By Annie Tucker Morgan, DivineCaroline
When it comes to eating (and many other indulgences), the United States is a culture of excess. To the average American, bigger plus faster equals better; we shovel massive quantities of food and beverages into our mouths on the go, scarcely taking time to taste what we’re consuming … and then we complain about how much weight we’re gaining. Meanwhile, diners in other countries favor moderately sized but well-rounded portions, savor their meals in a leisurely fashion with friends and family members, and make exercise part of their daily life. Is it any surprise, then, that so many people in other cultures sustain enviably trim figures without depriving themselves of culinary enjoyment? Let’s learn how they do it.
Eat at Home More Often Than You Eat Out (Poland)
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend an average of 37 percent of their food budget on eating out, compared with only 5 percent among Poles. No wonder U.S. obesity rates are so high: restaurants here are notorious for serving oversize, calorie- and fat-laden portions. By eating our meals at home, we not only have much more control over the ingredients we put in our mouths, but we also save money and get to spend quality time with our families. It’s a win-win.
Go Nuts for Nuts (Africa)
Packed with protein and often healthy fats, nuts can serve as a nutritious and filling replacement for meat and poultry. In Africa, particularly in Gambia, peanuts are a common complement to vegetables and spices in numerous soups and stews—and perhaps it’s no coincidence that this nation has not only no problems with obesity, but also one of the lowest international incidences of all types of cancer.
Make Friends with Rice and Beans (Brazil)
Americans tend to think of starchy foods as the enemy, but according to a study published in the journal Obesity Research, a diet focused on rice and beans (in contrast with a typical Western diet), such as the kind Brazilians espouse, reduces people’s risk of becoming overweight by approximately 14 percent. Low in fat and high in fiber, it’s a winning combination that stabilizes blood sugar and leaves people feeling satisfied.