An Italian Prescription for Fitness: Celebrate your Body and Relax Around Food

Italians treat meals as important occasions to be savored and enjoyed to the point of satisfaction, not discomfort. When you eat the way my southern Italian relatives eat (think Sophia), you naturally arrive at a sexy body almost as a bonus, because it comes without any of the suffering (cravings, hunger, unappetizing foods) you endure on normal weight loss diets.  Food doesn’t cause anxiety in the bel paese–in fact, quite the opposite.

Conscious relaxing around food, lets you enjoy mealtime to the max, and  can also help you diminish emotional eating as well as junk food cravings.

Cecilia Bartoli for example, is a real diva (in the operatic sense), who makes no apology for the enjoyment she gets from her food. The Italian born Bartoli, is drop-dead gorgeous. When she fills the stage with her sweet mezzo soprano vocals and larger than life acting ability, you can’t help but also notice how exquisitely feminine her shape is. Yet, according to her biographer, Manuela Hoelterhoff, Bartoli is known in Italian as a buona forchetta, which refers to a person who likes to finish what’s on their plate (the phrase, literally translated, means “a good fork”!).  Bartoli is proof that we can enjoy our food and still have a knockout figure. And incidentally, nowhere in Italy will you find an Enchantress who equates a knockout figure with looking gaunt or scrawny. Riccardo Dalle Grave, M.D., in his book “Perdere Peso Senza Perdere la Testa” (How to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Head) advises his readers, as well as his patients in Verona, to “think about attaining a healthy body as a way to better your life, and as a way to give pleasure to yourself and to others.”

Dr. Catello Matonti, president of the Italian Association for Ecological Medicine, credits Italy’s national cuisine (particularly that of southern Italy) for keeping Italian women in shape naturally. The beauty of this way of eating is that it offers maximum enjoyment, and if you don’t pollute it by adding junk food and sweets, there is little else you have to do to maintain a healthy weight.  When she wants to drop a few pounds, my Italian sisters give their diet a few minor tweaks for a few weeks, no big deal, and ease right back into their natural sexy shape.

Give this a try–plan simple, easy-to-make, meals for the rest of today. Meals must be high in nutrients (fruits, veggies, especially greens). Before you eat take a nice slow breath to the count of 4. Hold that breath for a count of 4, then release to a count of four. This is to get you, too, into the habit of slowing down and celebrating mealtime as a way to nourish your beautiful body and honor your beautiful soul  Buon appetite!

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