The Guidelines for a Healthy Italian Diet have been developed by INRAN, the National Research Institute for Food and Nutrition.

Created with the intention of providing Italian citizens with precise indications regarding daily behaviour in the field of food, today we want to talk about food and 10 practical tips that can help each of us to eat properly. Do you want to find out what it is about? Then all you have to do is read on!

CHECK YOUR WEIGHT AND STAY ACTIVE AT ALL TIMES

Weighing once a month allows us to understand if we are in “energy balance”, or if the amount of energy that we introduce with food is then consumed. In this case the body weight will remain stable.

If you introduce more energy than you consume, the excess accumulates in the body in the form of fat, resulting in an increase in weight. If, on the other hand, less energy is introduced than is consumed, the body uses its fat reserves to meet its energy requirements. It is also useful to calculate your body mass index.

If the result is between 18.5 and 24.9, congratulations! You are normal weight! If not, contact your doctor or a specialist. Please note that these are reference values only for adults in physiological conditions.

Keeping active is essential for your health (both physical and mental): in addition to moving around throughout the day, for example by taking the stairs or getting off at a stop before the lift, it would be a good idea to do at least 30 minutes of scheduled physical activity 4-5 times a week.

PLUS CEREALS, LEGUMES, VEGETABLES AND FRUIT

Legumes, cereals, vegetables and fruit are excellent sources of fiber, essential for many physiological functions (the best known is certainly the regulation of intestinal transit), but also vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

As if that were not enough, it is now confirmed that a diet rich in legumes, cereals, vegetables and fruit, helps to protect against the appearance of different forms of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

FATS: CHOOSE QUALITY AND LIMIT QUANTITY

Fats provide energy: for the same weight, they provide more than twice as much (9 kcal/g) as carbohydrates and proteins (4 kcal/g). In addition, they help the absorption of certain vitamins and antioxidants, play an important role in the life of cells and in the “construction” of molecules such as hormones.

The effect of fats on health, however, can be very different depending on their composition: “saturated” fats are typical of products of animal origin, and cause an increase in blood cholesterol, “unsaturated” fats are found in vegetable oils (both seed and olive), cereals, dried fruit, olives and fish.

In the right doses, in addition to positive effects on the heart and circulation, they could play a role in the prevention of certain cancers.

SUGARS, SWEETS AND SUGARY DRINKS: WITHIN THE RIGHT LIMITS

Sugars are a very important source of energy, but, like sweeteners, they should be used as little as possible. Even with fruit and milk, the recommended intake limit of simple sugars is often reached.

When you want something sweet, it is best to choose simple baked goods (unfilled cakes, biscuits), possibly homemade.

DRINK PLENTY OF WATER EVERY DAY.

Our organism is composed of about 65% water. So it’s clear how important it is to drink at least 1.5-2 litres every day to feel good. Water is not substitutable with other drinks (which often contain sugars, sweeteners and nerves) and can be drunk at any time of the day (yes, drinking with meals does not make you fat and the water does not contain calories!).

In addition, choosing a water rich in calcium can be a good solution primarily for those who do not consume dairy products, but also for the general population: rarely the recommended intake of calcium is reached with the diet.

We are only halfway there! On page 2 you will find the other 5 guidelines for a healthy diet! What are you waiting for? Turn the page to find out more!

THE SALT? BEST FEW

In our diet there are many sources of sodium to the point that what is naturally contained in food is more than enough to cover the needs of the body.

If the diet is too rich in sodium, there is an increased risk of high blood pressure, but also of heart, blood vessel and kidney diseases. Therefore, reducing its consumption is almost always recommended: even if we have always eaten salty, we can accustom our palate to the reduction of salt, both at the table and in the kitchen.

ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: YES, BUT ONLY IN CONTROLLED QUANTITIES

Alcoholic beverages consist mainly of water and ethyl alcohol. Ethyl alcohol (or ethanol) is a substance foreign to the body and not essential, indeed in many ways toxic.

The human body is mostly able to withstand ethanol without evident damage, as long as it remains within the limits of what is meant by moderate consumption, i.e. no more than two to three Alcoholic Units (U.A.) per day for the man and no more than one-two for the woman.

Although it is not a nutrient, ethanol provides a large amount of calories (7 kcal/g) that are added to those provided by food and can therefore help to make us fat.

OFTEN VARY YOUR CHOICES AT THE TABLE

The diet must provide our body with all the necessary nutrients. However, there is no such thing as a “complete” or “perfect” food, either as a natural product or as a processed product, that is capable of satisfying our nutritional needs on its own.

Consequently, the easiest and safest way to guarantee the supply of all the essential nutrients is to vary food choices as much as possible.

EXTRA ADVICE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN, CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY

There are some categories of people who should be considered more “at risk” of nutritional deficiencies, not because of diseases and not necessarily because of bad habits, but simply because of particular situations related to their age or peculiar physiological conditions. These are pregnant and breastfeeding women, school-age children and young people, adolescents and the elderly. In all these cases it may be useful to contact a specialist.

THE SAFETY OF YOUR FOOD ALSO DEPENDS ON YOU.

Today’s consumers are increasingly attentive to food safety issues. In this respect:

  • Food may contain intentionally added additives, regulated and controlled by official bodies.
  • Elderly people, infants, children and pregnant women must completely avoid the consumption of raw or poorly cooked animal foods.
  • Pay attention to home-made preserves (especially in oil or brine) which must be prepared according to strict hygiene rules. A suspicious preserve should never be tasted.
  • Do not let a cooked food cool outside the refrigerator for too long and without covering it. It should be placed in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking (one hour in summer).
  • Do not defrost food of animal origin at room temperature. If they cannot be cooked directly, place them in the refrigerator in advance or put them to defrost in the microwave.
  • Place the food in the refrigerator according to these instructions.

That’s all, these are the 10 basic indications for a healthy and correct diet.