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Ask Giada: Why Do I Feel Physically Better Eating in Italy?

02 January 2024
by Giada

Ask Giada: Why Do I Feel Physically Better Eating in Italy?

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Giada gives us her take on an age-old question

If you’ve ever traveled to Italy, chances are eating was one of the highlight activities. From pasta and pizza to gelato, Italy is often seen as the land of culinary indulgence—the kind of indulgence that can make one feel sluggish here in the U.S. But, so often upon finishing an Italian meal of antipasti, pasta, and a sweet dolce, we’re still filled with boundless energy and ready to see the sights.

One of the most common questions we get here at Giadzy is this: Why do we feel so much better when we eat in Italy than when we’re home in the States? So, we asked our resident Italian for her take on this phenomenon. Here, Giada explains why eating in Italy feels so much better.

Giada at a river in Abruzzo 

There are a few reasons why eating in Italy can make you feel so different from eating in the U.S., and the quality of Italian ingredients just might be the biggest one. It’s one of the reasons that it was so important to me to have our Giadzy pastas made in Abruzzo with high-quality Italian ingredients; I don’t just want the pasta to taste good, I want it to make you feel good, too! Even many packaged Italian foods are made with simple, natural ingredients, with far fewer additives or chemical processes than similar foods in the U.S. They don’t last as long on the shelf, but the tradeoff is that they’re much kinder to your body.

When you’re eating in a restaurant in Italy, it’s more likely that they’re cooking with raw ingredients that have been grown in a way that’s kinder to the earth, with an emphasis on quality over quantity. These earth-friendly farming practices can create more nutritious produce, with higher levels of antioxidants. And you can’t forget about the heart-healthy olive oils they cook with!

The second reason is seasonality. In Italy, you’re much more likely to see menus change to reflect what’s in seasonyou won’t find many caprese salads on the menu in February! Not only does this mean you’re getting higher-quality produce, restaurants don’t have to add a lot of extra stuff when they’re cooking to make the food taste good. Right now, you’ll see a lot of restaurants serving winter crops like the bitter greens cicoria or puntarelle, simply sauteed or cooked with a little garlic and lots of olive oil. These greens are very high in vitamin A, which is just what our bodies need in the cold winter months.

Giada in a Bolognese market

But the biggest difference you’ll see is the way Italians think about portion sizes. Pasta is one of the biggest culprits; I feel like every time I come home from Italy and order pasta here, I’m shocked by how much I’m served! In Italy, pasta is served as a small course before your meat or fish, not as a huge entree on its own. This tradition of primi and secondi means you end up eating a wider variety of foods at every meal, which our bodies appreciate.

Finally, I believe that eating foods you’re excited about surrounded by the people you most enjoy really helps you feel better in your body. In Italy, eating is an act of joy and togetherness, not obligation. Sometimes, food that we think is “healthy” doesn’t actually satisfy us in a lasting way. The Italian concept of la dolce vita is central to our philosophy at Giadzy, but it’s more than just a catchphrase! For us, eating nutritious, delicious food in the company of family and friends is a huge part of feeling satisfied and happy throughout your day. 

This month, we’re focusing on the Italian way of wholeness in all aspects of life, which I think is a really important concept to highlight. Loving what we put in our bodies, our home spaces, how we move and take care of ourselvesit all makes a huge difference, both mentally and physically.

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