Julia Roberts Does the Pizza Diet for Eat, Pray, Love

If you’ve ever been to Italy, you know that it’s easy to gain weight. Stupidly easy. Sure, the Mediterranean diet is a healthy way to eat, but a steady intake of pizza, pasta, bread and cheese is not quite it. And for North Americans who think authentic Italian food is what’s offered on a Domino’s menu, Italy is heavenly mecca of the most amazing flavours a palate could ever experience.

So, it’s not surprising, then, that even skinny minny Julia Roberts packed on the pounds while filming Eat, Pray, Love in Rome. She blames the pizza.

“If you look at any of the scenes of eating, by the end of the scene, I’m done eating,” she told Entertainment Weekly Magazine. “Like in the scene with the pizza, by the time the scene is over, I’ve eaten the entire piece. When we were in Naples, we started shooting at eight in the morning, and I think by 8:45 I’d eaten eight or 10 pieces of pizza. Pizza was what I ate all day that day.”

Sounds delightful, don’t you think?

Roberts admitted she gained about seven to 10 pounds, but she got lucky. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author who Julia portrays in the movie, walked away 30 pounds heavier when she left Italy after four months. Ouch.

Roberts points out that her movie bosses didn’t mind the weight gain, since it made the whole experience more authentic “I didn’t want people to say, ‘Well, she’s supposed to go to Italy and eat all this food, but she looks the same in the whole thing’. “[Talking to director Ryan Murphy,] I said, ‘What do we do?’ And he said, ‘By the time Liz got to Italy, she was so underweight that the weight she put on really got her back to normal and then a little bit more.'”

Yes, a diet of pizza, pasta and Gilbert’s personal favorite — gelato — would inevitably lead to a fair amount of excess weight, but if you ask Gilbert, that’s not the point. For her, food was nourishment for a broken soul after a bitter divorce. Of her spiritual journey that took her from Italy to India and then onto Indonesia, Gilbert told Bon Apetit Magazine, “I wouldn’t have had the strength for all the meditation if I hadn’t been well fed. I needed to eat food that made me happy. You can’t accomplish anything until you’ve eaten.”

Eating for happiness? In a culture so obsessed with the numbers on the scale, it seems that concept has largely eluded us. These days, so many people are more likely to binge eat for comfort and starve to make themselves happy — a vicious cycle that eventually does neither.

I’d say Gilbert has the right idea, so maybe the Pizza Diet isn’t such an unhealthy indulgence after all. What do you think?