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The Italian Art of Being Well

A National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach shares her thoughts on the Italian lifestyle that fosters health and wellness.

Marianna Cuomo Maier of Grata Wellness.

Marianna Cuomo Maier of Grata Wellness.

When you think about Italian cuisine, you probably think about pizza, pasta, burrata, and other delicious Italian dishes. Yet, authentic Italian cuisine focuses on nutritious whole foods, mindful eating, and the value of a shared meal experience. The authentic Italian lifestyle embodies optimal health and wellness by embracing an active lifestyle, focusing on fresh, healthful foods, prioritizing leisure, and valuing time with loved ones. It’s no wonder that many Italians live longer, happier lives.

My name is Marianna Cuomo Maier, and I am a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach, blogger, and wellness expert. I founded Grata Wellness, a coaching platform and blog with a mission to empower individuals to take daily actions that improve their lifestyles, boost confidence, and achieve their goals sustainably. I chose the name Grata inspired by the Italian root for gratitude as it’s a powerful tool to shift our mindset and view life from a perspective of gratitude.

I was recently inspired by the essay on Italian cuisine by Appetito’s Andrew Cotto in his piece To Be Well, Eat Italian, which presents the ways in which Italians naturally prioritize health and wellness. I especially agree with his statement: “I’ll take a good Italian meal with people I care about over just about anything in the world.”

Here is my addendum to his thoughtful analysis. 

Being of Italian heritage and visiting Italy regularly throughout my childhood and in recent years, the Italian lifestyle has had a profound impact on me. In general, Italians live vibrant, active, happy lives, which are key ingredients in the recipe for health and longevity. Health and longevity require a comprehensive approach: nourishment, consistent physical activity, leisure, nurturing social interactions, and laughter. 

Research shows that the Mediterranean way of eating is one of the best choices because it focuses on plant-based whole foods and healthy fats. Clinical evidence has proven its benefit in lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This emphasis on high-quality, nutritious whole foods extends to the fact that in Italy food is often seasonal and locally sourced if not truly farm-to-table. Much of the food that we eat in the U.S. has lower nutrient content and is frequently ultra-processed, containing chemical preservatives, sugar, and fat that are inflammatory.

Mealtime in Italy is not simply a time to satisfy one’s appetite. Italians treat meals as an occasion, gathering as a family or group for late lunches and dinner. Rather than eating fast food while driving, walking, or scrolling on phones, Italians eat mindfully and create an ambiance that is conducive to healthful digestion and a sense of satisfaction.

Many Italians live an active lifestyle and walk throughout their day. Una passeggiata in the morning sunshine or in the evening, regular daily walking has numerous health benefits for mind and body.

Rest and leisure are crucial to productivity and happiness. Italians prioritize daily coffee breaks or an after-work aperitivo, and they cherish vacations. Each of us can strive to take time each day to focus on our mental and physical well-being. For some ideas on how to implement rest and leisure in your day, check out my blog with tips for what to do when you have nothing to do.

Perhaps nothing is more important in Italian culture than the people. Expressing love and affection and making time to nurture relationships are key. We can all laugh a little more, keep things in perspective, and fully enjoy life's pleasures.


For more personalized guidance and support, please send an email to marianna@gratawellness.com or book a coaching consultation to begin your wellness journey today.

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