We had a special visitor during our diet group today, our colleague from Rome, Dr. Antonella Montano. During the meeting she talked about her impressions of food in America and the differences between here and Rome. Antonella reported that she was SHOCKED when she went to a US supermarket. She said in Italy, they have one or two varieties for most products, and the sizes are much smaller than in America. She was staggered by how many types of bread, snack food, cakes, and soda there were. For some products, like ice cream, Antonella couldn’t believe how big the containers are that you can buy. They don’t sell ½ gallon cartons of ice cream in Italy because people don’t eat that much! As Antonella says, in order to successfully handle the US supermarkets, “You have to be a warrior!” Because there are fewer options and smaller packages in Italy, making the right food decisions is easier there.
Antonella also pointed out some other differences in eating between Italy and the
U.S. She ordered a salad at a restaurant yesterday and said that this single U.S. serving would have been enough for five people in Italy. Also, in Italy they only put lemon, vinegar, and a small amount of oil on their salads, “not blue cheese dressing!” She further noted that in Italy, children are taught from the onset that you eat three meals a day, and maybe a small snack in between. There’s no eating all day in Italy as we sometimes do in America. In fact, restaurants often close between lunch and dinner, which forces people to stick to a more normal eating schedule. Antonella was surprised that you can get huge meals 24 hours a day in America. “You can always find a place to get extra food. In Italy it’s not like that.”
We learned a lot from Antonella. We Americans tend to think our abnormally large portions are normal. Then when we restrict our eating to lose weight, we feel deprived (a problem dieters learn to cope with on Day 22 of The Beck Diet Solution)—instead of realizing that we are finally having the same reasonably-sized portions as much of the rest of the world.