Topic 7 Healthy Eating Guide For Italia

  • The Italian nutrition guide was renewed in 2019. There are 13 recommendations in this guide.
  • The 13 recommendations are divided into four blocks. The first is about energy balance. The second is about foods that should be consumed more, such as fruits and vegetables. The third is about critical foods in the current diet that should be consumed less, such as fat, salt, sugar, and alcohol. Furthermore, the last block is about what needs to be done to ensure a varied, safe, healthy, and sustainable diet.
  • Your weight mainly depends on you. You do not need to be weighed every day, but just do it about once a month, paying attention to any variations.
  • If you are overweight: reduce your energy “input” by eating less and preferring low-calorie and filling foods such as fruits and vegetables; more physical activity increases energy “output”; Properly distribute your food intake throughout the day, starting with breakfast, which should not be neglected.
  • Get used to moving more every day: walk, use the stairs, do small chores, etc.
  • Avoid diets that are almost always nutritionally unbalanced (for example, single-food diets and those based almost entirely on protein) or extreme (for example, meal replacements or prolonged fasting). A good weight loss diet should always include all foods as balanced as possible.
  • If you need to lose weight, set yourself a goal of reducing fat mass in favor of lean mass, rather than obsessively focusing on the number on the scale.

Fruits and vegetables

  • It is recommended to consume five portions of vegetables and fruits every day. 2 of these five portions should be vegetables and three should be fruit.
  • Why should we consume fruits and vegetables?
    • Because they have a low energy density, meaning that they provide fewer calories per unit.
    • They are a good source of fiber
    • They are an important source of vitamins and minerals.
    • They contain antioxidants

Grains and legumes

  • Consuming 2-4 portions of legumes per week is recommended for a varied and balanced diet.
  • Why do we need to consume more legumes?
    • Legumes are an integral part of a healthy diet because they are good sources of vegetable protein, fiber, and micronutrients. There is an inverse relationship between legume consumption and the risk of chronic degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and some types of cancer.

Water

  • For adults, daily water consumption of 2000-2500 milliliters is recommended. Children are recommended to drink
    • 800 ml/day at 6-12 months old,
    • 1200 ml/day at 1-3 years old,
    • 1600 ml/day at 4-6 years old,
    • And 1800 ml/day at 7-10 years old.
  • It should be noted that children are at a higher risk of dehydration compared to adults.

Fats

  • According to the latest recommendations, fats should not exceed 35% of the total daily calorie intake in the diet. Regarding their distribution, the recommended amount is as follows:
    • Saturated fatty acids: no more than 10% of total calories in a 2000 kcal diet, about 22g (200 kcal).
    • Polyunsaturated fatty acids: 5% to 10% of total calories in a 2000 kcal diet, 11-22g (100-200kcal) (4-8% as omega-6 and 0.5-2% as omega-3).
    • Monounsaturated fatty acids: about 10-15% of total calories by difference, i.e., 22-33g (200-300kcal) in a 2000 kcal diet
    • Cholesterol: less than 300 mg per day
  • Prefer vegetable oils and especially extra virgin olive oil.
  • Eat fresh and frozen fish and other fish products (at least 2-3 times a week), preferring local bluefish. Remember that fish oil is mostly under the skin, so choosing small skin-fed fish is also beneficial for fat intake.
  • Prefer lean meats and remove any visible fat before cooking.
  • Drink a glass of milk or yoghurt every day, preferably semi-skimmed, that retains calcium and protein content.
  • Cheeses contain highly variable amounts of fat: Opt for those with less fat content, eat them in reasonable amounts.

Sugars, Sugary drinks, Sweeteners

  • Limit your sugar intake by reducing the teaspoons of sugar you add to drinks, sweets, and desserts, but do not cut back on your fruit or milk intake regardless of sugar content, as it is essential for your health.
  • Limit the consumption of sugary drinks as much as possible: The extra calories they contain can cause you to gain weight and negatively affect your health.
  • Among sweet foods, choose baked goods such as biscuits and unfilled cakes that contain less fat and sugar and more starch. Remember that ice cream has less calories than other desserts, but be careful not to overconsume it.
  • Limit the consumption of foods that contain much sugar and stick to the teeth, especially soft candies and nougats. However, be sure to brush your teeth after every meal or snack.
  • If you want to consume low-calorie foods and beverages that contain sweeteners, check the type of sweetener and the warnings on the label. It is best to avoid consuming products containing the same sweetener regularly. Be careful about the consumption of sweetened food products in children and pregnant women.

Salt

  • Gradually reduce salt consumption both at the table and in the kitchen; add less salt to pasta (no more than a teaspoon per liter of water) and salads.
  • Do not add salt to baby food at least for the first year.
  • Limit the use of alternative seasonings (bouillon cubes, ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, etc.) that contain salt.
  • Choose low-salt product groups when possible (salt-free bread, low-salt canned tuna, etc.).
  • Use iodized salt.

Why should we reduce salt consumption?

  • Consumption of large amounts of salt can lead to the onset of arterial hypertension, which is a crucial risk factor for stroke and diseases related to the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys.
  • High salt consumption is also associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer, greater calcium loss with the urine, and therefore a greater risk of osteoporosis.
  • Reducing salt consumption is one of the measures that need to be taken to prevent the aforementioned diseases.

Alcoholic beverages

  • A maximum of 2 alcoholic drinks per day for adult men,
  • A maximum of 1 alcoholic drink per day for persons over 65 and women,
  • And alcoholic beverages for those under 18 is not recommended.