Italian Daily Diet

Last Updated on July 2nd, 2023

We may earn commissions for purchases made through links on our site. Learn more on our about us page.

When you think about diets, there are going to be more opinions and scientific studies that will detail why eating in a certain way is beneficial to the body. 

But, then, thinking about different body types, each person requires different levels of nutrients and daily caloric amounts. 

Some folks eat like Hobbits, seven plus times a day, and others stick with three square meals or snacking approaches to fueling their bodies. 

Italians are known for eating well, especially when it comes to dinner time, but did you know that children traditionally have five meals a day, while adults are content with four solid meals in a single day? 

What Does a Typical Italian Eat in a Day?

Let us break this down into breakfast foods, lunch dishes, and a couple of common courses from the dinner mealtime. Italians love their sweets in the morning, a cup of Café with a delicious pastry and some biscotti biscuits to dunk in that mug of coffee. 

Lunch is going to mostly consist of lighter meals, such as a Caesar salad with a freshly baked Italian loaf of bread; many will pair a light Rosé or white wine with the dish being served. Dinner is going to be where Italian Shine, or better worded dine. 

This is where the heavier meals come out, starting with a light antipasto which leads into the primo or appetizer.

Followed by the second, which consists of lighter pasta dishes (chicken or fish, typically), and the grand contorno, which has a plate of veggies to go along with the main course. 


How Many Times a Day do Italians Eat?

There will be some vineyard workers that are privileged enough to snack on grapes throughout the day, but when it comes to the traditional Italian meal structure, it simplifies into five meals for children and four for grown adults. 

Below is a list that will include the meals and times they are enjoyed:


  • Colazione – Breakfast (Morning, any time before 11 am)
  • Pranzo – Lunch (Served between 1 pm and 2:30 pm)
  • Aperitive – Pre-dinner drinks and snack foods (Served before dinner around 7 pm to 8 pm)
  • Cena – The largest meal of the day, usually five courses (Served around 8 pm to 9:30 pm)
  • Merenda – Snack time for the children occurs between or throughout the mid-morning to mid-afternoon. 


Which Food is the Basis of the Italian Daily Diet?

If we were speaking about a beverage, wine would be what Italians are mostly made up of, grapes and tannins. For breakfast, the base foods are going to be something with grains, such as cereals and pastries. 

When you think about the afternoon and dinnertime meals, there is going to be a host of dishes that will feature pasta in some form. We are talking angel hair, fettuccini, lasagna, spaghetti, ravioli, and the list goes on. 

Besides wine, it would have to be olive oil, as is the most common ingredient in traditional Italian dishes, which is used to mix up a good pasta sauce or to coat the pan or skillet for prepping the meat required for the pasta dish being served. 


How Should You Do Portion Control?

Okay, let’s take the perspective of a traditional Italian day, at least when it comes to the food being eaten. You wake up, the sun has been up for a few hours, but the morning remains cool. 

Entering the kitchen, you start the Coffee (or Café) and pull out a fruit jelly pastry. A light meal to break the fast comes with a light pasta dish or lunch salad, a light meal. 

Just before you enter the five-course meal, there is a wine-drinking hour in which guests and hosts will share appetizers before sitting down for dinner. 

Dinner will have an intro of a light antipasto, followed by a light pasta dish, leading to a heavier protein-based course that normally features meat or fish. Then you have the main course, followed by a dessert. 


Should You Eat Bread?

The fun thing about these meals is the interchangeable foods that can be plugged into the meal plan, and nothing pairs better with light pasta and white wine than a freshly baked loaf of Italian bread. 

Then, in the morning, trade out the pastry with a good piece of toast and butter or jam. 

Or, for lunch, swap out the pasta and share a loaf of bread and a block of cheese.

Paired with a good wine, and you will find yourself enjoying the laidback Mediterranean rhythm traditional Italians enjoy. Then, when it comes to the five courses at dinner, consider adding fresh Italian bread to the foods being served for the primo or secondo. 


Final Thoughts on the Italian Daily Diet

Traditional, first people, Italians enjoy a laid back lifestyle based around good food, well-crafted wine, and family. Cin and salute. 

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply