Adapted from a 2007 article at CookingLight.com about five healthy eating habits learned from the traditional diets of cultures around the world.
1. Eat plenty of produce and whole grains
Traditionally in China, the diet consists primarily of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. And in Greece, vegetables and legumes are main meals, not just side dishes. Three servings or more a day of produce can lower the risk of stroke, heart disease and some cancers, according to research cited in the article. On a vegetarian diet, this habit comes naturally.
2. Savor leisurely dining
“Eating comfortably and slowly discourages overeating and fosters relaxation, which aids digestion. The body processes food more easily and efficiently when it’s calm.” One of Greece’s dietary guidelines (its version of Canada’s food guide) is to “eat slowly, preferably at regular times of the day, and in a pleasant environment.”
3. Practice portion control
An average meal in France is 25 percent smaller than one in United States. A recent American study found that a typical single-serving yogurt container was 82 percent larger than one offered in Paris, and a soft drink was 52 percent larger. “In Japan, foods also come in smaller sizes and are often eaten out of bowls, rather than large plates or platters.”
4: Eat a variety of unprocessed, fresh foods
“Studies show that fresh foods provide more fiber; fewer calories, saturated fats, and trans fats; and less added salt and sugar.” Farmers’ markets are one of the best places to find farm-fresh foods.
5: Spice up your plate
A mainstay in the cuisines of India, China and Southeast Asia, herbs and spices add flair and flavour to food without added calories or fat. Herbs, such as garlic, thyme and rosemary, and spices, like cinnamon, cloves and turmeric, may also fight disease. “One 40-day study of 60 people with type-2 diabetes found that consuming half a teaspoon of cinnamon twice daily significantly lowered subjects’ blood sugar and cholesterol levels.”