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How Italians Eat So Many Carbs: Healthy Secrets of the Italian Diet

How do Italians stay healthy and still eat so many carbs? What are the secrets of the Italian Lifestyle?

The Italian Lifestyle is Not to Be On Vacation Everyday

Italians Do Eat Pasta, Just Differently

The Italian Lifestyle Includes Much More Walking

Italians Spend More Time In the Sun

The Italian Diet Celebrates Local and Seasonal Fruits and Veggies

Italians Avoid Added Sugars

The Italian Diet Focuses on High-Quality Food

One extra reason the Italian Lifestyle is Healthier: Less stress!

If you’ve ever been to Italy, you’ve probably found yourself wondering how Italians eat so many carbs and stay so fit and healthy. The pastries, the pizza, the pasta, the bread..carbs never seem to end in Italy! All these delicacies play such a huge part in the Italian diet and hedonistic Italian lifestyle in general. Yet Italians somehow stay fit and healthy, boasting the Mediterranean diet as the healthiest in the world.

Every time I go to Italy, I try to eat in a balanced way to stay healthy since I’m usually there for 2-3 months (aside from the extra helpings of pasta and gelato that I wouldn’t normally be having back home). Let’s just say right from the start— that‘s really hard. I’ve been invited into Italian homes plenty of times for dinner and while all the food is OVER-THE-TOP delicious, it usually consists of carb-heavy dishes with miniscule amounts of vegetables on the table. *However, it's also true that when I’m invited to an Italian home for dinner, it’s a “special event” so they’re serving richer food and thus, I’m not getting an accurate perception of how Italians really eat.

On top of being wined and dined by my warm-hearted Italian friends, I’m faced with temptations at every turn. Just try resisting authentic gelato in the midday heat, the pastries being sold by the cute old man smiling behind the counter, or just a quick bite of pizza margherita after a long day walking in the city.

No matter how hard I try, after a few weeks, I’m feeling out of balance, bloated, and definitely gaining pounds at the end of my stay. There’s nothing wrong with a little “Italy love on the hips“, but after years of struggling to feel balanced and healthy when in Italy, I just really want to understand the mystery of the Italian diet: How do Italians manage to stay healthy and fit while eating the pizza, the pasta, the pastries, the gelato, and the everything else?!

pizza slices with red tomato sauce, arugula, prosciutto, and flakes of cheese

I’ve called my friend Eva Perocsenyi, a Hungarian photographer based in Florence, who shared with me about her experiences with the Italian lifestyle and food culture, and tried to answer the inexplicable question: How do Italians eat so many damn carbs? (Click here to watch the video interview!)

Eva is a long-standing advocate of a healthy lifestyle with a limited amount of carbs. While carbs are essential for our health, the right amount (about 180 g/6.3 oz) per day is the key. It’s actually not that difficult to reach this goal. All you have to do is be creative with your food and play with the ratios on your plate to achieve a balanced Italian diet. Eva says it’s surprisingly easy to do so in Italy, and she’s shared with me the 7 ways Italians stay healthy while still enjoying their carbs. Read on below!

1. The Italian Lifestyle is Not to Be On Vacation Everyday

a glass of Italian tiramisu dessert

An everyday lifestyle of a typical Italian is not to walk downtown, sit down in a charming little café and enjoy a cup of cappuccino with one of their fantastic desserts, then have pasta or pizza for dinner, and wash it all away with a glass or two of local wine. These are the habits we tend to have while we’re on our vacation and crave to taste the country’s culinary pleasures with all of our senses. Italians eat their tiramisù only on special occasions. A vacation in Italy definitely IS a special occasion, so enjoy the Italian heaven on your tastebuds without a side of guilt— but Eva pointed out that Italians don’t eat that way everyday!

2. Italians Do Eat Pasta, Just Differently