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How European Eating Habits Are Better Than Ours

How the heck does someone lose weight in Europe eating bread and pasta everyday?  No, I’m not advocating for the next anti-paleo movement, but here’s 7 tips I learned from my trip to France and Italy.

1. Food is Savored, Not Scoured

Eating is an experience in Europe, the flavors, smells, tastes and connections made with others are centered around the table.  Take your time to enjoy every bite and every minute of your dining experience.

2. Quality, Not Quantity

The Europeans eat mostly seasonally and strive to maintain freshness for better flavor. Nutrient dense, rich and flavorful food will satisfy your hunger faster and more efficiently than over processed, dead and convenience foods.  Locally produced and seasonal foods are more than 10-fold higher in nutrients than those shipped from lands far away or prepackaged from your nearest store.

3. Slow it Down.

There are usually many layers to a meal in Europe, especially in Italy where pasta is usually the first course of a meal.  Expand your palette by introducing multiple, small portioned dishes to your meals.  This helps to satisfy your hunger later and boosts your nutrient supply than having just one big meal.

4. Shop Small and Frequently.

Plan your meals like your daily schedule.  Grocery shop for a few days in advance, not weeks and be specific about your food choices. Find recipes you want for the next 2-3 days max, prepare a list in advance and know what to expect for cost.    This method will keep your food fresh, reduce mindless snacking and grazing and save you money!  Plus, no more trying to find out what that weird smell and dripping liquid is in the back of your fridge.

5. Get to Know Your Neighbors.

How many have you had a genuine conversation with the butcher or grocer in your neighborhood? Your food is also a labour of love for most people and showing appreciation and gratitude creates positive energy toward your food purchases.

I’ll never forget Luca, the owner at La Bottega Dei Sapori in Tor Vergato.  A simple conversation turned into many trips and a lot of samples of wonderful cheeses and homemade red and white wine donuts.  He made our short stay so welcoming and supplied us with the freshest, most delectable buffalo mozzarella I’ve ever had.

6. Stop Stressing about Your Diet.

The French especially, eat very rich food; butter, sugar, bread and high fat meats are an almost everyday occurrence.  But they are savored in small portions and relished for their powerful flavors adding to each meal.  Food is about enjoyment and nourishment and not about getting your macros in and counting your points.

7. Table Talk.

The old-fashioned dinner table is still in style and it’s definitely not used for storage or collecting dust in Europe; so, put your phones away and gather ‘round – let’s enjoy each other’s company.  It’s a simple way to connect with one another and learn, laugh and lighten up about life. Mindful eating starts by first enjoying the moment you’re in.

I’ve never seen so many restaurants, café’s than in Europe.  It’s not that they’re wealthier and dine out more than staying at home, it’s that the need for an experience while eating is more common than just the convenience of food preparation.  Meals have many courses and often a dining experience lasts many hours.

But more importantly, it’s about the company you are with and disconnecting from the multitude of tasks and focusing on the present.  Who is in your presence, what smells are making your mouth water, what flavors are experiencing?  Use your senses to enlighten your dining atmosphere and appreciate the company you’re keeping.  This will improve your overall body, mind and spirit.

 

What are some eating habits have you learned from other countries or cultures?

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