subscribe Signup for our Newsletter expand Expand Browser
Calorie Count Blog

Why Are The Italian People Slim?


By clairelaine on Feb 26, 2010 12:00 PM in Recipes

Italians are statistically among the slimmest people in the world, with only ten percent of the population in the obese range.  How can that be?  Italian food is famously delicious, and when served in other countries, the portions are huge. Italians don't eat breakfast.  So how can they break all the rules and still end up with so little obesity? Today we are going to find out how people living in Italy stay so slim.

When tourists go to Italy, the restaurants sell them what they expect, and they never see how an Italian family has everyday meals.  Is there a difference in what they eat?  How do they manage to drink red wine with meals?  There must be some striking differences in how ordinary Italians eat and what we think of as Italian Food.  What is it that they do and we don't? 

Breakfast is very simple, just a cup of coffee and a hard roll perhaps with jam.  Some people take a break mid morning for another cup of coffee.  Breakfast is not considered the most important meal of the day.  Pasta is served every single day and olive oil is used liberally. 

They break our diet rules such as no breakfast, eating pasta (and I'm not talking whole wheat here) every day, and they also use olive oil liberally.  How can they do this and have so little obesity in the general population?  We're going to find out, starting with a description of lunch and dinner in a modern Italian household.

Lunch and dinner are sit down meals served at a set table. The first course of pasta or soup is served in a small portion, about one cup, as a first course.  Most Italian families have pasta every day at either lunch or dinner. 

If you look at the organization of the second course, you will see a moderate portion of fish, poultry or, rarely, meat, and several side dishes of vegetables.  The meal finishes with a refreshing leafy green salad simply dressed with olive oil and vinegar.  Dessert is not served, but fruit, nuts and cheese are often brought to the table.  You might see a bowl of good olives and a basket of hard bread on the table, but no butter.  Red wine is usually cut with sparkling mineral water and is taken in moderation. Portions are modest and the variety of vegetable side dishes is endless. In some households, instead of cooking an evening meal, a tray of cheeses, meats, olives and fruits is brought out.

All methods of cooking are employed such as grilling, roasting and stewing. For instance, In mountainous Abruzzo a traditional lamb stew with fresh herbs is a popular winter dish.  Many modern kitchens, especially in the country,  have a wood burning grill and a brick oven just off the kitchen.

So that's what they eat.  What else do they do?  Both lunch and dinner are unhurried with plenty of conversation.  People linger at the table talking.  After lunch, people take a rest, then return to work or school.  After dinner they take a stroll for an hour or so.  People chat, children play, people smile and some stop for a small drink.  Light exercise seems to be enough for city dwellers, and do remember, most things in smaller towns are within walking distance so people walk more.  On a rainy day they might watch television.  No snacks or drinks are served.

Now what have we learned?  First of all, the stereotypical huge, rich meals that are so famous are only served on special occassions.  They keep portions reasonable and eat from all the food groups.  They take their time eating and enjoy the company as well as the food. Also, they don't eat many sweets. 

And there you have it. 

You can read more about real Italian meals in

I've chosen a few typical Italian foods from the recipes submitted by Calorie Count Members and found them using the Recipe Browser.



Comments


Well, what about lifestyle?  How much walking are they doing a day?  I know when I lived in France I walked everywhere and frequently.  Our fridge was  smaller therefore calling for more trips to the market.  Ingredients were purchased fresh also requiring more trips to the market - daily in the case of a baguette.  I ate much richer foods with a minimum of 4 courses.  Unlike the Italians the portions were smaller.  Yet, I weighed a lot less because of the active lifestyle. 

The funniest part of the whole deal was the idea that taking exercise was a given with my friends regardless if anyone smoked. 

Reviewing a countries' weight by the diet and declaring "skinniness" is a wee bit unrealistic.   

 



its very nice to eat in that way Laughing



Italians, like many european and south american countries, don't sit around all night watching television.  2-3 hours a night Canadian/Americans watch television on the couch.   



As a Registered Dietitian and as a chronic dieter who loves to live in the moment vs be a plannner, I find this topic so interesting. Back in 12/07 I got to go to Paris, southern France and a little bit of southern Italy for 10 days w/ my world traveler sister. I was amazed that you could hardly find anyone who was overweight. And they dressed so much nicer than we Americans. I never saw anyone wearing sweats, basketball shorts, or tennis shoes that weren't a fancy Skecher-type shoe. It wasn't that noticeable until I landed back in the US at the Detroit airport. Maybe it's more of a midwest thing, but people looked so sloppy here. As far as the diet goes, I found I really didn't like French food. They didn't have what I was used to- good juicy burgers, thick cheesy pizza w/ the works, fried mozzarella sticks, Mexican or Chinese food! Their food just wasn't very appealing to me. I just have to laugh. B/c that just sounds ridiculous coming from a dietitian.  Oh, well, I guess I'm a true American.  



Hello!I live in Italy and i must say that italian are not slim people!We have our obesity problems too!Of course that s becouse we eat a lot of snacks and we started to like fast food years ago.

America s italian food is NOT the same as the Italy italian food.As hard as they try u just cannot have the same bufala mozzarella as we do in south italy,mostly Campania-Napoli.In north Italy the bufala mozzarella doesn.t even exists!South Italy has more fat people than center italy becouse they eat a lot of fried stuffs.The culture also in south is eat eat eat 5 dishes at lunch!!!Do not wanna talk about sweets!!!

In high north like Piemonte has also a high range of fat people becouse they also eat very fat becouse most of the year is very cold.

Hope i am not disturbing anyone.And please excuse my grammar!



Original Post by: airina

Hello!I live in Italy and i must say that italian are not slim people!We have our obesity problems too!Of course that s becouse we eat a lot of snacks and we started to like fast food years ago.

America s italian food is NOT the same as the Italy italian food.As hard as they try u just cannot have the same bufala mozzarella as we do in south italy,mostly Campania-Napoli.In north Italy the bufala mozzarella doesn.t even exists!South Italy has more fat people than center italy becouse they eat a lot of fried stuffs.The culture also in south is eat eat eat 5 dishes at lunch!!!Do not wanna talk about sweets!!!

In high north like Piemonte has also a high range of fat people becouse they also eat very fat becouse most of the year is very cold.

Hope i am not disturbing anyone.And please excuse my grammar!


And breakfast is served with bar cappuccino(very fat) and brioches with cream.So breakfast is not low-fat.At 9 we have our cofee break when we drink cofee and have a small snack.And dessert always comes after dinner but most of the people are to full after 3-4 courses to eat a piece of Tiramisu or cake or icecream.We use to eat our lucnh and after work stop at the icecream corner.Lunch break is 1 and half hour,even 2.Maybe the good part is that we all eat together at the table!



While for the most part I agree, I do have one objection.  This is a description of what Italian culture really is, but the reality is that it is changing, unfortunately. 

I live in Rome, and while I see that most of the older and middle age population is slim, the youth and adolescents are much chubbier than their elders.  They frequent McDonalds for lunch after school and on the weekends, and they eat Pringles as their snacks (kids bring these for their after school English lesson with me).  Gone are the days where kids go home for lunch or eat some nuts or cheese as a snack.  They are eating processed Americanized foods. 

It's quite sad, actually.  I hope  to teach my future kids good nutrition and to appreciate GOOD, WHOLESOME food.  But, I have a feeling it will be an uphill battle.



Original Post by: airina

Original Post by: airina

Hello!I live in Italy and i must say that italian are not slim people!We have our obesity problems too!Of course that s becouse we eat a lot of snacks and we started to like fast food years ago.

America s italian food is NOT the same as the Italy italian food.As hard as they try u just cannot have the same bufala mozzarella as we do in south italy,mostly Campania-Napoli.In north Italy the bufala mozzarella doesn.t even exists!South Italy has more fat people than center italy becouse they eat a lot of fried stuffs.The culture also in south is eat eat eat 5 dishes at lunch!!!Do not wanna talk about sweets!!!

In high north like Piemonte has also a high range of fat people becouse they also eat very fat becouse most of the year is very cold.

Hope i am not disturbing anyone.And please excuse my grammar!


And breakfast is served with bar cappuccino(very fat) and brioches with cream.So breakfast is not low-fat.At 9 we have our cofee break when we drink cofee and have a small snack.And dessert always comes after dinner but most of the people are to full after 3-4 courses to eat a piece of Tiramisu or cake or icecream.We use to eat our lucnh and after work stop at the icecream corner.Lunch break is 1 and half hour,even 2.Maybe the good part is that we all eat together at the table!


Hi airina!  I too live in Italy, but I am American.  Your English is quite good!  I have never understood Italian breakfasts...how do they get away with eating dessert (cookies, sweet cornetti (croissants for you English speakers)covered in icing sugar) for breakfast?????  I had to explain to my lovely Italian husband that it was NOT a proper breakfast!



Here's an article I found that goes right with this theme.

Really?  The Claim: to Cut Calories, Eat Slowly

By the way, the article is partly based on a month long stay in a family pensione where meals were provided. 

After the trip, when I got off the plane, everyone I saw was so fat, and as ayoder66 says, there were a lot of sloppily dressed people.

The statistics for the USA - 33% of the adult population is not just fat but obese.  In Italy it's 10%.  All is not rosy as this way of life is slowly disappearing due to long commutes to work making it impossible for everyone to go home for lunch.  Also, the fast food industry has moved right into a ready market. 



I know I have missed the point of this one...

Because I am hungry now and in need of a great glass of vino!!!



All this about portions and types of food is true.  They also smoke like chimneys.



My boyfriend is Italian and I constantly go to Italy...

This article is true in that...

Italians don't have big breakfasts, eat large lunches and dinners with plenty of vegetables, many courses but small servings, not butter but olive oil, eat fruit after dinner, dilute red wine often with fizzy water (delicious by the way).

 

What it doesn't say is that the small breakfasts often consist of high fat cappuccinos, custard filled brioche or kraften, cakes or biscuits. It's okay though, it's good to have sugar in the morning. In america and the UK people overindulge so such good high density foods become bad.

Mid morning snack is often a yogurt or another brioche or some carbohydrate like herby crostini.

Lunch is more often than not pasta or rice based, no butter involved, olive oil, pasta in tomato and basil sauce, pesto, cheese sauce, or tortellini or ravioli or gnocci with sage butter. Canneloni and lasagne are quite common to, in tiny portions. Unless it is the only course, no cheese is melted on top, though for non-filled pasta you sometimes may sprinkle a little parmesan (less than a teaspoon). These courses are small, and followed by bread, olives, vegetables, for meat eaters meat but for me and my boyfriend, veggie burgers made of soya or seitan. Or just mozarella and tomatos and olive oil, followed by salad, and if you like, fruit. Even though most often Italians don't eat dessert, that isn't always.

Afternoon snack often had with a cup of tea or espresso (iced in summer) Whilst in winter italians tend to have cioccolata calda (very dense hot chocolate, more like hot melted chocolate or pudding and delicious), in Summer the tendency is to have gelato in the afternoon.

Dinner can be pizza (huge humungous pizzas, you never share and never have extras. Much thinner base and less cheese but better quality sauce and toppings.), a pasta dish, a hearty soup, cheese and spinach filled pastries, and so on.

More fruit and/or a dessert



oh, and they cycle and walk a lot



Interesting article, but I'd like to know the sources of the author's information.



I am Italian-American.  My grandparents were born in Naples.  My parents both raised us on meals they grew up on, pasta with lentils, pasta with beans (fajoli), escarole and beans, sauce (we were raised to call it gravy) with sausage and meatballs, good Italian bread, antipasta, stuffed artichokes, homemade manicoti, broccoli-rabi aldente with garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice (served cold), scungile salad (fresh garlic, olive oil and fresh parsley, scungile in sauce (in tomato sauce with crushed pepper), fried shmelts, stuffed mushrooms, baked clams....hmm....that's about right...and all of my siblings (five of us) (our parents are deceased) continue to prepare these meals mostly on holidays to keep us remembering our family traditions.  Funny thing is, though, none of us go for dessert much at all.  If anything, cheesecake would be preferred.  Also, my sister and I have two Italian Christmas cookie recipes handed down that we make every year as well.  What we all do have in common though is salt.  When we come together for our family meal, we've reached 16 altogether now with our spouses and children, and we need at least two or three salt and pepper shakers.  So for us it's I can do without the sweets but hand me the salt shaker.  My father's side of the family was definitely obese to the end but my mother and mother's side of the family just thin to the end.  My siblings and I are somewhere in the middle.  Diabeties runs in my father's side heavily so we are all conscious of our weight and work very hard at keeping ourselves as thin as we can.  Again, we are all somewhere in the middle.  We have made major changes in our diets from the foods of our youth, exchanging turkey for beef, whole wheat pasta versus white, brown rice versus white, and very little bread, if any, only on special occasions.  Italy sounds wonderful.  We all hope one day we will be able to visit Naples as a family and experience the place where our ancestors lived and most definitely experience the foods they eat.  What I can say about all of my siblings including myself is that WE JUST PLAIN LOVE TO EAT!



Comment Removed

i'm also an american living in italy. a cultural not might be interesting to some of you:

the kind of meals described by the article are more typically found in families in the country, in the south of italy and at the homes of older italians or italian families with housewives. granted, there are alot of unemployed young women in italy, but often those meals are prepared by the older stay-at-home grandmothers, mothers or mother-in-laws of people (especially men) who work. married men here have no problem going to their mamma's house for this kind of meal when their wives are working. sometimes lucky employees have cafeterias or are given cupons for free meals in trattorie/restaurants by their company and there they find the same type of traditional meals.

I instead struggle to keep variety on the table, since i work and commute and have no cafeteria or cupons. and neither my husband nor i have family in the area. i'm constantly looking for ways to achieve this kind of meal with little time (most recently I've discovered the crock pot) and it takes a lot of planning. I wish my husband were a pasta lover because a variety of pasta dishes are quick and easy to make once you know how but unfortunately he is a meat lover (that's why the crockpot is good for the evening).

the best thing here in italy that america needs to learn from (but capitalism will never allow it) is minimum 2 hour lunches. meal time is sacred and directly related to maintaining health, which is a right, and this should be respected by granting adequately long lunchtimes when at work.

 



As Airina said, there are also fat people in Italy, especially in the South. Go to Sicily, for instance, you'll find many overweight women. The food is very rich, yet you can also find wonderful, healthy dishes, lots of braised or baked fish, seefood, and vegetables, delicious cold spinach with olive oil in the summer, and, of course, smaller portions in restaurants. The trick seems to be a combination of eating balanced meals, the Mediterranean diet, smaller portions, and walking --every one walks in the cities. As a Spaniard told me once in Madrid, when I asked for directions to a site: "It's very near, just a 20-25 minute walk to the place you are looking for!"



Original Post by: killerwasp

Interesting article, but I'd like to know the sources of the author's information.


The obesity statistics are from the World Health Orgainization.

There are two links in the blog that will take you to Kyle Phillip's Italian expert articles.  Mr. Phillips lives in Italy. 

Finally, some of it is based on my own month long visit to Liguria where I lived in a family inn.  The six guests ate all three meals with the family who owned the Pennsione. 

I hope this answers your excellent question - thank you for.



Original Post by: tonyita

As Airina said, there are also fat people in Italy, especially in the South. Go to Sicily, for instance, you'll find many overweight women. The food is very rich, yet you can also find wonderful, healthy dishes, lots of braised or baked fish, seefood, and vegetables, delicious cold spinach with olive oil in the summer, and, of course, smaller portions in restaurants. The trick seems to be a combination of eating balanced meals, the Mediterranean diet, smaller portions, and walking --every one walks in the cities. As a Spaniard told me once in Madrid, when I asked for directions to a site: "It's very near, just a 20-25 minute walk to the place you are looking for!"


I think we are talking about two different things.  I felt that Italian people looked well nourished and many were plumper than our too thin ideals in the USA.  Of course there are variations region to region just as there are states here where the obesity rate can be lower or higher.  I don't remember seeing 300-400 pound people walking down the street as we do here.  Visit any Walmart and you'll understand what I'm saying.  



Oh what a flattering topic! Wink

While Italians in Italy may be thin, this is CERTAINLY not so for us in America LOL! Most Italian families & communities including my own have a weight problem, it's not that our food is bad in particular it's just we eat a lot of it.



Blame it on America! LOL



I lived in Sicily for three years, and I can say that although this information is true, there are a few things that are left out... Italians are usually a hard manual labor people.  Most of Sicily is made up of farmland, and when you see people working on those farms, most things are done by hand.  Italians are also always on the go, which leave little time to sit in front of a television.  Lastly, almost all meals are made fresh.  When you go to a restaurant, the meat is slaughtered that day, the gelato (ice cream)... yes they eat desserts... is prepared that day, veggies are picked and washed that day.  This is why they have agriturismos, which is a restaurant without menus.  When you go to eat, you eat what they have prepared.  Very few preservatives are used in Sicily.  My digestive track had a ver hard time adjusting when we moved there and then again when we moved back to the states... So I have to say that its not the portion sizes or the lengthy meals, it's fresh foods and lots of exercise that also contributes to their small frames.  The author also failed to mention that there are not a lot of 6ft tall Italians, so I'm sure the genetic make-up also has something to do with their petite figures.



Comment Removed

  Everybody's responses makes me love the Italian way of living even more.  I've been eating meals based mostly on Mediterranean food since New Years, and I absolutely love it.  I wouldn't have been able to keep my resolution otherwise.  It makes me want to hug the next Italian person I meet, not just because all my clothes are too big but also because I've finally found healthy foods that are actually a pleasure to eat!



I don't know where the author gets their information but its all incorrect.

Last time i visited Italy we went to sicily for thats where my family is from. They eat mainly one HUGE meal a day at around 12 noon where all work ceases for a few hours and then siesta for another hour. They start work at 5am and some jobs work til 10pm. They work very hard. I rarely ever see them eating breakfast or any other meal. I do see them pick here and there but not by much since theyre always so busy. At noon when they have their huge dinner no one is allowed outdoors and i believe theres a "curfew" type law that is in effect during that time. Everything closes. The dinner is huge, amazing, lots of pasta all the time, olive oil, very healthy foods though and its always a family gathering.

But they do eat one huge meal a day. When i would have my coffee and soemthing for breakfast and try to do lunch and something to eat around 7pm they would look at me funny . But not every italian is slim. My family and people around a lot of them were heavyset especially the older over 40 people. This was not limited to sicily though.

 

Just my two cents. The author needs to do their homework and stop posting things just to satisfy quota.

 



Airina,

I just moved to italy here in the south some months ago, and I find the food extremely delicious.  I have to agree with you, yes there are also weight problems in Italy just like in the United States.  I think though, from what I have seen, it is not so common like in America.  I notice many people taking public transportation as this is a big city.  They do walk a lot here in the city and I think this burns lots of calories.  But I think in the states we sometimes over do it with huge portions and too many snacks of processed food.



I'm American and I have lived 5 years in Italy... both the south and the north.  My husband is Italian and grew up in the north and moved to the south as a teenager, where his parents are both from.  Things are changing as far as lifestyle here in Italy.  The older generation did work very hard to provide a life for their children that maybe they didnt have when they were younger.  Born to work hard... work the fields if they had their own land... produced their own olive oil, wine, canned tomatoes, etc..  Unfortunately, life is not always easy... the good life that Italians once had... for many is harder now since the change of the currency to Euro and the crisis.  But one important fact is that Italians have a lot of pride... either to fit into their culture, to dress good, to be social, competitive or to look the best they can. And, if you dont fit in here, it can be very devestating if you wish to have a social life or a partner in life.  Media is very intimidating if you are unhappy about yourself.  Almost every show has sexy show girls or beautiful women... and the camera zooming slowly from the ankles to the top.  The north and the south are different from each other as well as region to region,  town to town, and family to family.  Every place has its own traditions.  Italy is very rich not only in history, but also the history of food, cooking, and quality.  Quality is extremely important.  And products that are special and produced in a certain place have a DOP.  Buffalo mozzarella is not nearly close to being the same in Milan as it is in the Naples area where it is DOP, but also because it must be produced in a certain way and eaten extremely fresh, within a day if possible.  Ive had the luxury to live with my husbands family.  Breakfast is usually just an espresso or espresso with milk, unless you feel like getting ready to go to the bar to take something small like a brioche and an espresso or cappuchino.... Its not nearly as high in saturated fat or as heavy caloric as the breakfast you find in the States with bacon, sausage, biscotts and gravy, huge stack of pancakes with a glob of butter and rich maple syrup.  Italians do eat desert... in the summer icecream more often... but usually they go out to the gelateria and they have a tiny cup of homeade icecream... compared to the mega portions in America.  When they go to the restaurant, which they dont do as often, unless they live in a big working city like Milan, they usually have either fruit or a small piece of some kind of desert with their meal, but not necessarily. McDonalds and burger king are the only american fast food chains i have seen in italy, and you dont see them on every corner...Actually when i was living in the south, we had to drive half hour to find one. Italians usually (at least the older generation) do not frequent fast food.... its something that is rare.  Portion size is the key word.... Enjoying food... knowing how to cook... to be creative... its an art for many here.   Lunches often consist of pasta, but not necessarily, and accompanied with maybe some fresh bakery bread, salad (olive oil and vinegar), tomatoe salad, cheese, vegetables, etc...  Maybe in the south people with get an hour or a little longer to come home and have lunch with their families, but not always is it the case.  And some families may have also a grandparent that lives with them and helps out.  Dinner is what ever... maybe a steak... or just some bakery bread and a tomatoe salad with some cheese.... Unless, maybe there are leftovers or there are guests or the preference to have a bigger more special dinner.  My husbands family makes their own olive oil, canned tomatoes, wine... Ive never had wine with sparkling water... ive seen it done ever so often...but i think mostly when its warm out or they prefer something lighter, as wine is also something important here and the quality.  In cities like Milan, people usually eat out at work... but usually something quite small... a sandwhich (or typically piadina)... salad or something, and a coffee... co workers often go to lunch together. In some ways, the south of Italy is more traditional...and often they eat much more fresh seafood.  Butter is used infrequently... and if so, usually in small portions.  A lot less preservatives are used... People that love food cook from scratch usually.  There are no boxes of Macoroni and Cheese... In America we enjoy a very comfortable over-sized life in every way... its one of the cheapest places to live... everything is big... and comfortable...less taxes, more space... food is overdone and big in portions.... maybe 4 times bigger.... Italian restaurants in America are not usually really like the real italian food... If you go to a restaurant and get something for deserts its extremely huge.  Even icecream there is more fatty and sugary.  And all the mayonaise salads...potatoes salad, macaroni salad... with globs of mayonaise... It may be good... sometimes I miss some things... but this experience in Italy has changed my life... and my knowledge about food.  Its more about quality than quantity.  And, when you have had some of the best food in your life... you will not want McDonalds or junk food.  These days, you are starting to see the beginning of things changing for some people... kids eating more junk food and not being active enough.  Still, there are plenty of people that really care and make the effort to be as healthy as possible. 



And also, the cappuchino in Italy is only espresso and topped with fresh milk steamed...in a cup smaller than an traditional American coffee cup...and  maybe a sprinkle of cacoa if you wish... and then you decide if you want sweetner or sugar and how much.  Its not the 40 ounce glasses you can find at every gas station to fill with coffee, loads of cream and sugar or those flavored highly sugared cappuchinos



"300-400 pound people..."

That is an undisputably correct observation. You can't see that in Italy, nowhere comparable to situation in US.  That proves that there are significant differences in eating habits and lifestyles of Italians and Americans, in general.



I think a key note of this article is this:

Italians (as well as many other Euro nations) don't spend their leisurely time in front of the tv or on their bums, which not only aides in a sedentary lifestyle, but also increases unnecessary snacking.

My thoughts: we all need a whole lot more fresh air.



Original Post by: samhainaz

I don't know where the author gets their information but its all incorrect.

Last time i visited Italy we went to sicily for thats where my family is from. They eat mainly one HUGE meal a day at around 12 noon where all work ceases for a few hours and then siesta for another hour. They start work at 5am and some jobs work til 10pm. They work very hard. I rarely ever see them eating breakfast or any other meal. I do see them pick here and there but not by much since theyre always so busy. At noon when they have their huge dinner no one is allowed outdoors and i believe theres a "curfew" type law that is in effect during that time. Everything closes. The dinner is huge, amazing, lots of pasta all the time, olive oil, very healthy foods though and its always a family gathering.

But they do eat one huge meal a day. When i would have my coffee and soemthing for breakfast and try to do lunch and something to eat around 7pm they would look at me funny . But not every italian is slim. My family and people around a lot of them were heavyset especially the older over 40 people. This was not limited to sicily though.

 

Just my two cents. The author needs to do their homework and stop posting things just to satisfy quota.

 


The obesity statistics are from the World Health Orgainization.

There are two links in the blog that will take you to Kyle Phillip's Italian expert articles.  Mr. Phillips lives in Tuscany and is an expert on Italian cuisine and culture. 

Finally, some of it is based on my own month long visit to Liguria where I lived in a family inn.  The six guests ate all three meals with the family who owned the Pensione. 

I hope this answers your excellent questions - thank you for asking.

(I never encountered a curfew in Portofino where the social life on the street was very cordial and often late into the night)




Your grammar is charming, ariana!  That's another thing Italians are better at - you speak more than one language!!



Since when is the act of eating and drinking something in the morning not breakfast?  If I only have a piece of fruit or some yogurt, have I missed out on breakfast?  What about when I have a cup of coffee and an english muffin with or avocado?  This is very unsettling for me.  All this time I thought I was eating breakfast and following the Rules of Dieting and it turns out, I haven't!



Also, I believe the curfew Samhainaz was referring to took place during the midday dinner, not in the evening.  I know Switzerland has enforced quiet hours during the midday siesta period, and being that a decent part of Swiss culture is Italian it's not hard for me to believe part of Italy might have the same routine.



This is the problem with a website like this, it is guilty of putting out an article that reads like a cosmopolitan, or US magazine diet article for the stars.  Extremely vague and lacking in concrete scientific and dietary facts. 

 

EAT LESS

 

Wow what a novel concept, how do they do it?   Surprised



I am Italian and I live in Rome. It's pretty much everything true - except for breakfast... WE DO EAT BREAKFAST! And definitely not a "light" one!! Bread with jam, cereals or the most common is capuccino + a pastry. But that's it, we don't really snack outside meals and they're light and balanced. LOAD of vegetables and fish. The average italian family doesn't eat sweets at all except for birthdays or special occasions and we do walk a lot. Well I guess I must say im lucky to be Italian ;)



Original Post by: roxiegirl42

I know I have missed the point of this one...

Because I am hungry now and in need of a great glass of vino!!!


yep. same here. and the comments are evoking the same response Sealed



I love this article! I'm first generation Italian/American and reading this brought back childhood memories of daily bowls of pasta, vegetables dripping in olive oil, crusty bread, red wine, and delicious pastries reserved for special occasions. And, a healthy respect for all foods in moderation. Thanks for bringing back those memories, Claire!

Now, if I can duplicate my mother's finesse in the kitchen I'm all set....



Switzerland has enforced a quiet time during the siesta time and a decent part of Swiss culture is Italian??? I live in Switzerland and am Swiss and I didn't know! Thanks for educating me!!! LOL I am sure the Swiss Germans (71% of us) would have some objections though...

I also happen to be Italian by birth (and ancestry), and grew up in Paris, so all this information about Europe, my fellow citizens, and their habits is really entertaining. Keep it coming, by all means, it's like reading a novel.

It all reminds me of the 5 blind Indian wisemen debating about what an elephant is: one is touching the trunk, and says an elephant is soft and flexible. Another is touching a leg and declares that on the contrary, an elephant is very much like a rough-barked tree. The third one laughs and says they are both mistaken as he KNOWS an elephant is like a whip, and tipped with very stiff hair. The fourth one says they are all crazy, because it's like a large leaf slowly moving in the air, and the fifth one shouts above everyone else that they are stupid, as ANYONE can see an elephant is a very large round object in which a drum is beating...

Italy only became one country in 1871. Before that, each of its parts was an independent country with its own language, cuisine, history and local culture. As one of the countries constituting Europe, and as the land of origin of the Romans, who shaped Europe in more ways than one, it participates in many of the characteristics that make Europe different from the States. But to try and define Italy from what one person, or even a group of people have experienced at one moment in one place is a risky if not impossible thing. What would you say if I told you that I know Texas because I spent 3 weeks at my friend's place in Seattle in 2002? Yep, that's about what I think of much of what I read here tonight!

No offense, but beware of generalizations! We eat smaller portions and move more, on average, and 300-400 lbs people are few and far between. That's about it. "Modernity" and fast food are catching up with us though, so it's just a matter of time before we all eat and look alike. Sad but true. We still have some great leftovers though, so come and have a look, you won't regret it!

Helene, in Switzerland where siesta is frowned upon, believe me...



I have to admit that my family is very Italian but we are not slim at all! We have big bones and aren't very tall. I think that I am possibly the thinnest in my family for my age, and I can be honest I'm not exactly a model...

I think that it is possibly true that all the walking and working they do it what helps them stay thin, I have not met an Americanized Italian family that is completely thin yet! I can honestly say that American's are far, far, faar more lazy then anyother country in the world, that play's a large part in American obesity!!!

I think the only reason I am thinner then everyone else in my Dad's family is because I am Mohawk and Italian, (My mom is a Mohawk and my Dad is Italian).

I actually always thought that the stereo type for Italians was they were round, like the little chef cookie jars and stuff for your kitchen!!! Or heck even Mario!!!



I can not see anything in what Samhainaz said about his/her experience in Italy that is contradicting the article, and yet Samhainaz commented that the content of the article was incorrect... It doesn't make sense.    Samhainaz said they eat one huge meal; OK, that's what the article says too? The article says they take a a rest after lunch and then go to work; did Samhainaz refute that when he/she said at noon work ceases for a few hours and then siesta for a few hours? The article has put forward plenty of aspects and details, and Samhainaz says it's all incorrect; on what basis? The only remaining strong statement of Samhainaz seems to be "but not every Italian is slim." Did the article say every Italian is slim; what would the sentence "ten percent of the Italians in the obese range" possibly mean? And then finishing with "the author needs to do their homework..." What is this...? I tried to read every comment to benefit from every view and contribution, and when I read this one I said did I misunderstand anything in the article and went back to it, but all of the assertions were baseless??



Actually most Italians are fat.  I disagree with this article.



Correction - Most French people are slim.



I've been living here for a few months now and i've  noticed also that no one every orders soda except for americans! unless they go to macdonalds.  also, for lunch I often join my friend jacopo at a place called casa de vino, house of wine.  and they have wine even during lunch, they look at me funny when i don't ask for wine! but at this little casa de vino, they serve panini and take from all food groups even in the sandwiches.  Moderation is the key, as well as the lifestyle.  it's beautiful living here!! i loved this article.



the only fat italians i see, in florence anyway, are older people.  It is very rare that i see an obese or even overweight person under 40 here! 



I am from an Italian family who spent 35 years living in Wales, then  went back to their village in Sardinia. I followed 20 years later. When we used to visit I remember most of the youngsters were beautifully slim, glowing with health and very smartly dressed. There was a culture of " looking after yourself ". So different from Britain where stretch pants had taken over. Slowly, with the introduction of more and more snack and convienience food, waists are expanding. Back to the food, they have no fear of sugar here, you should see how much jam they put on their " fette biscotatte " with milk and 2 sugars being a normal breakfast with or without coffee. They like pasta with veg, followed by a small piece of meat, fish or a salad of bitter leaves and cured meats. They love all of the pulses, wild asparagus, fennel and snails which can be found throughout the year. Olive oil is used as a norm, though very few will eat fried food often, if ever. In this small village, those with cars use them for the shortest journey, never thinking to walk. There are lots of people who still work the land for home produce well into their 80's and the local meat is just that, local. They eat fruit in killo's and chocolate is almost considered a food group on its own. Water is an essential on every table as is wine. This may be the last generation of slim Italians..... they love Mc Donalds. These are my thoughts, every one has their own opinions. Wish we could all be happy and healthy.

 



Most of the articles written by this author are full of generalizations and inaccuracies.  I am sick of reading that ALL people do something.  No they don't.  And there is plenty of overweight and obesity in Italy.  Start getting your facts together before you write and stop talking about everyone in large groups.  There are ways to put out information without these generalizations.  Didn't you learn this in college?



As a visitor to Italy (rome and florence) I noticed that though of course not every Italian was slim, they were on average far slimmer than Americans.  And many, many italian women especially were drop dead gorgeous and had ideal figures (neither too thin nor too fat---  many looked like jennifer aniston with a darker complexion!)  I think it has as much to do with a "culture" that is obsessed with looking good as it does with their diet. Yes, they might eat sugar and pasta and not the whole wheat kind, but I think they are much more careful about watching their weight.  I saw very few older women (or men, for that matter) with children who looked like they had let themselves go the way american moms & dads do.  I guess it all has to do with how much you value your health and image, as well as life in general--  so maybe not everything in the article is completely true for everyone, but across the board I'd say there are FAR fewer overweight, sloppy italians as their are americans....sad but true.



Many of you have stated what you thought was bad about this article but what was good about it was that it stressed these key things:

1) portion control

2) eliminate needless snacking

3) keep high calorie sweets to a minimum

4) get plenty of walking

5) eat slowly

6) balanced nutrition

What lacked is how many calories do they eat on average? How much do they walk on average? What is the average BMI of Italians. Need some numbers I think.



Post Your Comment

Join Calorie Count - it's easy and free!
CREATE FREE ACCOUNT
Advertisement
Advertisement