Can American Change?

Can America change is going to be the question that is asked quite a bit in the immediate future.  Most of it will be surrounding the political spectrum of elections. Can we switch from a Democrat President to a Republican and have things get better?  Can we change the House and the Senate and have things get better?  Can your local officials change the way they have been conducting business for the betterment of the people?  This is not a political blog so I will not go into my rants about any of these (Jeff – feel free to leave your opinion below as they are always welcomed.)  Although if this were a political blog I would be the Secretary of Health and Human Services thanks to Kevin for nominating me for the position.  Read Kevin’s post as it could lead America to change.

No, what I’m talking about is the way we eat.  Can we change the way we eat?  Let’s think about this for a moment.  We import just about everything these days from steel to lumber to textiles so why not diet?  Are we so consumed with who we are and what we do that we cannot for a moment take a look at other cultures and think for ourselves that what they are doing might be better for us?  I know we are exporting McDonald’s and Taco Bell to these countries, but even there the menu items are catered to their culture.  Watch this feature to see how McDonald’s is expanding overseas.

When I lived in New York and went to eat at Italian friend’s houses for dinner I knew I was in for a MEAL.  A meal with conversation and laughter.  A meal with many different items, all made fresh and not from a box.  A meal that would take all night to enjoy because you were having fun.  Eating that dinner was not just something to do but something to participate in.  I loved going to their houses for meals and spending the night laughing and cooking and cleaning and laughing and talking.  That is what dinner is all about.  I shared the same feelings when I went to my Portuguese friends home.  His mother would literally tell you that you haven’t eaten enough even though you were there for 4 hours and the fork never left your hand.  You didn’t mind because you knew it was freshly grown and homemade by her hands.  You would then laugh and push the plate away only to be given a to go plate.

Yesterday these memories came rushing forward when I was on Twitter and Lindsey Cotter tagged an article with the terms interesting read.  Lindsey is a terrific cook and the wife to a pro triathlete (James Cotter) so you know that if she said an article was interesting I was clicking on it. As it turns out she was right.  The article was about healthy eating tips from around the world.  The article written by Chris Illeades, M.D. for everyday health looks at a few different cultures and points out how they eat and why it is considered healthy.


Smaller Portions In French Culture

From the French we can learn portion control:

  • Serve smaller amounts. Studies show that people feel obliged to eat more if more is on their plate. Make smaller portions at home, and try splitting an entrée when you go out to eat.
  • Use smaller plates. Your grandmother’s plates were quite a bit smaller than today’s plates. Try serving meals on smaller plates to help keep portion sizes under control.
  • “Ruin” your appetite before the main course. Start with a cup of soup or a salad and you won’t need to supersize your portions.

Italians At A Sit Down Dinner

From the Italians we can learn to eat slower:

  • Watch the clock. “It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full,” explains Blake. Make sure you eat slowly enough to know when you feel full and avoid overeating.
  • Eat your largest meal for lunch. If you can, even if only on weekends, enjoy a leisurely meal early in the afternoon and then just have a light meal in the evening.
  • Eat mindfully. “When you eat mindlessly on the run or in front of the TV, you are more likely to eat more than you should,” says Blake. Put aside other distractions during meals.

Japanese Cuisine Highlighting Seafood and Fruit

From the Japanese we can learn to incorporate vegetables and fruit:

  • Eat fewer processed foods. The Japanese rely much more on fresh seasonal ingredients for their dishes.
  • Use colorful fruits and vegetables to add eye appeal. The Japanese concentrate on smaller portions that look beautiful and are as appealing to the eye as to the stomach. They tend to eat more for the experience than to feel full.
  • Favor seafood over red meat. When meat is eaten in Japan, it is rarely a main ingredient.

Healthy Fats Are Incorporated Into Mediterranean Cuisine

From the meditteranean we can learn to eat healthy fats:

  • Focus on fruits and vegetables. Mediterranean diets include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, plus lots of fish and beans as protein sources.
  • Switch to monounsaturated fat. Instead of cooking with butter, people in the Mediterranean rely on olive oil, a monounsaturated fat, the healthy type of fat.
  • Sip some wine. People in Mediterranean countries drink a moderate amount of wine with their meals, which may benefit your heart health.
Virtually all other cultures don’t eat a heavy dessert but instead chose fruit for its sweetness as their dessert.

If we take one piece from each of these and incorporate it into one day of eating we would be better off.  Serve your dinner on the dessert plate and you knock two of them out of the park (French portion control and skipping dessert.)  While eating your dinner ask your spouse or significant other how their day went with the TV off and phones away (Italian savoring of the meal.)  Do a meatless Monday so that you are skipping the red meat in favor of vegetables (Japanese.)

So I challenge you to change the way you eat today and every Monday for that matter.  Make this one small simple change and within three weeks it will be habit.  We might, just might, change the way America eat.  At least I hope so.



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  1. Matt Oravec says:

    good stuff buddy. great pointers here!
    Matt Oravec recently posted..17HMR Bullet HolderMy Profile

  2. Great post…I love to look at food in a more global sense b/c most countries nourish themselves better than we do. Not only in terms of what is eaten, but how and when it is consumed. Like you point out, the meal is an event, a way to connect, not something that is rushed through while watching Punk’d. Or double dutch.
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..10 Ways To Survive Your Injury Without Being a B*tchMy Profile

  3. Bob says:

    Did I read that right? Did you say when the Republicans take over all will be well? You are absolutely correct !! No, this isn’t Jeff… it’s another gun toting soon to be Texan!!

    Now sitting around with your friends and enjoying a 4 hour progressive gorge? Nothing wrong at all with that in my opinion. You just do it every week. Moderation… even with bad stuff… it’s what life is all about..
    Bob recently posted..Perfecting IronmanMy Profile

  4. Change starts at the individual level. Can it be influenced at the cultural level? Sure – your point as to smaller portions in Europe and a proper meal as a social event and not just shoving food down your throat speak to that.

    But don’t expect America to be a good influence in this dept any time soon. First off, forget Democrats and Republicans and any “healthy eating/living” plan they may bring to the table – that’s all a pile of turds unless you consider dumbing every issue down to a black and a white so it sits well in a 24 hour news cycle is an important part of the political process, which I’m sure you don’t.

    Special interests run the country. The food industry is a huge SIG, and they are not interested in quality. They’d rather placate us with “low-fat”, “healthy” and “no trans fat” choices, which, by the way (and as you know), is another pile of turds. They are giving away nothing, improving only incrementally and then spin it just like they cured cancer. All this = total BS. The fact is, producing quality foods en mass at a price most are willing to pay and/or a margin acceptable to the markets is impossible.

    Yep, we are on our own. That’s why blogs like yours are important – you keep hammering a more balanced and healthy (no pun intended) view.
    Patrick Mahoney recently posted..I’m Back/Going ForwardMy Profile

  5. DR says:

    21 year old Ricky Rubio was coming to MN earlier this year for his first year wiith the T-Wolves. Everyone was concerned with how he would adapt to American culture. Which is funny in itself b/c I think Americans are the ones that have a hard time adapting when abroad as things are not “American” – and Europeans especially travel well and have a much easier time in general than our country…
    So on of the local channels was interviewing him and asked how is he doing and acclimating to American life. to which Ricky said “well at the gas station fueling up the other day….and boy here in the U.S when you get a bag of chips you REALLY get a bag of chips”

    lol that says it alll

    i tried the smaller plate thing – but I then need two plates

  6. BDD says:

    i have said this before and will say it again, we live in a lazy society, we demand things now, not later, people think running through a drive through is quicker then cooking a meal, because they need to sit down and watch 3-4 hours of TV at night, Its a personal choice to do this, marketing people at these resturants and stores are well aware of this, till society changes, the stores wont, they just supply the demand society gives them and laugh all the way to the bank

    Plus, once congress passes my bike only law, it will dramtically change obesity here in America
    BDD recently posted..Off Season Report CardMy Profile

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