Healthy living Italian style

I just returned home from my two week vacation visiting the Positano village off the Almalfi coast in Italy and I am already having major withdrawals from the fresh sea food and breath taking hiking trails.  No doubt that John Steinbeck had it right when he said “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”  Our villa overlooking the Mediterranean was surrounded by Italian houses and restaurants stacked like building blocks on the steep inclining mountains running alongside the sea.  

The center of the village, a mere 10 minute walk from our villa was overflowing with art galleries, luxurious hotels, and stores carrying fashion items one would imagine Julie Roberts to wear.  Italian school boys playing soccer without shoes kicked balls with each other outside churches and old ladies hung brightly colored garments on hanging lines above the narrow, winding steps. I liked how the city managed to preserve a certain sense of authenticity that set it apart from the cookie cutter nature of the tourism industry.  I had a deep sense of gratitude for the refreshing absence of Holiday Inns, fast food chain restaurants, and vendors selling cheap goods, which are unfortunately an integral part of other tourist towns.

Aside from the overwhelming beauty of Positano, my two week excursion marked the beginning of my summer quest to live healthy.  Mornings tasting fruit from the tree, afternoons hiking up endless stairs along the coast, and dinners eating exotic sea food and homemade pasta reminded me that healthy living doesn’t have to be a chore. 

In retrospect, I realize my last month in France was filled with a sense of urgency, an unsettling feeling that I needed to experience ever taste of the city before I left for good.  The day of my flight I ate two pain aux chocolates, a giant baguette, and a box of cookies to savor the taste of a city that I never wanted to forget.  However once the bread was gone and just the crumbs remained, I realized that you can’t preserve the taste of food or experience by consuming it in excess.  Eating the extra food did not make me have a greater appreciation for France. It did give me a stomach ache and left me with a reminder that any behavior used without moderation throws our sense of health and well being out of balance.

Shortly after I left France I realized I needed to start making some major changes in my diet.  After weeks of indulging in carbs and sugar, my digestive system was in shambles.  I did some research which indicated that I might have IBS causing my digestive system to digest certain foods inefficiently.   My stomach problems I experienced were most likely caused from an access of dairy, gluten, and processed foods. 

To get started on the right track again I began taking probiotics designed to increase the healthy bacteria in my stomach to decrease bloating and stomach pains and regulate my digestion.   By the end of my trip in Italy I was a new woman: my skin cleared, my stomach felt normal, and my fatigue dissipated.  I returned to the United States feeling capable and confident in my ability to create new healthy habits.