Wander the streets of Paris, Milan, or Barcelona, and check out the thin, fit locals.
Europeans enjoy cream sauces, ample breads and pastas, and don’t skimp on meats, cheeses or desserts. How is it that they stay so thin?
Here are a few observations about the eating and cultural habits that make a difference in Europe:
“Europeans eat mostly wonderful, fiber rich whole foods and almost no packaged, processed garbage. They would never think of picking up food at a drive-thru window and eating in their cars,” says Diane Falanga, a frequent overseas traveler.
Europeans shop often and prepare their own meals. Chiara McGrath, an Italian friend from Florence makes a quick stop at a local fresh market for that day’s meals. She prepares fresh pasta with vegetables and a salad, and serves the meal with fresh bread all in about 20 minutes.
Europeans eat a big breakfast. Tia Raines, Ph.D. a nutrition researcher, observes that “their breakfast is very different. It’s usually meat and cheese or eggs with vegetable sides like tomatoes. It’s very filling relative to what we eat here in America.”
“They eat only until they are full and satiated” another observation from Falanga. “They don’t snack a lot and eat reasonable portions. The “American super-sized” nonsense does not exist.”
Dining is an experience for three, well-prepared meals a day. It’s social, shared with family and friends. They enjoy each course—taking their time, eating slowly and appreciating the various flavors. Raines notes that “there is little stress in that culture. No one is quickly doing anything there, including eating.” Celebratory meals can last for five hours or more with lavish presentations of each course.
They drink water at every meal and when they are thirsty, according to McGrath’s husband, Mike, an expat living in Florence. He notes that they always opt for water over soda.
Europeans walk everywhere. Cities favor pedestrians, with many streets accessible only by foot. While hiking to a restaurant in a Swiss mountain hamlet, we were impressed with the number of elderly hikers, some with walking sticks, and young children smiling as they climbed. Walking is a way of life in Europe.
On the downside, Raines admits, “I think smoking is a huge part of why folks are svelte there. Seems like every single young person has a cigarette in one hand.”
So skip the smoking, but incorporate a few of these simple, healthy habits into your routine. Add a scarf and some pumps and the next time you walk the streets of Paris, you’ll hear, “Mademoiselle…” Thinner, healthier and mistaken for a Parisian—ooh, la la.