Kelsey Schoenbacher, MS, RD, LD
MRC The Crossings, League City, Texas
Eating habits are shaped by culture and healthy eating habits are different around the world. French culture views food as associated with pleasure, not health. Mealtimes are an opportunity to immerse yourself in the food and the friends who accompany you. French recipes traditionally use plenty of butter, oils and bread. While these meals may be rich, they are eaten slowly, so total calorie intake may be lower. Contrasting the rich food in France, Greece’s healthy habits include a focus on plant-based food with a small amount of meat, cheese and dairy. In fact, Greece has the highest consumption of vegetables per capita in Europe!
In Japan, fishing is a major industry as well as export, so it is no wonder the traditional diet is full of fish that are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Add to that the cultural practice of making food look attractive with a variety of brightly colored vegetables as well as only eating until one is 80% full, and you have a recipe for success! In China, there are several antioxidant-rich ingredients that are used frequently to promote health, such as garlic and green tea. Indian cuisine features lots of spices, which add flavor, appealing color and surprising health benefits. Several spices such as turmeric, ginger and red pepper may help to lower cholesterol. With all the flavor from these natural spices, there’s no need for a salt shaker!
Eating habits differ from country to country and even within an individual country. Make the most out of each healthy custom by branching out and trying something new!