Eat Pasta Responsibly on the Mediterranean Diet
Pasta is one of the best parts of the Mediterranean diet. But, pasta is one of those foods that can be part of a healthy diet or can become a not-so-healthy problem. People in the United States and Canada typically eat pasta in large portion sizes and with high-calorie sauces, which can contribute to weight gain.
Keeping pasta healthy is a fine line, but if you stick to the following tips, you can enjoy your pasta, keep your figure, and stay in good health:
Watch your portion sizes closely. Pasta is most commonly a side dish in the Mediterranean. Keep your portion sizes at between 1/2 cup and 1 cup to avoid eating too many calories and to keep your blood sugar stable. This strategy helps you stay trim and keeps your heart healthy.
Avoid eating heavy entrees with heavy side dishes. If you’re eating pasta with a heavier, higher-fat and -calorie sauce (such as a béchamel sauce), make sure the rest of your meal is on the light side, like a simple salad.
Add a little protein. If you’re eating an entree that includes pasta, make sure you have some protein as well. This addition may mean including seafood or meat in your pasta or having nuts and beans in a side salad. Adding protein provides a more balanced meal and helps maintain stable blood sugar.
Don’t fill up on just pasta. You don’t want to eat a large amount of pasta at once. Instead, load up your small portion of pasta with proteins and lots of fresh vegetables so that you still feel like you have a hearty entree.
Imagine 1/2 cup of pasta with tomato sauce on a plate compared to 1/2 cup of pasta mixed with broccoli, carrots, and chicken. The latter makes a larger volume of food without filling up an entire dish with pasta.
Don’t overcook your pasta. In Italy, pasta is always cooked al dente, firm to the teeth but tender for chewing. Cooking your pasta al dente is actually a healthier way to eat because doing so makes the pasta have a lower glycemic index (the pasta doesn’t spike your blood sugar as quickly).