I have reached a place in my life that has afforded the opportunity to travel abroad. I truly enjoy visiting different countries and different cultures, seeing how people live, and, of course, how they eat. Obesity is a much less prevalent issue pretty much everywhere else in the world, and I’m not just referring to countries that struggle with poverty. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to places like India where sixty percent of the population lives below the poverty level, but I’ve also been to places like France, where they nearly idolize their food. The first time I returned from a vacation in Paris, my friends asked me what my favorite part of my trip was and there was no hesitation before I replied “the food.” The sites were amazing and it truly was a beautiful city, but the food was to die for. Whether it was the seven course meal at the top of the Eifel Tower, the five course lunches that we ate daily, or the constant stops to the corner bakeries; it was all amazing. The buttery sauces, the soft, flaky pastries, and the rich desserts were all wonderful. I kept thinking ‘if I ate like this every day, I’d be huge!’ but as I traveled around, I realized obesity wasn’t as prevalent as my mind had expected it to be. In fact, most French people were quite slender…so what is the difference?
Seeing as this is the internet and it is my God-given right to post completely biased and unresearched opinions at any time; I have decided to post my theory on the subject. (Just be happy that I am qualifying my uninformed opinions rather than spouting them as unequivocal truth). Here’s what I observed. I noticed that I was walking a lot—the words a lot deserve special emphasis—in fact, everyone was walking pretty much everywhere. It was easier to get around because everything seemed so close together; if we couldn’t walk where we wanted to go then it was usually just a short bus ride away. Next, the portions are much smaller than here in the US. Which meant that while a seven course meal might seem like a lot; in the end, it is probably actually less food and less calories. They also ate extremely slow. One might even venture to say frustratingly slow; it certainly drove me crazy at times. Rarely have I ever sat down for a 2 hour lunch or a 4 hour dinner and never have I done it without something besides the food to occupy the time. Lunch meetings or dinner parties; yes, but every day focusing on just the food seemed so strange.
I’m sure there are other reasons they are so much skinnier than us—maybe even scientific ones—but I feel we could take a page from their book right here. Eating smaller portions and start walking more, might seem pretty obvious, but what about slowing down our meals? How many of us rush to the nearest fast food restaurant and quickly devour our meal in order to get back in our allotted 30 minute lunch break? It’s unfortunate because there might be some real benefit to taking a breather and stopping to enjoy the food we eat.Go On Vacation and Come Home Slimmer!