How do Italians eat breakfast?

italian breakfast habit

Breakfast is very light for Italians.
For breakfast, Italians often drink an espresso or cappuccino. Some even include a delicious pastry.

Italian breakfasts are much lighter than the substantial ones you are used to in other countries.

Some Italians pair coffee with a pastry.
In the bars you can choose from a wide variety of croissants, tarts and cakes. If they want to eat at home instead, they usually opt for a slice of toast with jam or Nutella. Furthermore, some Italians choose milk and cereal. It’s not often you see an Italian eating eggs or pancakes for breakfast.

If you are in a big city like Rome, Milan, or Florence, there are several places where you can have breakfast outside. But they are not places for Italians, but for tourists. Italian hotel breakfast buffets feature a wide variety of pastries, fruit, cheeses, cured meats, bread, and coffee.

Sitting or standing, sipping a coffee or enjoying a tea, munching on a biscuit or nibbling on a brioche, Italians rarely give up breakfast. Few, however, do it correctly.

Most Italians prefer to have breakfast quickly by just having a coffee, perhaps to gain a few more minutes of sleep. However, it has been observed that indulging in a ‘calm’ breakfast of at least 10 minutes can make a difference. Research by Bmj Open states that gulping down food quickly increases the risk of obesity and diabetes by up to 42%.
Consuming the first meal of the day calmly and sitting down gives good satiety and can improve your whole day

Italian breakfast: at home with coffee, milk and biscuits

Italians mainly prefer to have breakfast at home: the inhabitants of the Bel Paese dedicate 15 minutes to it during the week and half an hour on the weekend, preferably with the family, but the young and older people prefer solitude. Milk for men, yogurt for women, and the croissant that everyone can agree on. New entries are healthy foods and, after the last two years, we have added foods that strengthen the immune system to the morning ritual. According to experts, the Italian breakfast is among the healthiest. In recent years, breakfast in Italy has been lighter (42%), faster (32%) and consumed much more at home: in fact, 92% of it is eaten at home.

Those who have breakfast at home love to do it with the family, 65%, especially for the target aged 25 to 54, while 33%, represented by the younger and more mature people, prefer to dedicate themselves to this ritual in complete solitude. It’s difficult to break the habits of Italians.

Coffee (68%) still reigns against tea (22%), which with milk (39%) and biscuits (56%) is still the usual breakfast. Coffee and milk, together with yogurt (39%), fresh fruit (37%,) and honey (30%) are also the foods considered most suitable for an optimal breakfast in terms of nutritional intake. Cereals have now been added to these foods (36%), which have fully entered our tables, directly from American films which have shown us a well-rooted eating habit for decades.

Breakfast during working days and weekends

Are there differences between working days and weekends?
Yes, some of the people who eat breakfast declare that they have different habits, for example, they eat different things (73% of those say there are differences), but time is also a relevant theme: the time at which you eat breakfast (72 %) and the time it takes to do it (64%) are different.

In fact, people who eat breakfast during the week take an average of 13 minutes, while on the weekend they take it more leisurely and take around 18 minutes, the youngest (18-34 years) get up to 21 minutes.

If Italians prefer to have breakfast at home, brunch is instead an imported custom that is very popular and tends to be done outside on the weekends.
More and more Italians love to take it easy on Saturdays or Sundays and try the typical dishes of foreign cuisine in these two meals combined into one.

A predominantly youth phenomenon, brunch on the weekend, is well linked to existing daytime social entertainment moments such as breakfasts outside the home and pre-lunch aperitifs.

The savory breakfast

The savory breakfast, once the prerogative of Anglo-Saxon cultures, is finding space in Italian homes thanks to its health benefits, such as a higher intake of proteins and a lower quantity of refined sugars. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this trend, the benefits of a savory breakfast, and how Italians are rewriting the rules of their breakfast by keeping an eye on health without giving up the pleasure of the palate.

The Turn Towards Savory

In recent years, there has been a slow but steady change. The growing attention towards physical well-being and nutrition has led Italians to reevaluate their food choices, including breakfast. The introduction of salty elements in the morning responds to the search for a more balanced diet, which can offer a more gradual and sustained release of energy during the morning. Eggs, low-fat cheeses, smoked salmon and wholemeal bread are starting to appear on tables, replacing more traditional desserts.

Why the Savory Breakfast? Benefits and Motivations

The turn towards a savory breakfast among Italians is not just a question of fashion or a change in personal tastes. There are very specific reasons behind this trend, supported by scientific studies, as we have seen in the previous paragraph, which highlights the benefits of a breakfast rich in proteins and low in simple sugars.

Below we will try to explore what the main benefits of this food choice are and why it is becoming increasingly popular.

Greater protein intake

Proteins are essential for our body, especially in the morning, as they help to satiate, maintain muscle mass, and regulate the metabolism. Savory breakfasts, often featuring eggs, low-fat cheeses, Greek yogurt, or salmon, offer a higher protein content than traditional sweet options. This protein intake is particularly appreciated by those who practice sports or try to maintain a balanced diet.

Weight Control and Satiety

One of the main benefits of a savory breakfast is its impact on weight control. Foods rich in protein and fiber tend to fill you up more and for longer, reducing the tendency to eat snacks during the morning. Studies have shown that people who eat a protein-rich breakfast tend to eat fewer calories throughout the day, making it easier to control their weight.

Improved Cognitive Performance

Breakfast significantly affects our cognitive performance. Salty, protein-rich foods can help improve concentration and cognitive function due to their ability to stabilize blood glucose levels. This aspect is crucial not only for adults at work but also for children and adolescents at school.

Variety and Nutritional Balance

A savory breakfast opens the door to greater dietary variety, allowing you to include vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats from the early hours of the day. This not only contributes to a more varied and balanced diet, but also encourages the discovery of new flavors and food combinations.

Prevention of Glycemic Spikes

Finally, replacing simple carbohydrates with options higher in protein and healthy fats can help prevent the blood sugar spikes that often follow eating traditionally sweet breakfasts. This aspect is particularly important for those suffering from diabetes or for those who want to prevent its onset.

What do Italians eat for a savory breakfast today?

The savory breakfast has introduced a wide variety of food options to Italian tables, ranging from traditional ingredients to more innovative and healthy choices. Let’s see which foods are gaining popularity and how they are integrated into morning routines.

Eggs in All Sauces

Eggs are one of the most versatile choices for a savory breakfast. Rich in proteins and essential nutrients, they are consumed in various ways: boiled, scrambled, poached, or as part of omelettes, enriched with seasonal vegetables. This flexibility makes them an ideal option for starting the day with energy and satiety.

Avocado, the King of Superfoods

Avocado has established itself as one of the most popular superfoods in savory breakfasts, thanks to its high content of healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins. Spread on whole wheat bread or paired with slices of smoked salmon, avocado adds a touch of creaminess and nourishment, contributing to a balanced and tasty breakfast.

Whole grains and seeds

Whole grains, such as oats, spelt, barley, and seeds, such as chia or flax, offer an excellent supply of fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients. Used to prepare porridge, savory pancakes, or as a base for tasty homemade muesli, these foods ensure a start to the day full of energy and prosperity.

Low-Fat Cheeses and Greek Yogurt

Low-fat cheeses and Greek yogurt are perfect for those looking for a protein alternative that is less heavy than meat. Excellent consumed alone, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or as ingredients in rich salads or smoothies, they provide calcium and probiotics, fundamental for the health of the digestive system.

Smoked Salmon and Other Proteins

Smoked salmon, along with other lean protein sources like turkey, offers an option rich in Omega-3s and high-quality protein. Accompanied by whole wheat bread or fresh salads, it guarantees a balanced and tasty morning meal.

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