I will be working in Sicily, Italy for about a month. Specifically, in Messina. I very much enjoy my keto diet. I assume I will be socializing and going to restaurants with my coworkers.

Will it be possible, both practically and culturally, to eat mostly meat and vegetables while there?

Like for example, when they bring me to a restaurant for dinner, will most restaurants have a "hunk of meat" dish? If I eat only veggies, will everyone look at me like I'm crazy?

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    That only depends to your ability to resist the huge number of Sicilian delicacies (Homer face required here). You can ask everywhere for a salad with tuna or chicken breast... but be prepared to be "that one" Oct 4, 2019 at 17:01
  • @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ That's a big part of my question, about how socially appropriate it will be for me, as a guest to do this. Oct 4, 2019 at 17:38
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    I'm more thinking of the airport manager in Airplane: "Man, I picked the wrong month to do a low carb diet"! :) Oct 5, 2019 at 15:42
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    There were times in Italy I ran into this too, and my solution was to go for Mozzarella Di Dufala based items without starches, e.g. Caprese Salad. Oct 9, 2019 at 7:27

3 Answers 3


I don't know about Sicily specifically but in most of Italy this would not be much of a problem. Italians are big on fruits, vegetables, meat & fish. Of course they are even bigger on pasta and pizza :-).

A typical Italian restaurant menu has multiple sections: antipasti (appetizers), primi (lots of pastas), secondi (generally meats, fish), contorni or insalata (vegetables and salads), formaggi (cheese course), and dolci (desserts).

Almost all restaurants have full sized salads and many appetizers that are carb free or low in carbs. Primi are carb monsters: pasta, gnocchi, etc but Secondi tend to be mostly meat or fish and veggies.

It may cost you though: Secondi tend to be the most expensive things on the menu. A "hunk of meat" does not come cheap in Italy: they often value quality over quantity.

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    Does the secondi have a ton of carb based sauces? Oct 3, 2019 at 22:25
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    Traditional dressings in Italy are oil, vinegar, and balsamic vinegar. If you want to remain carb-free, avoid balsamic dressing and any other dressing that's not pure oil or vinegar, or is a dressing that you recognize from abroad :)
    – STT LCU
    Oct 4, 2019 at 7:57
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    Aren't fruits and vegetables mostly carbs? Salad is 60% carbs, not counting moisture. Oct 4, 2019 at 12:10
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    @ŁukaszKamiński That's true. I don't eat fruit, but comparing romain lettuce (1.2 g non-fiber carbs per 100g) and potatoes (32 non fiber carbs per 100g), there is a substantial difference in the amount of carbs. Oct 4, 2019 at 12:27
  • Anything with sugar is carb, fruits are carbs, in general vegetables are less carb than fruit. Fats are not, cheese, meat and fish are low carb
    – Krupip
    Oct 4, 2019 at 15:08

It is quite typical in Italy to have meat and carbohydrates as separate courses. For example, one of the primi piatti (often pasta) and then one of the secondi piatti (often meat or fish without many sides).

It is very normal to have one or the other rather than both, maybe with an antipasto or a dessert. (http://www.taste-of-italy.com/2014/12/antipasto-primo-secondo-how-to-order.html)

Only ordering from the secondi piatti will likely get the sort of diet you are looking for

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    Does the secondi piatti generally have a ton of sauces and such? Oct 3, 2019 at 19:22
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    @axsvl77. It will very much depend, some dishes may have a lot of sauce, but that won't be the rule for everything. The core of the dish is very often a relatively unadulterated lump of grilled meat or fish. I would be surprised if you couldn't find something suitable. Oct 4, 2019 at 10:28
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    @axsvl77 Not in the way you're thinking of, which is probably the American gravy style sauce with a ton flour and stuff. IF there's sauce, it's usually a tomato or cheese sauce of some kind. Gravy is relatively rare.
    – Demonblack
    Oct 4, 2019 at 12:49

Sicilian here. Consider it basically a non-issue. In Catania and Palermo there are even a few "Keto-Inspired" restaurants where you can require which caloric intake you're going for, but for the most part I can't think of any restaurant/tavern/pub that isn't serving beef/meat with salad. Actually, I think the opposite is way more uncommon.

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