Yes, you read that right: you can eat Italian food and be skinny.

No gimmicks or fad diets included – just living that great Italian lifestyle, complete with pizza, pasta, and gelato.

Italy is officially the slimmest country in Europe with the lowest average body mass index (BMI) rating of 24.3. France, which is notorious for its heavy meals and thin people, lands just behind it with an average BMI of 24.5, according to a report from the BBC.

In comparison, the average BMI in the US, according to the CDC is 26.6. While that sounds close to Italy’s 24.3, the reality is that it’s not. A rating of 26.6 will land you in the “overweight” category no matter your age, height, or gender. Whereas a rating of 24.3 will land you in the “healthy” category. Interested in learning about what your BMI is? Use this BMI calculator.

Here are nine easy ways to be skinny by living the Italian lifestyle:

Lesson 1: Drink Fresh Juice

how to be skinny by eating like an italian: drink freshly squeezed juice

Fresh juice machines are a staple in Italian cafes, and for good reason. Unlike processed and packaged juice, fresh juice is, well, fresh, which not only tastes better but is better for you. There’s no added sugar, no preservatives, and fresh;y squeezed juice is more nutrient-rich.

In short, skip the pre-packaged juices and if you want a juice go fresh instead.

Note: Also, go small! You wouldn’t see an Italian gulping down a 20oz juice (that’s 55 grams of sugar!). Think of how small juice cups are at old school diners, and go for that type of size.

Lesson 2: Skip the Afternoon Coffee (Get Espresso Instead)

how to be skinny by eating like an italian: choose espresso over coffee

Coffee, or a cafe in Italian, comes with milk and Italian don’t drink heavy milk in the afternoon. Instead, when they want a caffeine kick, they opt for an espresso. There’s a lot more to those tiny little espresso cups than meets the eyes, but what you won’t find is milk in espresso.

Basically, if it’s the afternoon go bottoms up on a shot of caffeine instead of a heavy, milky coffee.

Lesson 3: Eat Local & In-Season

how to be skinny by eating like an italian: eat locally sourced food

Back in the day you could only at foods that were produced near you, and therefore you only ate foods that were also in-season. In the global marketplace we live in, we’re not able to go to our local store and get items from all over the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Of course, it will be difficult for most to eat only locally-sourced foods, but at least choose foods that are in-season. Not only will the food simply taste better, but it will likely have fewer pesticides and chemicals. This is because foods that are grown in-season are a lot easier to produce compared to foods grown out of season.

(Photo was taken at Restaurant Ziqù at Villa Marina Capri – I highly recommend eating and staying there!)

Lesson 4: Drink Red Wine With Heavy Meals

how to be skinny by eating like an italian: drink old word red wine with meals

Red wines help aid in the digestion of heavy foods such as meats and starches. Italy is known for its vast consumption of red wine, and so is its neighbor, France. Both of which have lower-than-average body mass index ratings (BMI).

One study found that the link between the meat and starch-heavy diet of the French and their low percent body fat was that culturally it was the norm to drink red wine with heavy meals. Turns out (old world) red wine helps the body break down red meats and starches, such as potatoes, helping the body to more easily digest it, and therefore helping you keep your weight down.

Note: Not all red wines are created equal. Simply buying a red to pair with your steak and potatoes won’t necessarily help you. What you need is an old world red from, say, Italy or France.

Lesson 5: Eat Meat Last

how to be skinny by eating like an italian: eat meat last

You read that correctly. I didn’t say don’t eat meat, I said eat meat last. Why? Italians understand how digestion works, and you might be surprised to know that the order in which we eat food plays a big role in how our bodies are able to digest it. By eating meat last, you’re helping your body be able to more easily digest the otherwise difficult to break-down meats, which can help you stay slim.

Lesson 6: Save the Shots for Last (aka “Digestivo”)

how to be skinny by eating like an italian: take after dinner shots

Shots before dinner is a rookie move, but shots after dinner is a very Italian move. It’s one that is not only a good time but also good for you. Known as a digestif, or digestivo, an after-dinner shot is common in Italy because, well, as the name infers, it aids in digestion. Because yes, as unglamorous as it sounds, it’s all about digestion.

Lesson 7: Eat Ice Cream (But Order a Small)

how to be skinny by eating like an italian: get small ice creams

Living large doesn’t always mean going big. Sometimes it means getting that ice cream (ahem. gelato) but getting it in a small cup. The concept of portion control is simple, so I won’t get into that, but when you’re in Italy the sizes are super small. And that’s a good thing because it means you can eat your ice cream while staying skinny.

Take this approach to all foods and you’ll likely be skinny (or at least skinnier).

Tip: Only eat ice cream out. The reason being, portion control is a lot easier when you order a small Why? You simply only have a small portion available to eat. Whereas, if you buy a whole pint (or gallon) of ice cream to have at home, you’ll have a lot more difficult of a time trying to eat small portions.

Be Skinny By Living Like an Italian Lesson: Take the Stairs

how to be skinny: take the stairs

Elevators are a luxury, not a staple in Italian buildings. After all, many were built centuries ago, long before electricity. But even when there’s an elevator present, many Italians still take the stairs.

Why? It keeps you healthy!

It’s a simple habit that if you get into, you’ll get into better shape …and help keep off those pasta pounds.

Be Skinny By Living Like an Italian Lesson: Go for a Stroll

be skinny: go for walks

Italian culture really knows how to live in the present and enjoy every moment. You’ll often see young couples and elderly people waltzing around the city alike. Walking isn’t as much of a thing in the fast-paced American culture. But it should be.

Many studies claim that walking burns the same amount of calories as running one mile. It even comes with the added bonus of clearing your mind and adding peacefulness to your day.

Side note: This is my go-to backpack for traveling. It converts from a backpack to a tote bag, so it’s super versatile. In return, helping you cut back on the things you need to pack. All while also giving you the option to opt-out of looking like a tourist with a backpack. Get your Fjallraven Totepack (~$80).

What’s Next?

Book a flight!

…Ok, I know you can’t currently go to Italy, but you can still book a flight for a future date. Some of the best airlines are now offering flexible tickets, so you can cancel them later if need be.