In the book Eat Pray Love, a true story based on one woman’s journey across the globe, we get to follow along as she eats, prays and loves her way through three very distinct countries. Starting August 13, women will be flocking to theaters to see and experience what this journey was really like as the film opens nationwide, starring Julia Roberts.
While we may not all be as carefree or brave as Elizabeth Gilbert, played by Julia Roberts, Eat Pray Love has its share of lessons that many of us can benefit from. In keeping with the three main themes of the book, which I myself read and loved, I wanted to share my advice and lessons that I gathered:
Elizabeth begins her journey in Italy. This is where she works through a large portion of her emotional turmoil and turns to food as many of us do to help her through the difficult time.
The fact that she is in Italy with delicious food surrounding her could only have made it that much easier. While food should never be your crutch, pasta and pizza are not the enemy. Carbohydrates are an essential part of one’s diet and by including whole grains and loads of fresh veggies, this hearty meal will keep you feeling full and happy!
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Greece is smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean region that is famous for its healthy diet. Cuisine rich in omega 3s, fresh fruit and vegetables is all about supporting optimal heart health. But now its citizens are ironically dealing with increased cases of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart problems. That’s because, like the U.S., they are also dealing with the unhealthy creep of soda machines and fast food restaurants in their neighborhoods.
Here’s an interesting and curious predicament: Greece, Italy, Spain and Morocco have actually asked UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to designate their diet as an “intangible piece of cultural heritage.” They are actually worried that their dietary heritage could be near extinction!
“This is a place where you’d see people who lived to 100, where people were all fit and trim,” Dr. Stagourakis said. “Now you see kids whose longevity is less than their parents’. That’s really scaring people.”
In Greece, three-quarters of the adult population is overweight or obese, the worst rate in Europe “by far,” according to the United Nations. Here’s more on the issue from The New York Times.
This morning on the Today Show, they discussed how three countries manage to stay fit and trim, while eating decadent foods. Japan, Italy and France are far fitter than the U.S., which ranks as the heaviest country in the world (sharing the #1 and #2 positions with Mexico).
So how do they do it? The general rule across all three of these countries: portion control. America lives in a super size world, and we’re about the only ones who do. Can you incorporate their eating methods into your diet?
They eat smaller amounts of protein. Their meals focus on fruits, vegetables and grains- and let the meat act as a side dish. The Japanese derive a lot of protein from soy sources. They also eat clear soups prior to a meal- which is filling and makes you less likely to over-indulge at meal time.
Again, smaller portions are the rule of thumb here. They eat smaller amounts of better quality food. So they are satisfied in both the amount they’ve eaten, and the flavor. The French also use a smaller sized plate than Americans.
The Italians also serve smaller portions at their meals. A standard serving of pasta is about 5oz., versus the 10oz. or more typical here in the States. Olive oil and red wine are common fare at meal time- they also eat the grapes and olives whole, which are good sources of antioxidants and good fatty acids.