Pasta! Pizza! Gelato! Wine! How the heck do they stay so skinny?!?
I know I know it’s crazy, but there really isn’t a secret. There isn’t anything magical in their wine (at least not for this). The truth is, their lifestyle is just different.
For example, when I lived in America I tried to watch my figure. I went to the gym after work and obsessed over calories. When I first moved to Italy, however, I never went to the gym and I never counted calories. I pretty much ate what I want and didn’t really see a difference in my weight. In fact, I lost a little bit of weight.
So, how do they do it?
Well, there isn’t just one easy answer. It is an array of factors that contribute to it. Over the course of living here, I have understood some key differences between the Italian and American lifestyle.
(Please keep in mind, I am comparing the typical American and the typical Italian. Obviously not everyone falls into these categories. Although, I have yet to see an obese Italian).
#1 Normal Portions
I’m sure you have heard all over the news that portion sizes in America are out of control. Well, it’s true. If you go out to eat in Italy, apart from some particular restaurants, you will see that the portion you receive is noticeably different than the portion you receive in the States. In fact, doggie bags aren’t even common in Italy because you don’t really need one.
Furthermore, refills are not free (bummer, but good for the health), and the size of their soft drinks and other groceries are much smaller.
The exception here is pizza. It is common for everyone to order their own pizza instead of a slice or a big one to share. While you might find yourself chowing down on a whole pizza, you don’t have to feel guilty. The pizza here is different, it isn’t as greasy. So eat your heart out! 🙂
#2 No Elevator
Many of the houses in Italy are practically ancient, so there is no elevator. When I first moved here, I lived on the top floor of a 5 story building. You know I got a work out going up and down those steps! Plus, it curbs those cravings because sometimes food just isn’t worth the effort to go out and get.
Even if a building has an elevator, Italians still have the mindset to take the stairs. In fact, my apartment now has an elevator, and still, I find myself taking the stairs more than the elevator unless I have groceries (or am just feeling lazy).
#3 No Air Conditioning
I know it might seem strange that this is a factor, and it is only a factor in the summer. Nevertheless, the natural effect of heat reduces the appetite. Since most Italian homes do not have A/C (and even if they do, they rarely turn it on), you can see your appetite reduce in summer. That’s what happened to me my first summer here.
(Note: This is the only positive aspect of No A/C)
#4 Lack of Fast Food and Frozen, Prepackaged Meals
Yes, there are some McDonald’s and Burger Kings sprinkled throughout Italy, but there isn’t a fast food restaurant on every corner.
Additionally, it’s not common for Italians to eat frozen, prepackaged meals. They take pride in their cooking and often cook fresh vegetables, meat, and pasta for dinner. I’m the only one of my roommates who eats the fast, ready-to-go frozen food from the grocery store. (I’m lazy.)
Italians love to walk. In fact, after a large meal, people will purposely go for a walk, which is something that I haven’t ever really experienced in the States.
Furthermore, you walk everywhere here. I always ride my bike or walk. Occasionally I take the bus or catch a ride in a friend’s car. If you do drive, though, chances are you won’t find a parking space directly out front, so you will still have to walk from where you park. Which is annoying, but helpful for the body.
In general, Italians have a different way of thinking when it comes to eating and exercising. They opt to take the stairs or walk when they can. They also tend to use fresh food and cook it themselves. They use olive oil instead of butter for their bread which is delicious and healthier.Many use only olive oil with just a little salt on their salad for the dressing. What Americans call Italian dressing doesn’t even exist here. I still haven’t adopted all of these methods (because I’m lazy), but often I am forced to.
Well, I hope that gives you some insight into the mystery of skinny Italians. I know it isn’t rocket science, but in America, we have become lazy and spoiled. It isn’t a bad thing necessarily, because yes, it makes life more convenient and comfortable. The trade off, though, is a bigger waistline.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments or contact form!