Live Local, Eat Global, Stay Healthy
Published: 25th January 2014 04:03 PM |
Despite their rich cuisine (think butter, foie de gras and brie), French women have the lowest body mass index in Europe. That is because though the French eat for pleasure, they believe in moderation when it comes to consuming their fat-laden delicacies and wine.
The French have also redefined slow food. The length of the average French meal may have decreased in recent years, but it still clocks a leisurely 42 minutes. So instead of stuffing one’s face, the idea is to eat slowly, after all it takes 20 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach is full.
French breakfasts are small, but lunch is a big deal and might include soup, salad, a chicken entrée with at least one vegetable, and a light dessert. Supper is lighter and eaten around 8 or 9. And as the body uses the lunch calories for the rest of the day, fewer turn into body fat.
The French also enjoy a small treat at the end of a meal—a piece of dark chocolate, an espresso, or an after-dinner drink.
The obesity rate in Japan is less than 4 per cent, and why not. The country’s diet has long been touted as one of the healthiest in the world.
Miso soup is part of most meals. According to nutritionists, broth-based soup can help one feel full longer and regulate calorie intake. A study of more than 5,000 people found that women who ate soup five to six times a week were more likely to have healthy BMIs than those who sipped it less.
Colour plays an important part in Japanese meals. They try to incorporate five hues—red, blue-green, yellow, white, and black—into every meal. Adding different shades means you’ll take in more low-cal, high-fibre fruits and vegetables. And the Japanese believe in stopping while ahead. In Okinawa, there’s a popular saying that means “Eat until you’re 80 per cent full.” So, serve yourself only half as much as you normally would. Then wait five minutes once you’ve finished to determine if you still need more.
The Nordic Region
People in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have long had one of the lowest obesity rates in Europe and it could have something to do with the bread they eat. In Scandinavia, the most beloved loaf is rye, which is rich in soluble fibre. That not only makes one feel full, but also lowers cholesterol and glycemic response, causing less glucose in the bloodstream, which means fewer blood sugar spikes and cravings.
Seafood, which is lower in calories and fat than other protein sources, also form a large part of the diet. And much of the fat in the fish that’s popular in Scandinavia—herring, tuna, salmon, mackerel and cod—is heart-healthy Omega-3s. Researchers from University of Iceland found that overweight people who ate three to five servings of cod a week lost more weight than those who scorned seafood. The Nordic diet is also full of cold-climate vegetables—cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts and mushrooms, that makes a lean meal feel heftier.
In one study, people who consumed the traditional diet of the Mediterranean (healthy fats, whole grains, lean protein and red wine) for 25 weeks lost an average of 8 per cent of their body weight.
It calls for an oil change. Extra virgin olive oil, a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, may help control appetite. A study found that the oleic acid it contains triggers production of a hunger-curbing compound in the small intestine. Mediterranean cooks are all about fresh herbs—basil, dill, bay leaf, fennel, and mint—and spices. These weight-loss secret weapons pack serious flavour, allowing you to cut back on high-cal ingredients. Supersized steak dinners are uncommon in the traditional Mediterranean diet; meat plays a supporting role and is used to add flavour.
So go ahead and incorporate the best of the world in your diet.