The secret to a healthy life in the U.S.? It may be to act like you live somewhere else, according to longevity researchers 1 .
Italian women are on the list of the healthiest women in the world 2 . They also have an amazing natural beauty. So, here in this article, we will give you some tips how to eat like an Italian woman.
The popular Mediterranean diet has been associated with a longer life and a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease 3 . The Italian diet includes good fats (nuts, fish, olive oil) lean proteins, antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits, and a moderate amount of good Italian wine.
Of course, this does not mean diving into a never-ending pasta bowl – it’s all about knowing when to say basta (enough).
How to Eat and Life Like an Italian Woman
Italy is home to some of the best food in the world, from moreish pizzas and heavenly cheeses to divine linguine and a seemingly endless range of fine wines and gelato. It is also the birthplace of beautiful women, including screen icons Monica Belluci and Sophia Loren. And, what is the secret to enjoying la dolce vita?
- Cook with love – treat food with passion
Sophia Loren often says that she loves to cook for the people she loves. As an Italian – I couldn’t agree more! I do all my own cooking – old recipes, new recipes, everything! As a professional nutritionist, my advice is that every woman should find the time and try to prepare homemade meals as much as possible, because homemade dishes are healthier, and significant part of every well-balanced diet.
According to Michelin chef Luisa Marelli Valazza, you should always cook with a clear head, passion, perseverance, and respect for your family and/or guests.
2. Linger over lunch
Italians eat for hours because it’s so much more than just eating. How an individual eats, the way someone eats or does not eat, or just eats lesser – tells you so much about them, says Monica Bellucci in an interview for the Stylist magazine.
3. Learn from your mother
My nonna Angela always used to say: “the most important man in your life, after your husband – is your butcher”. She taught me how to choose the right piece of meat. Today, I don’t consume meat – but I will never forget her advice. My mother is an excellent cook – she taught me how to cook and recognize, and fell the smell of the meals because a meal can send you to many places. Now, every time I prepare friteli, the smell takes me to a carnival in Venice.
4. Keep it simple
The best thing about Italian recipes is that most of them are simple and straightforward. However, simple is hard to achieve – because you do not have all the elements to hide behind. Lidia Bastianich, an American-Italian TV chef, recommends “spaghetti al’olio” (oil and garlic) that is hard to do because you can actually burn the garlic.
5. Make it a family affair – embrace the group vibe
My earliest memories are of us all in the kitchen, making pizzas, or shaping pasta dough. At some special occasions, we still get all the generations in the same kitchen, working together. This is healthy for the psychological development of every person, can also treat depression, and of course, an excellent way to strengthen family relationships and spend time together.
6. Use lots of olive oil
We have a special article about the health benefits and importance of olive oil in the Italian kitchen (you can read more about it here: LINK), but we should not skip it here, as well, because it plays a great part in the Italian cooking and many people in Italy are making olive oil at home. Moreover, women use olive oil as a cosmetic product, too. I have very dry skin and I use extra virgin olive oil as a night face cream.
7. Buy local and seasonal – It’s all about natural produce
It is not only about buying organic fresh foods, which then, translated into healthy stuff for your skin and body, but it’s also about looking people in their eyes who have grown that food, and being part of the Italian community. There is nothing better like fresh onion, garlic, tomato, or basil. Just feel the smell – amazing!
8. It’s all in the quality
It’s all about the way you eat. You may eat many things but eat good things. I cannot accept the fact to starve all day long – it would definitely put me in a bad mood.”, says Elisabetta Canalis (an Italian actress and model). Always try to buy quality Italian ingredients – as extra virgin olive oil, quality pasta, and pasata.
9. Size your portions
Most people in the U.S. eat too large portion sizes – that is the biggest problem! Italians have been consuming pasta for centuries and they’ve never been an obese nation.
Italians eat pizza, pasta, different cheeses, but in small portion sizes. So, it all has to do with how much you eat. My advice would be to always weigh the pasta before you cook it. The average portion of pasta is about 75 to 80 grams, and individuals will often consume about 150 to 200 grams.
10. Use healthy pasta sauces
Always stick to the healthy sauce. You can make your own homemade pasata (an Italian tomato sauce) with fresh, organic tomatoes, and prepare a great sugo with pecorino cheese…. The taste of canella, basilco, garlic or/and onion, and olio di peperoncino…mmm…molto gustoso!
11. Seafood rules supreme
Seafood is rich in nutrients, and serves as a good source of vitamins, minerals, and protein, and is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This food is very low in calories and fat. You can include seafood in your healthy diet and prepare yourself a portion of past with some seafood. This is a very appreciated and expensive dish in many restaurants in Italy.
12. Pepper your pasta with veggies
Italians love vegetable pasta dishes, especially in summer – pasta with eggplant – delicious! You can include pasta with vegetables in you balanced diet. I recommend you to prepare minestrone (a thick soup made with vegetables, often with the addition of rice or pasta), and lasagna with eggplant and with other veggies.
As a nutritionist, I always recommend a well-balanced diet with lots of organic fruits and vegetables. And as an Italian – I will advise you to eat pasta, pizza, mozzarella, seafood, or grana Padano in moderate amounts. Find more about why Italians don’t get fat: http://yourhealthtube.com/secret-italians-dont-get-fat/
Always try to prepare a homemade dish as much as you can – just like an Italian woman! Homemade cooking and a healthy diet are two key things for healthier and happier life with your family and friends.