted. It worked great. I lost about a half to a kilo a week.

This worked great for me because I didn't have to cook anything special, and we ate the same meals, I just ate less.

I really want to lose again, before my 40th b-day!!!

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Sara said...

Good luck to you! I can imagine it would be difficult to watch your weight, with all that wonderful food around you.

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Alicat said...

Good Luck!! I am on a diet too..:( bleh. lol

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Knit Chick said...

I read up on South Beach and Atkins and all those diets, but wasn't too fond of them. The diet that I tried (to lose 25 lbs by my wedding date - AND DID!) was the G.I. Diet. Glycemic Index. Lots of fiber and no white pasta or flour (WHOLE WHEAT IS A-OK), no starches and no sugar.... It was tough, because there is sugar in a lot of things, but in the end - I looked the way I wanted to on my wedding day!) GIDIET.COM - you should check it out. Also - on amazon.com there are 2 books that are good for this diet - by Rick Gallop. I own "The GI Diet" and "Living w/the GI Diet". Two very good books. Can still cook normally - just substitute breads and pasta from white flour to whole wheat/whole grain, etc! Maybe this is a better option for you! I started in March 2005 and by September 18th I lost 25 lbs! Email me if you have any other questions! And good luck with whatever you choose!

At 4:52 PM, Blogger crazysalad said...

Oh, I gained weight in Italy, too, for many of the reasons you so perceptively noted: eating caffeine laden, sugary breakfasts (which send your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride);too much pasta, eating late at night (ugh, going to sleep on a full stomach is the worst). I noticed many of my Italian friends rarely ate 3-course meals (usually only one), but I couldn't resist all that good food. Once you have lived there for a while (ie, more than a year) that probably changes.

Good luck!

At 10:03 PM, Blogger Trish said...

Gosh, I don't think you need to go on a diet, I think you look great! But maybe watch how much you eat if you are worried about your weight. Good luck with your changing eating habits!

Take care and have a great week!

At 4:31 AM, Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

I think the South Beach diet is a bit like mine, which was recommended because I have a genetic cholesterol problem. Mine works if I exercise and eat breakfast, and doesn't if I don't.
No pasta, no bread, no wine. No juices. Live culture yogurt or fresh cheese, any vegetables I want, fruit very sparingly if at all. Breakfast is the hardest for me, but I do like Wasa crispbreads with formaggio fresco, so that's what I eat. I also limit protein servings to 100 g. Whole grains like farro and orzo are absolutely required.
Does that sound like?
Anyway, since I am much older than you are, it takes a lot longer to see results and weight loss looks aging for a while, so I choose to stay a bit heavier than I once was. When I very gradually get off this, I find I eat much much less and am in the habit of enjoying exercise.

At 5:04 AM, Anonymous LM said...

Good Luck! I've never done a diet...but I have had to cook for many friends and family on South Beach. Frittatas will become your best friend! As well as bean-based and tomato-based soups.

At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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