In America, and many other areas of the world, it can be so easy to get caught up with food rules. Since the rise of the slim figure ideal, there have been so many diet fads and rules about what you can and can't eat that have been established in society for women and men. These ways of eating have been pressed on me by the people around me, social media, and worst of all, myself.
You probably have some idea what I'm talking about if you're reading this. And you know how it becomes such an issue when everything you eat is so calculated, limited and controlled!
It can greatly impact your mental health over time.
Being on my own in a different country has helped me see the bigger picture of food and remind me what it was originally meant for. In a city where walking long distances on a daily basis is the norm, and all of your food comes mostly from local markets, you remember that food is meant to give you energy.
Only having almond milk or alternative milk is a very good example of a prominent food rule that I strictly followed back home. Here these plant-based milks are not always offered at many cafes for my daily cappuccino. Of course, it is a different situation if you are lactose intolerant, but I made that rule for myself due to "less fat content" and the idea that it would make me slimmer.
However, the real milk has even been very good for my digestive system as sometimes I would still go for the over-processed plant milks that sit in my stomach and cause bloating. There's a good chance that I will go back to drinking these milks back home due to America's corrupt milk production, but maybe now I will not be so against the idea of milk with fat in it.
Another rule that used to hinder my eating was avoiding heavy carbs. As you can imagine, this food group is almost impossible to avoid in Italy. This scared me at first, and as a result, I made a pact with myself that I would still only make salads for dinner. But when the time came to buy and prepare meals, I quickly realized that pasta is not something I should avoid. In fact, it gives me the energy to walk around 7 miles per day and is the perfect cost-effective staple for my pantry here. The same goes for toast and sandwich bread!
There is so much more that I could speak on, but what I have learned is that the US food mentality often includes overthinking food far too much. Who knows why so many people have come to obsess over and let carbohydrates, fats, and proteins run their lives. I can't even tell you and it has affected me every day for the past four years. But I do know that I hope to bring home the Italian mentality in which food is for pleasure, culture, and energy. It is a daily habit that keeps you going throughout the day but is also meant to be very enjoyable.
And as for the fears of gaining weight, most of Italy's pasta is much better for you and more sustainable than any of the processed and prepackaged "health" food in the US. These Italians really know what's up.