What Is a Typical Italian Diet?

Medically Reviewed on 10/1/2021

The Italian diet

Italian food is known the world over for being tasty and colorful. Italians give a lot of importance to fresh ingredients. They use seasonal ingredients to prepare meals.
Italian food is known the world over for being tasty and colorful. Italians give a lot of importance to fresh ingredients. They use seasonal ingredients to prepare meals.

Italian food is known the world over for being tasty and colorful. A typical Italian diet consists of three meals in a day. The most common foods in the Italian diet include pasta, cheese, vegetables, olive oil, meats, and wine. Italians give a lot of importance to fresh ingredients. They use seasonal ingredients to prepare meals.

The Italian diet consists of breakfast (colazione), lunch (pranzo), and dinner (cena). In addition, Italians also have a snack (merenda) in the mid-afternoon.

Italians consider food an essential part of their lives. They use mealtime to bond with friends and family. Most bonding takes place while taking lunch, the most important meal in the Italian diet.

Different types of food are popular in different regions of Italy:

  1. North Italy. The region is known for loving rice, potatoes, cheese, fish, pork, and sausage.
  2. Central Italy. The region is known for loving pizza and spaghetti.
  3. South Italy. The region is known for loving olives, olive oil, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, ricotta, artichokes, and eggplant.

During the winter, the Italian diet may consist of lasagne verdi al forno, polenta pasticciata, and brown bean soup. When Easter comes, the diet changes to lighter foods like crostini and pastry. During the summer, vitello tonnato is quite popular. Vitello tonnato is cold veal with tuna fish sauce.

Italian cuisine is known for its wide variety of foods. People associate Italian food with:

  • Italy's contribution to gastronomy and culinary arts
  • Unchanged dishes and food recipes over the years
  • World recognition of Italian foods like pizza and pasta
  • Preservation of local and regional food traditions
  • Incorporation of social interaction and fun with eating

Italian cheese

Cheese plays a massive role in an Italian diet. The types of cheese you can find in Italian cuisine include:

  • Mozzarella is used on any type of pastry
  • Parmiggiano is usually used as a hard, dried cheese usually grated as a seasoning in or on other foods.
  • Ricotta is eaten fresh in desserts or with spinach to make gnocchi.
  • Mascarpone, a thick, creamy cheese, can be used in any dessert.
  • Bel paese is a famous blue mold cheese.
  • Provoloni, pecorino are two kinds of cheese that get spicier as they dry.

Breakfast

Breakfast is the first meal of the day. In the Italian diet, breakfast is usually a light meal consisting of coffee with cookies or bread and rolls. Children get warm milk instead of coffee. Other foods that may include croissants or other bread and pastry.

Lunch

Lunch is taken quite seriously in Italy. It is a time to bond with friends and family. Some shops even close for people to go to lunch. It is also the most important meal of the day. Pranzo will usually consist of two courses. 

The first course is called antipasto. It consists of pasta, risotto, or soup. The second course consists of meat or fish. The Italian diet usually includes coffee or an alcoholic drink consumed while eating and even after finishing the meal. Family members and friends continue having a good time.

Dinner

Italian dinners consume a lot of time. This is the special time families gather for the last meal of the day. Just like the pranzo or lunch, dinner goes on for two hours and has four or five courses.

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The Italian formal course

When there are guests, Italians serve a formal set of courses. This formal meal is longer than regular lunches and dinners. The meal consists of:

  • Aperitivo includes foods like olives, nuts, cheese, and wine to create an appetite.
  • Insalata, a salad with raw or cooked vegetables
  • Formaggi E Frutta, cheese and some seasonal fruits
  • Dolce, sweet foods like pie, cake, tiramisu, and panna cotta
  • Coffee is served without sugar or milk
  • Digestivo consists of an alcoholic drink (mostly brandy), and a fruit or herbal drink.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/1/2021
References

Dey. S, Italian Foods for Dinner with Meal Courses, The World Book, 2021.

Journal of Business Management and Economic Research: “Italian Cuisine: Characteristics and Effects.”

The International Center: “TOUR DE FOOD: CULINARY CUSTOMS IN FRANCE, ITALY & SPAIN.”