La Dolce Vita means The Sweet Life in the Italian language. I chose this phrase because the Mediterranean way of living is full of pleasure in measured doses. You can have the sweet life. You don’t need to deprive yourself of anything as long as you don’t overdo it.

Let’s talk about food. A Mediterranean diet is really a lifestyle of moderate indulgences. They don’t deprive themselves of anything. But portion sizes are much smaller in countries like Italy and France. Eating moderately sized portions will reduce the total number of calories you intake per day. Start by eating a fourth less than you usually do. Your tummy won’t really miss it. Our portion sizes in the U.S. are a habit more than anything else. You won’t starve. It’ll get you started in the right direction.

People in Italy also don’t make a habit of snacking between meals. Their meals are full of vegetables and whole foods, nothing processed or pre-packaged. They stay satisfied longer as a result.

Food is prepared with as few ingredients as necessary. They like to taste the real food, not disguise it with heavy sauces and condiments.

When they want dessert, they usually reach for some fruit, or a cookie or two, or some cheese. Coffee is a small espresso, instead of a venti mocha latte. One of my favorite Italian desserts is called Affogato. It is a small serving of vanilla gelato with espresso poured over the top and some crushed amaretto cookies as topping. Simple, delicious, and small.

Think of ways you can moderately indulge. Instead of eating a candy bar, try one fabulously decadent truffle with a glass of wine or tea. If the truffle is scrumptious enough, you won’t miss eating an entire Snickers bar.

Have an espresso with a twist of lemon instead of a sugary milky coffee. Drink it slowly. Savor it.

In the evening, have a glass of mineral water with a lemon or lime slice. Sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty. Or bored.

Start a new relationship with food.

Revel in the beauty of food and drink. Don’t disguise it. Love it for what it truly is. Experience its purity. A salad with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil is heaven. Biting into a ripe juicy tomato is divine. Watching the sunset while sipping a glass of wine is what life is all about.

Buon appetito.

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