Techniques to help Americans change their eating habits and lead a healthier lifestyle are always in the news. The most recent being the concept of mindfulness, using a common meditation technique as a nutritional tool that you can use to manage portions, pay attention to choices and just slow down a bit. Mindful eating or the concept of sitting down at the table in a relaxed and convivial manner to enjoy the unfolding sequence of a meal has always been part of the Italian lifestyle. For most of us this style of eating is a lost art. Finding it again has the potential to improve the quality of our lives and a greater appreciation for what we eat.
We believe that “mindful eating” really is an extension of the traditional Italian concept of eating in courses and by its nature fosters portion control starting with the antipasto or pinzimonio of fresh vegetables dipped in extra virgin olive oil – a little something before the meal to control your appetite. Next, the primo piatto or first course with a small portion of pasta or risotto followed by the secondo piatto, a protein (beef, pork, fish, chicken, rabbit) once again generally a right-sized portion served with a contorno, vegetable side. A small green salad simply dressed with a vinaigrette is often served at the end of the meal to improve digestion.
Food placement or how we eat our meals is heavily based on cultural habits and the Italian style of eating in a certain sequence tends to make you pay more attention to your food as each course is an event. The “Italian model” is a mindful approach to how you eat your meals and following it may surprise you how your portion sizes and choices change when you simply become more aware of what you’re eating.