Why Italians eat better (and how you can too)

It's been a few months of living here in Italy, and although I'm still the "ragazza Canadese" (Canadian girl) to all of my Italian friends, I can't help but feel that I've learned a thing or two about being Italian.

Although I still have much to learn about being a true Italian, one thing is clear: Italians eat better than everyone else. This is pretty much a non-negotiable truth that any person who has visited Italy or any Italian would tell you without difficulty. Of course, the recipes and care that goes into making the food here are both truly astounding to your average North American like myself, HOWEVER, there are some very simple things Italians do that has me thinking -- why don't we eat the way Italians do??

Here are 6 ways Italians eat better than the rest of us that do not require moving to Italy or having any cooking skills whatsoever.

In other words, here's how you can live your best Italian culinary life from the comfort of your own home:

1. Prioritize eating fresh foods

Italians eat fresh foods on an everyday basis. No, frozen berries don't count. I mean fresh, *insert Joni Mitchell voice here* "spots on your apples," busting-with-flavour produce and products. I mean bread that tiny bakery on the street corner made this morning. On a budget? Check out their day-olds! It's still so delicious and more nutritionally valuable than your run-of-the-mill supermarket bread. When you eat a normal tomato or piece of cheese or a slice of bread in Italy, you can taste the difference between these foods and the foods you find in your average supermarket in North America. I'm talking Whole Foods level quality but everywhere, all of the time!
As if we needed another reason to support local!

2. Snacking well

Ok, ok. By "snacking well," I actually mean the opposite: Italians don't actually seem to snack much at all compared to the rest of us in North America. You don't catch your average Italian wishing their local smoothie joint had a drive-thru or snacking on the train to work. Why? Because, as you might imagine, Italians truly appreciate an opportunity to sit down and appreciate good food. No crappy snacks to get these folks through the day! For the most part, Italians would much rather wait it out until they can sit down and appreciate a deeeeelicious, nutritionally dense meal with loved ones.
I have to admit, parting with my snacking habits were rough at first, but I could never go back now that I've learned to wait for -- and savour -- mealtime.

3. Appreciating mealtime

No room for TV dinners here! The Italian way of eating involves tablecloths, a set table, multiple courses and plenty of choices when it comes to what to eat. According to a Harvard Health Publishing, an online magazine by Harvard Medical School, distracted, hurried eating may add pounds and take away pleasure. Remind me again why we still do TV dinners??
We all know the importance of practicing gratitude these days. This is one highly effective way to make it a daily practice. After all, we have to eat anyway! Why not be grateful and mindful while we're at it?!

4. Sharing meals with friends and family

Speaking of waiting for and savouring mealtime, this is something Italians do very well. No matter the menu or circumstance, mealtime is something to be appreciated and shared amongst Italians. Somehow, food just tastes better when it's shared with loved ones at a set table, amirite?!
Not only does this make for an epic meal no matter the menu, but it makes space for meaningful connection with the people we love most. In our world of tech and disconnection, this might be one of the most meaningful rituals we could hold on to (or create)!

5. Quality over quantity

In North America, we love our huge portions! Although we all have our preferred portion sizes (you do you, boo), this is one way I feel that Italians eat better than the rest of us. Instead of focussing on the quantity of food they eat, they value the ingredients, flavour and overall quality of their foods. Instead of eating until reaching a state of discomfort (see: food coma), Italians appreciate their foods, its nutritional value, the flavour it delivers and artistry that goes into their meals.
As a recovering XL poutine addict, I can confirm: quality truly does beat quantity. Every. Single. Time.

6. Support local

How do they have the best food ever? If you ask me, it comes down to a very simple answer: they support local production! Let me tell you, after living in Italy, I can confirm that it pays to support local for more than just your local economy's sake. Your average everyday fresh produce, breads, cheeses, meats and just about everything else you can find on the outside edges of a grocery store are 100x more flavourful and fresh in Italy, but you don't have to go to Whole Foods to find the same thing in North America! Check out your local farmer's markets and smaller grocery stores that support your local farmers and artisans. You may be surprised by just how delicious (and affordable!!) it can be!

Well, there you have it! The definitive list of ways I will adopt an "Italian" way of eating (and living) no matter where I live for the rest of my life. Why not give them a try? If you love them, let me know! Want more stuff like this? Tell me! There's lots more where this came from.

Of course, this post does not represent every single Italian and there are many ways of eating and living within this gorgeous country. But, from my experience, these are fairly universal -- and very admirable -- Italian traits! Did I miss anything? Let me know!

Until next time,