In America, healthy eating habits are hard to come by nowadays. People are either to focused on their weight to enjoy foods outside of strict diets, or they’re too engrossed in their hectic lifestyles to view eating as anything more than a nuisance.
Contrastingly, in Europe, sitting down to eat is still kind of a ritual. Europeans have a much more relaxed lifestyle and are much more mindful when it comes to food. Meals usually take an hour or more and they are enjoyed as a time to spend with friends or family, rather than something to just get out of the way. Naturally, not every aspect of this is applicable outside of Europe where schedules are stricter, and people are expected to have lunch in 15 minutes, but some aspects of European eating habits can still benefit Americans.
It’s All About Mindfulness
Whenever possible, actually take the time to prepare your food. Fixing lunch shouldn’t be a quick sprint, don’t rush through the prep. Europeans take their time to go through their ingredients, chop them, and cook them. It might seem unnecessary for those looking for a quick fix, but it’s actually a key step to enjoying the process. Taking the time to work with each ingredient allows you to really process what you’re doing, get in touch with the flavours you’re mixing and enjoy the different smells and textures.
Another thing you can copy is the respect Europeans show for their mealtime. Whether is the Italians extending their dinners well into the night or the Spanish and their 3-hour lunches. Find a day of the week in which you are able to enjoy your meals without worrying about the time, and simply enjoy what you’re doing. Not only will this help you relax, but it will also keep you from overeating. The longer you stay sitting down calmly taking your time to go through your meal, the more chance your stomach has to signal your brain that you’re full, which means you reduce your chance of eating more than you should.
Europeans are also pretty big on sharing the table with big groups of friends, which is part of the reason meals run for hours at a time. And it’s actually an amazing way to catch up with friends, and family, relax and socialize with people in a meaningful way rather than trying to quickly get to know someone before heading back to the office or catching your bus. ‘
Freshness is something you should also keep in mind. While Americans tend to consume more processed foods, Europeans tend to go for fresher options. Due to their environmentally conscious policies, most European countries encourage farm-to-table ingredients and locally grown vegetables, which give their dishes a more authentic and flavorful taste. Though this isn’t always an option for most people budget-wise, making a slow pivot towards fresh and locally grown is one sure-fire way to have healthier, more enjoyable meals at home.
The key to incorporating European habits into your own lifestyle is taking the time to enjoy your meals and always going for quality no matter what. Even if this isn’t something you can do on your day to day, you can at least host one special meal a month.
Your friends will appreciate it!