Studies have shown that the Mediterranean lifestyle — including diet and day-to-day living — is one of the healthiest on the planet. It has also been shown that the Mediterranean lifestyle is portable. You don’t have to live on a remote Italian or Greek island to benefit from its goodness. You can live like an Italian anywhere. Let’s pretend you live in Italy. You’ll be healthier for it and you’ll find the true meaning of la dolce vita.

Here are 21 ways to pretend you live in Italy.

  1. Learn to love cooking.
  2. Share your meals with loved ones.
  3. Be passionate about everything from food to music to sunsets to la passeggiata (the evening stroll).
  4. Eat and live slowly. Savor your food and enjoy mealtime.
  5. Keep recipes simple. Use few ingredients but make sure they are in season and fresh.
  6. Don’t smother your pasta with cheesy sauces.
  7. Share food preparation duties. I love to enjoy a glass of wine while chopping and dicing. Share the joy of cooking with your guests.
  8. Some of my happiest memories were made around the kitchen table. Time in the kitchen can be therapeutic. Use the time and the food to heal.
  9. Eat lots of vegetables and fish.
  10. Use olive oil in the kitchen and also for beauty. It’s great for the skin, lips and hair.
  11. Play up your eyes with makeup.
  12. Learn how to wear a scarf like a pro.
  13. Buy good quality leather shoes and you’ll never have to “break them in.”
  14. Show some cleavage.
  15. Grow some of your own food and buy local when possible.
  16. Get to know your butcher, your farmer, your grocer, your local chef, and the older people in your community.
  17. Eat in courses of small portions and spread your meals out over time.
  18. Have fruit for dessert instead of sugary treats.
  19. Have a glass (or two) of wine, not a bottle of wine.
  20. Drink lots of water.
  21. Love well and true.

The Mediterranean lifestyle is about more than food. It’s about passion and truth: real food, real friends. It’s about taking the time to do things right, like growing your own vegetables and simmering a soup. It’s about the love of doing simple things, not thinking of them as chores.

Pretend you live in Italy. Bring the Mediterranean lifestyle into your home.