If you’re interested in switching up your current lifestyle and want to become more health-focused, then you might currently be interested in learning a little more about the coveted Sicilian Diet.

Considered to be a lifestyle choice rather than a “diet”, many people consider the Sicilian way to be the secret of a long, happy and healthy life – but is it a good option for everyone?

If you’ve already begun doing a little bit of research into the Sicilian diet, then you might have learned that Sicily is no stranger to centenarians and even supercentenarians, who are people that live upwards of at least 100 years or longer.

The prevalence of Sicilians living exceptionally long lives has led many to believe that their way of eating and living is the key, and the great news is that it’s a diet that can be enjoyed by all.

Blending delicious ingredients with plenty of nutrition – the Sicilian diet has been a hot topic for years and shows no signs of stopping, and we’re here to talk you through it.

To explore the Sicilian diet more and uncover the main takeaways that we can learn from it, we’re going to be talking you through the key fundamentals of the Sicilian lifestyle, its potential benefits, and how you can incorporate it into your own lifestyle. Ready? Read on.

What Is The Sicilian Diet?

If you weren’t already aware, Sicily is an island that is located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and is the largest of all the different islands located on the Mediterranean.

As the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily is an island that is abundant in freshwater, long harvest seasons, a pleasant climate, lots of rolling hills, countryside, as well as plenty of volcanic soil.

For these reasons, the people of Sicily were initially a civilization that placed agriculture at the forefront of everything they did and made good use of the plentiful resources around them to grow hearty and delicious vegetables, fruits, and more.

As time went on, the Sicilian people also went on to utilize the Mediterranean sea surrounding them, and soon began to incorporate various types of seafood into their dishes.

To this very day, the homestead nature of the Sicilian people has persevered, and many modern-day Sicilians follow a similar food lifestyle to that of their ancestors.

With all of that being said, it should come as no surprise to hear that the Sicilian diet is very similar to that of the standard Mediterranean diet – which is a similar diet typically seen in Spain and Greece that focuses on heart-healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits.

However, unlike the Mediterranean diet, the main standout feature of the Sicilian diet is its simplicity.

Combining a variety of simple carbohydrates with a variety of complex carbohydrates typically taken from local farmers, Sicilians are known for modest diets that incorporate plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes, olive oil, nuts, seeds, chicken, fish, and, of course, the occasional glass of wine.

To give you a greater understanding of what that might look like in day-to-day life, a typical Sicilian will consume around 1,200 calories a day, and will usually eat a small breakfast consisting of milk and bread, a small lunch of pasta or seafood, and then a light dinner of chicken, eggs, and legumes.

It is also worth noting that the Sicilians are not known to frequently snack, and if they do, it is usually on either fruit, nuts, or seeds.

It might also be of interest to note that, in accordance with a traditional Sicilian diet, Sicilians will vary their diet in accordance with the time of the year, as they are a nation that is known for farming, fishing, and agriculture.

So, with that being said, they will typically find themselves eating two or three kinds of vegetables one month, and then two or three different types the following simply due to the changing of seasons and time of year.

Fun fact: Besides being known for their healthy and hearty lifestyle, the Sicilian people are also known for creating the very first dessert, and it is deemed that the first dessert was consumed in Sicily.

According to legend, the dessert in question was a delicious ricotta cheese drizzled in honey and was named Cuccia. To this day, Cuccia is a popular dessert native to Sicily!

What Are The Benefits Of A Sicilian Diet?

As we have already touched upon above, Sicily is a nation of people that are home to a lot of centenarians – so it should come as no surprise to hear that there are a vast array of benefits that come along with following the Sicilian way.

Alongside all of the heart-healthy meats and omega-rich fish that are able to encourage a lower cholesterol level, Sicilians are also known for their high fruit, vegetable, and oil intake which are all able to provide the body with monounsaturated fats, polyphenols, vitamins, minerals and much more.

It is also worth noting that another large benefit of the Sicilian diet is its ability to help encourage healthy blood sugar levels, as well as low blood pressure.

This is thanks to the fact that unlike many other civilizations around the world, Sicilian’s tend to keep white bread, processed foods, sugary snacks, canned foods and many more kinds of refined carbohydrates at a minimum.

Sicilian Food Traditions

All in all, it’s easy to see how much the Sicilian diet differs from various other diets around the world.

Contrary to other popular diets and lifestyles, the Sicilians are known for following a relatively simple diet that borders on modest and is not known for indulging in processed foods, foods high in saturated fats, as well as foods that are full of added sugars and preservatives.

Instead, the typical Sicilian diet consists of small portions that equate to an average calorie intake of around 1,200 calories per day, and are known for eating simple dishes that consist of bread, pasta, vegetables, meat, and plenty of seafood.

In addition to all of that, it is also worth noting that the majority of food eaten by the Sicilians comes from local farms and fresh produce shops/markets.

So, what can we learn from the Sicilian diet? In our opinion, we think that it’s clear to see from what we’ve talked about above that simplicity is sometimes key, and the Sicilians demonstrate this perfectly.

Instead of opting for frozen meals, takeaway food, sugary drinks, and other unhealthy food options – the Sicilian people instead opt to eat fresh produce, heart-healthy meats, and fortifying seeds, nuts, and grains, which is able to give their bodies everything they need to survive while also keeping the risk of developing several illnesses at bay.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to give the Sicilian diet a try, why don’t you begin to incorporate some of its key values into your current lifestyle?

Instead of sugary snacks or unhealthy takeaways, consider shopping at your local fresh produce market or wholesale store. Who knows, you might just find yourself converted to the food habits of the Sicilians.

Rick Zullo

Former doctor, current science teacher, and life-long food lover, Rick's passion for Mediterranean cuisine was ignited while living as an expat in Rome, Italy. 


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