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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Eating like Italians

Photo credit: David Molina

As a full-time college student, I know the struggle of preparing satisfying and healthy meals on a daily basis.

Every meal was a struggle before studying abroad in Viterbo, Italy, and became exposed to the Italian diet.

The Italian diet is ideal for a busy college student because the meals keep the body feeling full all day, are healthy, cheap and not terrible for people who want to stay in shape.

It was difficult adjusting to American eating habits after returning from Italy but here is a guide for a few Italian-style meals perfect for college students.


Italians keep breakfast light. Coffee is a must and often accompanied by a croissant or sweet pastry.

This may sound like a sugar spike but it’s a breakfast that is sure to wake anyone up and get them out the door.

Hearty American breakfasts often leave students too full and ready to go back to bed after eating.


Pasta or spaghetti are a must during lunchtime. Most Americans would think this is a high carb meal that serves little benefit to the body but high carb meals, if prepared correctly, can be eaten every day with no weight gain.

Spaghetti in Italy is always cooked al dente. The firmer the noodle is the longer it will take your body to digest. This is healthy because slower digestion means a lower spike in blood sugar. The fat in the noodles also has a harder time sticking to fat cells.

Instead of throwing on heavy sauces, like white alfredo sauce that no Italian has even eaten, opt for something simple.

My favorite way to eat spaghetti is with olive oil, pepper and some shredded mozzarella cheese. It is simple yet filling and delicious.


Italians eat dinner later than most Americans do.

To make sure no one feels as though they are starving at any point during the day, between the hours of 6 and 8:30 p.m., Italians have what they call aperitivo.This is the time most Italians go out after work and school to meet with friends over drinks and light snacks.

These snacks often include tiny sandwiches, almonds, potato chips, peanuts, bruschetta and sometimes even a little more pasta.These snacks are all filling and tend to hold everyone over until dinner.

Dinner usually consists of a piece of chicken or steak with a side of vegetables.

The ingredients used are cheap and easy to come by. These meals are also quick to prepare. Dinner may take a little longer to cook but that is often the time students are at home and wrapping up their day. Everyone should give the Italian diet a shot and see if it’s their thing.

Mina Marjanovic can be reached at [email protected] or @marjanovicmina6 on Twitter.

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David Molina, Graphic Designer

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  • T

    Toni Criscuolo // Dec 25, 2016 at 7:12 am

    I guess the whole “meat every day” has arrived in Italy but that is not the traditional fare in the South. Most Italian meals include lots of veggies, pasta, bread. At least, that is my experience. Now that Italy is rich, they can lay on the meats— but be careful!!!

  • F

    Francesca // Dec 20, 2016 at 6:46 am

    Love it all, especially the reason of the “al dente” and how breakfast is a ritual that has never changed in generations. The rest is pretty close, but not AS it is in real life.
    Lunch: over pasta you grate real Parmigiano Reggiano, if you opt for mozzarella, that’ll make it “pasta alla Norma” fresh tomatoes sauteed in extra virgin olive oil, oreganon and chunks of mozzarella, fior di latte o di Bufala.
    Dinner: it’s rarely a chicken, unless it’s a whole roasted one, we love our cold cuts (Prosciutto di Parma or San Daniele, breasaola), lots of fish, vegetable quiche called “frittata”, cheese, veal, and it’s really a seasonal thing. Summer can be a tomato and mozzarella Caprese, winter we go for earthy polenta with stews or porcini or truffle on eggs.
    I could go on forever and I am hungry already.