Believe it or not, most Italians still cook and eat their meals at home. This style of eating –Mediterranean cuisine + cooked at home + shared with company—leads to a more normal calorie intake, which is why according to cross-cultural survey research, Italians for the most part still enjoy a ‘normal’ body shape, and lower levels of obesity as compared with the US—without over-exerting themselves in a gymn. Of course, as a more global influence takes over, Italians are trying their best to resist the push for American fast food. If you don’t already cook the majority of your meals at home, it is time to pull out your cookware, because our own two hands are responsible for our weight, shape, and good health. Cooking should not be looked upon as drudgery, but rather as a sensual, therapeutic, and creative experience–that leads to vibrancy. Think of the joy of placing your masterpiece on the table and onto the plates of those who will adore you for it. If you live alone, invite someone over to eat with you at least once a week. There is no comparison between the fresh food flavors in southern Italian cooking, and the stagnant tastes of canned or packaged foods that make up so much of our American diet. If you’re wondering where you’ll get access to Italian ingredients, you don’t have to worry. Most can be found in your neighborhood supermarket. I also advise clients to look in the phonebook to locate Italian specialty import markets in their neighborhood. It is an amazing experience to walk through the door of this kind of market (often still of the mom and pop variety, where shopping comes with a personal touch) and being welcomed by the aroma of fine cheeses, fresh baked bread, rich espresso coffee, and olive marinades. It’s like having a little piece of Italy your own back yard. I enjoy these markets immensely, and I think you will too. Another way to eat fresh is to grow some of your food—even if just a few tomato and basil plants– in a garden of your own. You can begin to prepare now, for a garden that will bring you peace, joy, and health all summer long. Nothing compares to the energy you will feel from eating fresh foods. Italy’s Slow Food Movement-now an international movement—is a more official way to remind us to preserve solid traditional eating habits, by encouraging us to stick to seasonal fresh local farm produce if we can’t grow our own, preserve heirloom seeds, and stay away from genetically modified foods and preservatives. Buon appetito!