In today’s world health consciousness is all the rage and yet we continue to stuff our faces with cheap, overly processed, nutritionally lacking food that leaves us hungrier than ever. It’s not a fair argument to say that people just don’t care about what they eat, we care more than ever; high quality, natural and nutritionally dense food just happens to be ridiculously expensive. Most people would prefer to eat exceptionally well if it weren’t for other financial responsibilities.
It is not a foreign concept to want to treat our bodies and minds well through nutrition, it’s just not 100 percent attainable unless you happen to have the access and finances to do so. However, it’s not just about what we eat but how we eat, and frankly, in our usual Western diet we eat too much and too often. As a society, most of us live such hectic lifestyles that we don’t always take the time to truly taste and eat our meals. A healthier lifestyle would include conscious eating practices, which would lead to less weight gain, more positive relationships toward food and an overall better well-being. We ought to change our way of eating since the price of organic avocados isn’t going to drop any time soon.
The following four countries each have a unique set of eating habits that are a much healthier alternative to the western diet. These eating practices focus on quality of food, time spent with friends and family during meals, taking the time to eat and sticking to a regimented eating schedule – all things that actually contribute greatly to our health.
In Italy, breakfast is typically served in the early morning hours and is a light meal consisting of coffee, pastry or fruit. A popular staple at breakfast is a brioche, a type of croissant that can be filled with jam, custard or even decadent chocolate.
Lunch is a heartier meal compared to breakfast, the first course consists of either rice or pasta, and the second course offers either a kind of meat or fish as well as a side of vegetables or a salad. For dessert, cake, ice cream or fresh fruit is served along with a cup of espresso or coffee. A light snack late in the afternoon is reserved for children which consists of something sweet such as bread, fruit or ice cream. Finally we come to dinner; although it is generally assumed that dinner is the heaviest meal of the day in Italy, this all comes down to individual choice.
Dinner is served typically later in the evening and can either be a light meal including a salad, another plate of pasta or it can be a heavy meal consisting of pizza from a restaurant or made at home. Although the Italian diet may consist of more sugar and carbohydrates; the meals are more spread out and more satisfying. So don’t worry about all the pasta, enjoy it!
If you’re looking for a unique method of eating, Morocco has got you covered. The majority of food choices in this country originate from religious practices including Muslim traditions and the annual fasting as part of Ramadan: the holy Islamic month. Breakfast is the lightest meal of the day consisting of bread, butter, jam or olives and is usually consumed any time in the morning.
Lunch is followed during the afternoon and is consumed with various courses. The first course consists of a side of green vegetables or tapas (salads), followed by a second course which consists of a tajine (stew or soup) and finally followed by a main course including foods such as hard boiled eggs, bread, lamb or chicken.
For dinner during the evening hours, the people of Morocco will usually eat whatever food is left over from their lunch hour. An intriguing custom of the Moroccan meal time is their habit of sharing food with another, even sometimes eating off of the same plates and bowls . The Moroccan diet is one that stresses communal sharing and focuses on satisfaction of the person with the meals alternating between light and heavy. Sharing is an excellent way of cutting down on portion sizes.
Although the Western version of Chinese food is known for being overly greasy and fattening, the Chinese eating customs and food could not be further from what we’re accustomed to. Breakfast in China is served typically early in the morning and consists of soya milk, youtiao (fried pastry), noodles and baozi (steamed bread with fillings).
Lunch comes in the afternoon and typically consists of a wide variety of food including rice, noodles, chicken, tofu and vegetables.
Dinner in China is consumed during the late evening and consists of food similar to that consumed at lunch including meat, pork and fish dishes. Like Moroccans, Chinese culture stresses the importance of eating as a way to connect with friends and family. People in China also tend to take longer lunch breaks, as a means of fully enjoying their meal and being re-energized for the rest of the day. There is no such thing as eating on the go.
Last but certainly not least we arrive in France. Similar to Italian cuisine, the French menu is known for high carbohydrate and fattening meals, but their eating customs are well thought out. For breakfast, typical early morning selections include bread, butter, jam, croissants, cereal, orange juice and coffee.
Lunch is typically served beginning in the late morning and is divided into several courses. The first course consists of a starter such as a salad or soup, the second course includes a choice of meat or fish served with a side of potatoes, pasta, rice or assorted vegetables and followed by the final course which consists of an assortment of cheese and desserts including fruit tart or ice cream.
At dinner time, the French will typically eat in the late evening and depending on whether they choose to prepare their meal at home or dine out at a restaurant, it will consist of the same kind of food as consumed at lunch. The main difference is the consumption of what is known as a pre-meal drink, usually wine or another alcoholic beverage which is consumed before dinner. Although the meals commonly served in France may be heavier, they are on the whole very satisfying and leave no room for snacks which can result in overeating. They have a way of making every meal filling so you wouldn’t feel the need to reach for something available and cheap in between meals.