Continuing the idea of “you are what you eat” mentioned in the previous blog post, I wanted to give a thought to another idea – “you are how you eat”. People that want to be healthy (food wise) tend to focus on what they eat, but they often forget that the way you eat, when you eat and where you eat is also important.
The diet is not the only factor affecting the health of our body. So that you understand better what I have in mind I will make a comparison between French and American habits. This is a generalization so I ask you not to take it too personally. Americans have a habit of eating just to eat. A lot of them don’t really care where they will eat. Food is taken as a necessity for survival. They want it to be filling and fast, so that they can get back to work as quickly as possible. I once heard a story of an Italian friend. His American girlfriend visited him in Rome. As she was so amazed by the city’s architecture she wanted to dedicate as much time as possible to sightseeing. McDonald’s seemed like the right choice for her, despite having many little Tratoria’s (café’s) around.
On the other hand, the French (or the above mentioned Italians) really commemorate every meal they have. For them, the plate has to be a right balance of meat, vegetables, bread and wine (the wine is in a glass). Drinking something other than wine or water is taken as a really bad habit. In addition to that you need time for food. During working hours the French take one hour to have their lunch, while the Americans often take 20 minutes or less. In western European countries looking for the right place to eat becomes sometimes a true hunting game. One person prefers something else than others; some don’t like a given restaurant’s chef etc. It can get really tricky.
What is also very important is our habit to eat regularly. Many experts say that we should eat 5 small portions a day. Obviously, for many of us it isn’t possible, because we are short on time. But, I believe everybody should find time and especially pleasure to eat at least 3 times a day starting with a delicious breakfast, then breaking at 1 PM for some fresh lunch and at least, but not least, having a relaxing dinner with your family. I come from Poland where this is becoming a habit. Many families used to eat an enormous breakfast, snack during the day and when they came home after work or school, between 4 and 6 PM, they ate dinner. Often they would end the day having their midnight snack.
To conclude, I wanted to show you an example that to me shows you precisely where the root of cultural difference may be. In English, at the end of the meal you say: I’m full or I’m satisfied. However, in France you say: J’ai plus faim, which means I’m not hungry any more. Maybe this rule is key to staying healthy? We shouldn’t eat until we are full. Whenever the hunger goes away, let’s just put the plate away!
Posted by Piotr Wielezynski