So you have completely abandoned yourself to the delights of “La dolce vita” ? At first it was one extra glass of Chianti, the pastries and the gelato ..and now.. all of a sudden- you are trying to figure out if the washing machine is shrinking your clothes or if the weighting scale is broken!!- CAPITA! On average a student abroad gains around 7kg a year!

Between the natural curiosity of discovering or rediscovering a new cuisine, the challenges of being independent in a foreign country, the limited time to cook/ exercise, the joys of eating out, snacking and the partying which lead to those late night munchies etc. It’s no surprise one might pack some expat fat!

You may have picked up some wrong nutritional habits along the way that may be contributing to those extra pounds.

Here are the TOP 6 waist expanding habits you may have picked up:

  1. One too many cappuccinos!: General rule in Italy: NEVER order a cappuccino after 11 am – and there is a good reason for that! – 1 cup of foamy cappuccino contains 150ml of full fat milk which is around 95 kcal, plus the amount of sugar an individual uses- es. 5g , thats around an extra 115kcal per cup.

Solution: Make your cappuccinos/latte macchiato at home using partially skimmed milk, when outside prefer ordering a caffe’ macchiato (less milk) and becarful of how much sugar is used . (P.s. there is no difference calorie wise between white and brown sugar)

  1. Eating Bread with Pasta: think of it, the standard portion of a plate of pasta is 100g, which is roughly 353 kcal, meanwhile a standard portion of a piece of bread ranges from 40-50 g, meaning that 2 pieces weighing 50g are around an extra 265 kcal.

Solution: Avoid pre-meal snacking, choose snacks low in calories es. A carrot !

If you chose to have a piece of bread along with your pasta, reduce your portion size! General example: 100g of pasta/rice can be substituted with 50g Tuscan bread (with no salt) and 70g pasta.

  1. Too much parmisan in your pasta: Freshly grated parmesan cheese on your pasta is a slice of heaven! Parmesan cheese has soo many benefits, rich in calcium and lactose free, it definately adds flavour to any dish- but along with the flavour come the calories! In fact the standard portion size used to season your plate is 10g (1 regular spoon).

Solution: Use herbs in order to enrich your pasta such as basilico, garlic, onions etc.

Instead of randomly pouring the parmesan, use a regular spoon in order to regulate the amount of cheese you are using.

If you wish- you can mix 50g of parmesan with your pasta and consider it as a main course-therefore skipping the second course (meat, fish, cheese, legumes)

  1. Abundant use of Olive oil: Even though olive oil (oro verde) is one of the few accepted condiments in Italy- and unarguably just impossible to resist, again- too much can definitely increase your daily calorie intake, paradoxically you may be using way too much even on your “super light” salads- the daily recommended intake of Olive oil is around 30-40g (3-4 spoons) so be careful not to exceed.

Solution: Use herbs ,spices, balsamic vinegar and lemons in order to enrich the taste of your salads and meals!

  1. Too much alcohol: Consider that a glass of red wine contains around 82kcal, while a beer can contain any were from 120-200 kcal and a margherita alone is 400kcals!!

Solution:  a moderation of  the amount of alcohol consumed is a great start when one wants to get in shape! The general recommendation is 1 glass of wine/die for females and 2 glasses of wine/die for males  (I will get more into this in my next Blog!)

  1. Skipping meals: When living abroad- between the late nights out/in studying, hectic class schedules etc. It’s reasonable to say that our timetable tends to become disorganized, and so does our eating pattern- long hours without eating causes our insulin levels to drop causing excessive snacking and huge meals, therefore more calories!

Solution:  Eat 4-5 portion-controlled, balanced meals every 3-4 hours throughout the day (3 main meals and 2 healthy low kcal snacks such as yogurt, fruit or a packet of low salt, plain and preferably whole wheat crackers (regular portion size is 30g)

Always find 20-30 minutes in your hectic schedule to have breakfast, lunch and dinner, consider preparing the meals a night before.

The good news is that it’s never too late to turn things around! By adjusting these few common mistakes as well as incorporating a daily 30-40 minute jog into your routine, preferably around the arno river or up and down the piazzale michealangelo-  you are bound to shake off those extra pounds!

Article by:

Farah Daaboul Clinical Dietitian
Facebook: Dott.ssa Farah Daaboul


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