Question:

I’m headed to Italy for two weeks on vacation. While I want to indulge a bit on wine, pasta, and pizza, I don’t want to lose all the gains I have made. What is your advice for a calorie responsible, yet delectable, Italian vacation?

– Jim J.

Answer:

  • Italian food can be the model of a Mediterranean diet if it includes fresh vegetables, fish, fruit and nuts.

    Here are my tips for traveling or dining out Italian-style:

    • Look for primavera dishes and those with frutti di mare (seafood) or beans.
    • Limit cured meats like pancetta, prosciutto, and bacon.
    • Keep wine intake close to the amount you consume at home. It’s possible to taste a variety of wines without having a full 6 fl. oz. glass of each!
    • Skip the bread before/with meals, except for regional items (e.g., Pane Toscano, Coppia Ferrarese, or Pane di Segale).
    • For pasta, eat small portions while indulging in specialty sauces and toppings.
    • Keep cheese as a flavoring and topping, not the main ingredient. Sorry, lasagna!

    The point is to only “spend” your calories on something that’s unique for that venue. In buona salute!

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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