For a healthy, glowing complexion, what we put into our bodies is just as important as what we put on our skin. Nobody knows this better than Paola Maggiulli, a self-care cookery teacher and Italian food expert who explores the link between physical, mental and emotional wellbeing through the beauty of home cooking.

After leaving a toxic workplace and the closure of her family’s deli, Paola started to use cooking as a self-care ritual. Now, she’s dedicated to not only teaching people how to prepare food, but also how to love themselves with healthier eating habits by “integrating the Mediterranean diet and dolce-vita lifestyle”.

We love natural, Italian ingredients just as much as we love natural, Italian skincare, so we were excited to catch up with Paola about the art of self-care and how she connects with herself and her culture through food.

Whats does self care mean to you?

It means everything. It’s the most important thing in my life, and it’s what I prioritise every day. Cooking started my self-care journey, and now it’s had a ripple effect in other areas of my life. Plan it in my diary every day, and I block it out as I would with any work appointment.

It involves movement, a healthy breakfast, and journaling. It’s about prioritising what my body and mind need to have the most energetic and productive day.

Self-care is also about loving yourself, feeling confident in your own skin and becoming a better version of yourself. Non-negotiables include bright lipstick, a fab outfit and gold hoops, even if I’m only walking to the corner shop, and I also love a solo date with myself. 

 

However, this didn’t all happen overnight. It’s taken a while to get here. But the important thing to remember is that it’s not about finding a quick fix;  it’s about small habits that build up to a lifestyle change and loving yourself enough to know that you’re worth making the time for. There isn’t an exact formula that everyone can follow. You have to find out what works for you. But I do believe that if you neglect healthy eating habits, cooking is a great place to start, and the results are life-changing.

Do you have any skincare/wellness elements that you integrate into your self-care routine?
I do, indeed. I invest in good quality day and night moisturiser as I discovered that your skin needs nourishing too. I wear SPF every day, and I love a vitamin C serum. Recently I have added face yoga to my bedtime routine, and it also helps me wind down before I go to bed, which helps me sleep better.

Skincare is just one part of looking after your complexion, along with food and lifestyle. Do you have any tips for foods that promote a healthy glow?
You are what you eat, and I live by the Mediterranean diet – Though I don’t think of it as a diet as it’s not restrictive at all. It’s all about balance. Eating more fresh food, good quality ingredients. Lots of veggies, fruits, olive oil, legumes, fish, nuts, dairy, and meat with a good balance of pasta, rice and grains. And who doesn’t like a cheeky ice cream to totally indulge in now and again?

Essentially though, limit the amount of ultra-processed and convenient food. It’s full of crap that our bodies were never meant to process. There are so many studies now proving that it can negatively impact both our physical and mental well-being. So why would you feed yourself food that is doing you more harm than good? Being restrictive is not the answer to healthy eating, but knowing how to balance out what you eat is key. 

 

In your opinion, in which part of Italy can you find the best food?
I am going to be biased here, but it has to be Southern Italy, especially Puglia. That’s where my dad is from, and it’s now where I live half of the year. Its cooking is based on the Mediterranean diet, and I’m not just talking about only olive oil. There is such a deep appreciation for good quality ingredients. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available on most street corners.

There is still love and support for local food independents, helping you create a better connection with the food you’re buying, along with local vendors advising on what’s best to eat and how to eat it.

Eating nourishing, delicious food is far more accessible due to its cooking and food culture.

 

If you had to choose one Antipasti, one Primi, and one Dessert to have for the rest of your life, what would they be? This is sooo hard as I eat along with the seasons – a very Italian way of cooking, So what I enjoy eating in the winter isn’t necessarily what I would enjoy in the summer. Also, it all depends on my mood.

But if I had to choose today…

Antipasti  – Peach, buffalo mozzarella, and basil salad

Primo – a seafood linguine with mussels, prawns, squid, lots of chilli and garlic. 

Dessert – Pistachio ice cream 

I enjoy really simple dishes but using the best in quality ingredients. You can taste the goodness, and it makes me so happy.

 

Overall, what do you hope people take away from the food you cook and the content you create?

I want people to remember how important they are in this crazy fast, busy world we now live in. To not neglect their personal self-care needs. To love themselves and realise that eating healthy, nourishing delicious food is a great way to do this daily…

Cooking doesn’t have to feel like a chore and doesn’t have to be that deep or always be a beautiful masterpiece. It’s all about loving yourself with goodness, making yourself happy and enjoying a beautiful, balanced life because we are on this planet for a short while, so let’s make sure we are living our best lives by taking care of ourselves.

Paola portraits: ph. Emily Scarlett Romain

Stay a while.

The coffee’s hot 🪑

Stay a while.

The coffee’s hot 🪑

Stay a while.

The coffee’s hot 🪑

Stay a while.

The coffee’s hot 🪑

Stay a while.

The coffee’s hot 🪑

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