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How to eat balanced in Italy

I normally eat a well balanced diet. We will be in hotels, so won't be grocery shopping for meals. I know or have read how rich the Italian meals can be. How do you manage to get enough fiber, and eat well for 10 days so you don't feel ill, over bloated or...ok...constipated? I usually eat oatmeal every morning, watch the simple carbs. I'm hoping that restaurants do have plenty of fresh veggies, fruit, salads if you just need a light meal? I've cut out pasta almost completely the past 5 months...but will make an exception ion vacation! Just don't want to overdo eating bad foods then not feel well. How do you manage it?

Posted by
1068 posts

I usually just order what I want from the menu. If I'm not eating much carbs.... I don't order the pasta.

Posted by
8210 posts

I'm type II diabetic, and even eating a little pasta on my last trip to Italy, my blood sugar hasn't been lower in years.
They use so many fresh vegetables in their dishes and salads are part of many meals.
If anything the Italians' big meals are far, far too many courses for my simple tastes. We didn't eat that way.
After all, you're controlling your fork. And you won't have any problem eating as you desire in Italy.

Posted by
3580 posts

I've had some really good salads in Italy. Fruit is available in stores and produce stands. You can visit a grocery store and buy cereal. Take some with you to breakfast.

Posted by
15998 posts

Italians eat healthier than Americans, IMHO, and walk more as well so I wouldn't worry about it. Pasta isn't necessarily bad: it's eating the entire giant plate of it often served in the U.S. that's the problem. Everything in moderation… :O)

If your hotels provide breakfast, fruits, granola and fiber-rich, packaged 'health' breads and crackers are usually on the buffet table. You won't have any problem finding salads, vegetables, meat and fish entrees and other non-pasta offerings in restaurants.

With all the walking you're going to do, I wouldn't worry about regularity! My husband I always lose weight on our European trips because of the miles and miles we walk every day, and regularity has never been an issue. In fact, I always pack Imodium in case we run into the opposite problem.

Posted by
4999 posts

We also try to eat "right" but we are also "foodies". Our doctor said that what you eat all the time is what gets you in trouble -- on vacation just eat as you wish and enjoy. So we try to take lots of vacations.

Posted by
30 posts

Don't worry about it. I always lose weight in Italy while eating two big meals at lunch and dinner. The portions are smaller than in the US and I find that eating slowly, in courses, besides being more civilized is much healthier. Your body has time to digest and I never get that bloated feeling like in the US. Just enjoy and walk a lot.

Posted by
16724 posts

We find it easier to eat healthy meals in Italy than many other countries. Breakfast is the toughest---small hotels may have a simple buffet with just croissants, rolls, etc. and jam and butter. That is what the Italians eat for breakfast. I look for granola or muesli and yogurt. If there none, I buy my own.

For lunch, we usually skip a restaurant meal to save time and money. My husband picks up a small sandwich from a bar, and I make do with nuts or cheese and fruit from the grocery ( no bread for me as I eat gluten-free). Then there is the 4 pm gelato stop. . . . One scoop each, chocolate for him and coconut for me.

For dinner we like to eat well at a nice place, but only have two courses each, plus a bottle of wine ( to share---not a bottle each!!!) I order a vegetable-based antipasto followed by fish from the "secondi" selections; he gets a protein antipasto followed by a pasta dish from the "primi.". Often we will split a vegetable side from the "contorni" selections. No dessert. This works for us but I always come home a few pounds lighter after each trip.

If you are concerned about fiber you might bring along a few fiber-rich energy bars just in case.

Posted by
2768 posts

Yes, you should be fine. Most hotel breakfasts have fresh fruit as well as the usual pastries. Also, remember you can always stop in a grocery or a market (like a farmers market) for in season fruits or veggies. I do this occasionally - make a light lunch from fruit, vegetables, and a small bit of cheese or bread from a market. It's a good reset for if I get carried away and order unhealthy meals too often. Restaurants usually have light choices as well, but sometimes I go for the heavy options more than necessary!

Posted by
14166 posts

You may be surprised at how "light" you can eat. I am vegan and find plenty to eat. I will say that last year I ate so much zucchini and eggplant on my Fall trip I still can hardly stomach them! If the pasta was made without egg, I would often order it along with a side of roasted veggies to put over it for dinner. Often a huge salad or excellent soup for lunch. I don't remember if you are going to be in Tuscany, but I got the best Farro and bean soups there. Really amazing. If you feel like things are not "moving thru" like you need them to, lol, get some of the bean-based dishes/soups. So delicious. (Now I am in the mood for Farro and Bean soup!)

I agree with having gelato (or in my case, sorbet) in the afternoon! Do try some of the fall flavors of sorbet. The pear and green apple flavors were unbelievable. I was going to try fig in one place but the guy ran out...had no more figs on the tree in his yard so that flavor was done.

Posted by
7400 posts

The amount of walking will take care of most potential issues. Italy is my favorite country for foods because there's so many vegetables. Select 1-2 items from the menu - not a course from each section. Be aware that the bread will be amazing. : ) I would advise packing some high-fiber granola bars, in case, to help you feel better.

I did have one evening in Siena when I wasn't feeling well - migraine headache. My husband talked to the outdoor waiter, and he offered to add extra veggies to the typical salad which was much appreciated for a simple meal.

Posted by
524 posts

Thanks all...I feel much better reading your posts!

Posted by
500 posts

Well, I feel it is the other way round. I am Italian and I always wonder how to eat balanced out of Italy....

Posted by
232 posts

You won't believe how great the fruits and vegetables are. Someone told me that only ripe fruit can be sold by law (possible urban legend) even fruit that feels like it is stone hard is ripe and juicy!

Posted by
9784 posts

Yes, I was going to say - it's a lot easier to eat balanced meals and healthy food in Italy than it is in the U.S.!!!

Posted by
1420 posts

salads are sometimes "hidden" on the appetizer listing.....
just a warning, tho, I ordered vegetables in one restaurant and got an enormous pile of ones deep fat fried in a tempura-like batter
However, isn't eating balanced in Italy Gelato in one hand and Wine in the other?

Posted by
15998 posts

My diet goes right out the window in Italy. And it's HUGE fun!!!

Posted by
1625 posts

I think we actually ate healthier on our Italy trip. There was always a mix grilled veggie on the menu (Last page usually), Salads (my husband fell in love with his ensalada misto, which I have now recreated at home most nights), sandwiches with no mayo, smaller pizza slices choosing two slices of difference flavors. We also loved to order mussels, which usually came in a big pot of about 40 for like 12€ and there was usually a fish option which could be deep fried (yum) or grilled. Plus, like someone else mentioned, all the walking really regulates your body. We both ate and drank what we wanted and we both lost weight and felt in better shape at the end of our trip.

Posted by
2619 posts

I also eat a well-balanced diet--at home. In Europe I eat all sorts of things I normally have no interest in, plus find myself needing more food in general due to the amount of walking and activity. As much as I hate looking for bathrooms when travelling I find the one thing that keeps me regular is drinking enough water. And I always bring metamucil--can't hurt and might help.

Posted by
15648 posts

I just try to include all the four major food groups: vino, gelato, pasta, and gelato