4

votes

What to eat when heading to Italy, home of the carb?

Answered on November 28, 2014
Created April 19, 2012 at 11:09 PM

Help! I'm going to Italy to study in a week for the next two months, and I have no idea how I am going to survive. I have a little apartment with kitchenette so I should be ok when cooking at home. Problem is, this is going to be a very social experience, and I suspect will involve a lot of eating out and drinking. Can anyone give me advice of foods I might find on a menu in Italy that are paleo. Pizza and pasta and gelato is really going to test my resolve. Also is there any less bad alcohols? Limoncello is yummy but from memory is very sweet.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on April 30, 2012
at 05:31 PM

You hated pasta? Oh man, I could live on pasta alone :D!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on April 21, 2012
at 05:12 AM

And my comment to this - how do you know if you have celiac or not? Do you know about silent celiacs? No symptoms celiacs? No symptoms gluten intolerant? You can be celiac and feel fine eating wheat, while it is destroying your health. I have been to Italy many times - and guess what? Yes, you can go to Italy and eat Paleo. It is a perfect country for it. Plus, I have always hated pasta, so it was very easy for me.

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on April 20, 2012
at 05:56 PM

There are also these little ID cards you can buy that say Celiac in different languages, then you could just show your waiter.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 20, 2012
at 05:12 PM

And of course, all my comments were prefaced with: assuming you're not celiac or serverely intolerant to wheat... the overwhelming majority of folks aren't.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 20, 2012
at 05:08 PM

Not to say, you can't go to Italy and eat paleo (I did suggest the OP keep a paleo kitchen). But given most folks can do just fine on wheat and other non-paleo items, there's little reason for the OP to struggle with paleo while trying to enjoy their time in Italy. In the grand scheme of things, a couple months of 50% paleo is abolsutely nothing to worry over, considering most of us probably ate for years before discoving paleo.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on April 20, 2012
at 04:08 PM

That's exactly what I was thinking. All my life I bread, pasta and cookies without any consequences. And then I got so sick that I would not eat another cookie even at a gun point. You obviously do not know research behind gluten intolerance. I hope you never get sick. No pizza in the world is worth it. Believe me.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 20, 2012
at 03:58 PM

VB, if I lived in Belgium again, I would live on fries with andalouse sauce, sugar waffles, kip kebab and beer. But on a more serious note, carrying the celiac gene does not mean there's an expression of celiac. Most folks do just fine with wheat, I'd postulate that there's a much larger percentage of folks that have little to no response than there are having slight to significant response, it's somewhat bell curve like, but not centered between celiac and no affect, the median is closer to the no effect end of the spectrum.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on April 20, 2012
at 12:08 PM

@ Korion It is not hard at all! They have so many different vegetables - it is like heaven! Sure, you can try Italian pizza. pasta and gelato. Once. Who needs bad carbs every day? Like if I am going to Belgium, do I need to each chocolate and French fries every day? Just because it is there, it does not mean you need it. You are right about altering the gut flora. We want our guts to be healthy, not ruined. Plus 30% of all people carry celiac genes. How many of them know about it? I wish somebody would have told me about the dangers of gluten earlier.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on April 20, 2012
at 11:29 AM

italian food isnt just pasta! anti pastas, fresh vegetables and lots of EVOO, you'll just have to pick your battles!

Bdede2dbc411f2533a7e6f13674ade51

(804)

on April 20, 2012
at 09:20 AM

What city? Rome is full of wonderful and fresh seafood. Tuscany has great wild boar and other game on the menu at many restaurants. The Italian Alps are rife with good pork dishes. Have fun, try new things, and just go easy on the pizza, pasta, and street food. Italy is a very easy place to eat paleo. Easily my favorite country in the world to eat in!

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on April 20, 2012
at 09:01 AM

It's REALLY hard to avoid gluten in Italy, so I think Matt makes a good point. Last time I went there I ate pizza and pasta every single day. @VB Doesn't every change in diet alter the gut flora?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on April 20, 2012
at 08:41 AM

Grains alter your gut flora. You can mess up your guts. Italy is the perfect place to stay healthy - green leafy vegetables, fresh vegetables in season, fish, great meat. What does not kill you not necessarily makes you stronger. Sometimes it makes you sick. You don't know how what you eat now will affect you in the future.

C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

(1631)

on April 20, 2012
at 05:00 AM

Agreed. I would cook paleo at home. When going out enjoy some delicious pasta and bread! It's not going to kill you and is enjoyable :)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 20, 2012
at 12:19 AM

Agreed, experience the culture while you're there. This would be a once in a lifetime experience for most people. Chill out, do the best you can and go back to Paleo when you get back. A couple of months won't kill you.

8d454fc50d6d58643d6f8b0d1e7ea8ea

(2830)

on April 20, 2012
at 12:18 AM

"senza glutine" - the Gluten Free Girl (serious celiac -- http://www.glutenfreegirl.com) had her honeymoon in Italy and swooned over how well they accommodate gluten-free folk.

0eba2cda101e1ef460ca0291aeb2e975

(120)

on April 20, 2012
at 12:00 AM

I am just beginning to like red wine, but if everyone else is drinking it... when in Rome hahhaha. (Sorry any excuse for a lame pun and I am there)

Af3e3615beba642bcafd0f21d64d74f7

on April 19, 2012
at 11:59 PM

^truth, just learn one phrase "I'm celiac" in italian and they will take care of you.

0eba2cda101e1ef460ca0291aeb2e975

(120)

on April 19, 2012
at 11:58 PM

What is Gluten Free in italian? Or do they just use the english?

0eba2cda101e1ef460ca0291aeb2e975

(120)

on April 19, 2012
at 11:56 PM

Ahh excellent thanks for all the suggestions, I guess it is easier than I thought it would be.

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13 Answers

8
005b9b6ea7d4a31a082fba188f7acb12

on April 19, 2012
at 11:44 PM

I think it is easier to eat healthy in Italy that it is to eat here personally. I don't think you should be worried about it at all. They don't sit around eating big bowls of pasta all day long. Think veggies, seafoods and meats and salads!!! --edit--- As for the booze...yes lemoncello is basically sugar, lemons and vodka or some other clear grain alcohol. Stick to some red wine...as most everyone else will be doing as well :)

0eba2cda101e1ef460ca0291aeb2e975

(120)

on April 20, 2012
at 12:00 AM

I am just beginning to like red wine, but if everyone else is drinking it... when in Rome hahhaha. (Sorry any excuse for a lame pun and I am there)

7
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 20, 2012
at 12:00 AM

If you're not allergic or celiac, why stay paleo? Seriously... Keep a paleo kitchen, but don't sweat eating out.

I'll add: if you were going to be there longer, I'd encourage you to get in neck deep with the locals. Go to the markets, go to the little butcher shops to get your provisions for the week. Heck, I'd even say hit up the local bakery for some good bread now and then (again, assuming you're not celiac). 2 months really isn't much time to immerse yourself completely in the culture, you're going to be more or less a tourist in a foreign land (how's your Italian?) If you had more time, yeah, try to make paleo work there within the culture. Don't waste your precious time there worrying about gluten-free and grass-fed...

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 20, 2012
at 12:19 AM

Agreed, experience the culture while you're there. This would be a once in a lifetime experience for most people. Chill out, do the best you can and go back to Paleo when you get back. A couple of months won't kill you.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on April 20, 2012
at 09:01 AM

It's REALLY hard to avoid gluten in Italy, so I think Matt makes a good point. Last time I went there I ate pizza and pasta every single day. @VB Doesn't every change in diet alter the gut flora?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on April 20, 2012
at 08:41 AM

Grains alter your gut flora. You can mess up your guts. Italy is the perfect place to stay healthy - green leafy vegetables, fresh vegetables in season, fish, great meat. What does not kill you not necessarily makes you stronger. Sometimes it makes you sick. You don't know how what you eat now will affect you in the future.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on April 20, 2012
at 12:08 PM

@ Korion It is not hard at all! They have so many different vegetables - it is like heaven! Sure, you can try Italian pizza. pasta and gelato. Once. Who needs bad carbs every day? Like if I am going to Belgium, do I need to each chocolate and French fries every day? Just because it is there, it does not mean you need it. You are right about altering the gut flora. We want our guts to be healthy, not ruined. Plus 30% of all people carry celiac genes. How many of them know about it? I wish somebody would have told me about the dangers of gluten earlier.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 20, 2012
at 03:58 PM

VB, if I lived in Belgium again, I would live on fries with andalouse sauce, sugar waffles, kip kebab and beer. But on a more serious note, carrying the celiac gene does not mean there's an expression of celiac. Most folks do just fine with wheat, I'd postulate that there's a much larger percentage of folks that have little to no response than there are having slight to significant response, it's somewhat bell curve like, but not centered between celiac and no affect, the median is closer to the no effect end of the spectrum.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 20, 2012
at 05:08 PM

Not to say, you can't go to Italy and eat paleo (I did suggest the OP keep a paleo kitchen). But given most folks can do just fine on wheat and other non-paleo items, there's little reason for the OP to struggle with paleo while trying to enjoy their time in Italy. In the grand scheme of things, a couple months of 50% paleo is abolsutely nothing to worry over, considering most of us probably ate for years before discoving paleo.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on April 20, 2012
at 04:08 PM

That's exactly what I was thinking. All my life I bread, pasta and cookies without any consequences. And then I got so sick that I would not eat another cookie even at a gun point. You obviously do not know research behind gluten intolerance. I hope you never get sick. No pizza in the world is worth it. Believe me.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 20, 2012
at 05:12 PM

And of course, all my comments were prefaced with: assuming you're not celiac or serverely intolerant to wheat... the overwhelming majority of folks aren't.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on April 21, 2012
at 05:12 AM

And my comment to this - how do you know if you have celiac or not? Do you know about silent celiacs? No symptoms celiacs? No symptoms gluten intolerant? You can be celiac and feel fine eating wheat, while it is destroying your health. I have been to Italy many times - and guess what? Yes, you can go to Italy and eat Paleo. It is a perfect country for it. Plus, I have always hated pasta, so it was very easy for me.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on April 30, 2012
at 05:31 PM

You hated pasta? Oh man, I could live on pasta alone :D!

6
44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on April 20, 2012
at 03:40 AM

Italy is also home of lardo, real fermented salamis, bottarga, and the best bacon (quanciale). And perhaps the coolest butcher, Dario Cecchini, on earth : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKeBpGlJ5dw

6
03b67d2b8e9e878147cb3f225c864207

(761)

on April 19, 2012
at 11:55 PM

Italy is one of the most aware countries when it comes to gluten free things. You'll likely find a gluten free menu at many normal Italian restaurants you visit. Even stopping at a highway gas-station when I was there last summer there was a whole shelf dedicated to gluten free snacks and awareness brochures. You'll be fine.

Also, live a little and have fun....some gluten free pizza / pasta and fresh Gelato won't kill you within 2 months.

8d454fc50d6d58643d6f8b0d1e7ea8ea

(2830)

on April 20, 2012
at 12:18 AM

"senza glutine" - the Gluten Free Girl (serious celiac -- http://www.glutenfreegirl.com) had her honeymoon in Italy and swooned over how well they accommodate gluten-free folk.

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on April 20, 2012
at 05:56 PM

There are also these little ID cards you can buy that say Celiac in different languages, then you could just show your waiter.

Af3e3615beba642bcafd0f21d64d74f7

on April 19, 2012
at 11:59 PM

^truth, just learn one phrase "I'm celiac" in italian and they will take care of you.

0eba2cda101e1ef460ca0291aeb2e975

(120)

on April 19, 2012
at 11:58 PM

What is Gluten Free in italian? Or do they just use the english?

6
5759bd89db5f73cabe0a6e8f8e6e1cb9

(1467)

on April 19, 2012
at 11:44 PM

Italian food in Italy is quite different from elsewhere. The menus are very varied and they eat a lot of fresh vegetables , great salads, steaks,soups. For example this evening at an Italian restaurant we had a mixed charcuterie plate as a starter, my husband had steak and I had chicken wrapped in bacon with spinach as a side dish.

Examples from tonight's menu

Rocket and parmesan salad Tomato, fresh basil and onion salad Mixed leaf salad, vine tomatoes, cucumber and olive oil dressing
Broccoli rabe with chilli and garlic
Potatoes Dauphinois with capers Mashed potato with garlic and herbs Fresh spinach saut??ed in extra virgin olive oil & garlic

AND A Rib-eye steak served with a peppercorn sauce and French
Chicken breast cooked in a fiery chilli sauce served Parmesan risotto
Fegato di Vitello alla Diavola Calf???s liver, a delicate diavola jus & creamy mash potatoes Chicken breast wrapped in Parma ham & sage, cooked in white wine Pan-fried Salmon served on a bed of lentils & spinach
Pan-fried fillet of sea bass, Sicilian caponnata, tomato & extra virgin olive oil
A pan-fried tuna steak served with a classic Ni??oise salad**

You will love the healthy organic fruits and veggies as well as all the affordable grass fed beef. I think grain fed beef is hardly existent in Italy! Enjoy.

0eba2cda101e1ef460ca0291aeb2e975

(120)

on April 19, 2012
at 11:56 PM

Ahh excellent thanks for all the suggestions, I guess it is easier than I thought it would be.

5
Baa413654789b57f3579474ca7fa43d7

(2349)

on April 20, 2012
at 01:19 PM

Robb Wolf went to Italy a couple years ago and he said he found it easier to eat Paleo there than in the US or Canada. He wrote a short post with a video about it.

http://robbwolf.com/2010/11/17/the-road-forager-gluten-free-pizza-in-florence-italy/

Good luck and have fun!

4
3c7150f971f65f52bb066bf21baa0f1d

on April 20, 2012
at 05:11 PM

Italy is the perfect country if you want to eat strictly paleo! The most of italians are proud of their traditional, organic and local foods! I live near Florence and as other tuscanies we love our famous beef steak "Fiorentina"! And if it doesn't come from grass-fed cows, who can live freely in our wide landscape you don't call it such like this! We also have a great variety of ham and salumi, not wurst or hot dog.

I can also tell you that the organic farmers are increased in the last ten years, when you will here ask for "BIO" products or "KM 0" Markets. I'm a Bio Farmer, in my house we eat only our chickens, eggs, veggies from our land; boar and other game meat from hating of my grandfather.

I had more difficulty to eat paleo out of my country. I'm sorry for my national proud, i'm too much in love with my land.

4
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on April 19, 2012
at 11:16 PM

Have a wonderful time and enjoy yourself. You'll figure it out. For pasta dishes eat the meat, sauce, and veggies. Salads are everywhere. You'll be fine just use common sense. Basically everything is game except the pasta and bread- eat around it. Again, have a great time and try soak up the culture.

3
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on April 20, 2012
at 08:34 AM

They have wonderful, wonderful leafy greens in Italy. Fresh, tasty... makes my mouth water! Have those greens and fish/meat at every meal. Vegetables in season are always good. Why grains? They are not good anyway!

3
Medium avatar

(2338)

on April 20, 2012
at 12:29 AM

i would just eat the local cuisine if i were you. try everything, food in italy is generally a much higher quality then it is here. there's a big difference from SAD and the italians Mediterranean diet... also any weight you could potentially gain will almost definitely be offset by the amount of walking i bet youll be doing... when you're making your own meals eat paleo but other than that don't stress it, it's only 2 months. try the delicious pizza, gelato, pastries and even indulge in the world famous pasta dishes... i know this is paleo blasphemy but you only live once and as long as you don't have any serious allergies i can't see how you could gain anything from restricting yourself from one of the greatest cuisines in the world. just my 2 cents hope you have a great time.

C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

(1631)

on April 20, 2012
at 05:00 AM

Agreed. I would cook paleo at home. When going out enjoy some delicious pasta and bread! It's not going to kill you and is enjoyable :)

2
F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on April 20, 2012
at 03:14 PM

I wasn't paleo when I went to Italy, but I was trying to stay lower carb/higher protein and really it wasn't hard. I had delicous steaks and vegetables and caprese salads and yummy bits of marinated things. I also had a fair amount of gelato, but it's crazy good and the portions are a lot smaller than here.

And for the rest of your question - the wine there is sulfate-free and so much easier to drink that it is here. You'll pick up the habit very quickly. But if you want something more of a digestif, grappa is very common.

While you're there, try and make a trip over to Spain. Talk about a paleo-eaters dream.

0
8a525a942a37c3faf3d7ee524e64e57d

on November 28, 2014
at 08:47 PM

Thank you for all the suggestions. Am headed (hopefully) to Italy (Venezia + Firenze) mysef over Xmas and as I am going to be youth hostelling it (no self catering facilities I gather) I was rather worried: my guide book is definitely no paleo oriented! I plan to eat a lof of seafood and fish in Venezia (budget permitting)!

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