There's always something to learn from others, especially when it comes to health and fitness. Let's look at the French: wine, cheese, and bread, yet happy and healthy? They've got secrets. These super strange but genius health tips from around the world can help kickstart your "healthy you" plan and get you right on track towards achieving your wellness goals. I know I'm on board.
As a certified health coach, I'm always looking to improve my own health and find new food trends and tricks that can help my clients. Next time you're starting to slack on your health goals or feel a little out of whack when it comes to your diet, channel the positive attributes these different cultures have to offer. Plus, most of them are super easy to integrate into your diet and lifestyle. Here are 11 weird but totally awesome eating habits and health tricks from around the world that you should be following now. You can even combine a few different ones to see what works for you and how well you can progress on become the fitness star you're destined to be.
1. Focus On The Joy Of Eating
According to Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, Nutrition Consultant @ Shaw's Simple Swaps, over email with Bustle, "It's not new, but, research continues to point to the theory of the French pattern of eating as a great way to manage your weight while still enjoying the foods that you love. The premise: eat food based on pleasure instead of the perceived health of the food." When you focus on enjoying yourself, not depriving and not being too stingy with health, you'll have a better balance overall, explains Shaw.
2. Be Mindful When Eating
Another from French culture, Shaw recommends using mindful techniques to help you slow down and really savor each bite. This will lead to filling you up easier, preventing overeating, and just slowing down and being present in the moment, in general.
3. Use Chopsticks
According to transformational coach and healthy lifestyle coach Liz Traines, over email with Bustle, using chopsticks, a staple within Asian cultures, can help you slow down when eating and stop when you're full. By taking smaller, less frequent bites, you're able to figure out when you're satisfied, explains Traines.
4. Add Tons Of Spices
Traines recommends channeling the cuisine across Asia and India, as both typically use lots of spices in their dishes. For instance, curry and turmeric can suppress appetite, and spicy chili sauce in beef and broccoli, a signature in Chinese takeout, can speed your metabolism and fill you up fast and ultimately help you from eating past when you're actually full.
5. Eat Until You're 80 Percent Full
In Japanese culture, particularly amongst the Okinawan people, it's standard to eat until you're 80 percent full to check in with yourself before finishing the plate (and perhaps eating more than you really needed to be satisfied), explained psychotherapist Irene Rubaum-Keller to The Huffington Post. This way, you can avoid any uncomfortable bloating and will be able to reflect on whether or not you're actually full before eating more.
6. Drink Green Tea Before & After Meals
In China, people often drink green tea before and after meals (though not during, as it can interfere with proper digestion), and a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2010 explained that green tea consumption can speed metabolism. Likewise, you can also take a tip from South America and have rooibos tea; it's been shown to aid in metabolism and weight management, per a study published in 2009 in “Phytomedicine."
7. Eat A Mediterranean Diet
Touted as an optimal diet for heart health, the Mediterranean diet is packed with fruits, vegetables, olive oil (with omega 3 fatty acids to promote longevity), fish, and whole grains, with little consumption of fried foods, red meat, and processed dishes. By following this type of diet, you can easily start feeling healthier and happier each day, explained Rachel Johnson, PhD, MPH, RD to Eating Well.
8. Have Soup As An Appetizer
While some people opt for soup during a chilly evening, it's not nearly as common as it is in Asian culture, where people typically start with a soup before heading to the main course. Having soup before your main dish will fill your belly up and help you better control portion size for the remainder of your meal, said Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD to Health. It is essentially a way to avoid diving head-first into a meal due to hunger and in turn gives you the opportunity to be more mindful about eating your main course.
9. Eat Home More Often
According to Melodie Yong, dietitian for the Heart and Lung Institute of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, to Best Health, people in Poland eat out rarely, typically spending only 5 percent their income on outside food. Yong says that eating home can cut unhealthy additives, leading to more energy.
10. Cycle During The Day
Yes, you might see a few cyclists commuting to work or taking a leisurely stroll on a weekend, but for the most part, people are usually sitting in cars. According to Judith J. Wurtman, PhD, to Psychology Today, despite the Dutch's local cuisine of high-fat foods and condiments, they're slim because they ride a bike pretty much everywhere. Try and incorporate more exercise in daily commutes, as well as after meals (a ride or walk, perhaps) to have a healthier diet and lifestyle.
11. Don't Eat Bread As An Appetizer
According to Dean Allen, author of the "Global Etiquette Guide" series to CNN, it's rude to eat bread as an appetizer or before your meal begins in France (whereas in America, once the bread basket arrives first-thing, it's fair game). This will help you fill up on healthier foods, rather than eating excess bread due to hunger.
If you follow some of these tips, you might surprise yourself in feeling more energetic, healthier, and happier overall.