Our health is affected by many factors, and one of these is our eating habits — what food we eat and how we eat them.
We all need to eat to live, but at some point you might get tired of what you have on your pantry or in your fridge and how you consume them. And with conflicting nutritional advice out there, you would probably feel confused and conflicted as to what approach you have to take in order to change your eating habits.
Fret not, because there are alternative approaches to eating that brought the countries using them a variety of health benefits, which range from improved satiety to lowered obesity risk. For a more different and healthier approach to eating, here are some strategies from international cuisines that you need to apply to your diet now:
Vietnam: Start Your Day With Soup
A breakfast staple in Vietnam, Pho is a broth-based rice noodle soup that contains vegetables and sometimes meat, usually beef or chicken.
A bowl of hot soup is sure to satisfy your morning every day, giving you an opportunity to add a vegetable or two to a meal that often contains none. Most soups are low in sugar and saturated fats, both of which are present in a traditional American breakfast. One bowl of soup usually packs a high amount of food for a low calorie count.
According to Susan Roberts, senior nutritional scientist at Tufts University, the mixture of liquids and solids in some soups makes them good both in suppressing hunger and in making you more satisfied after a meal.
One drawback when it comes to most soups, canned or boxed, is their high sodium content, so either find low-sodium soups in the supermarket or just make your own.
India: Add Plant-Based Protein
A dietary staple in Indian cuisine, “dal” can mean lentils or a traditional lentil-based thick stew or soup.
Low in calories and virtually fat-free, lentils and other pulses are high in protein, fiber, calcium and folate. “Diets rich in lentils and other legumes are linked to lower rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Becky Ramsing, registered dietitian nutritionist and senior program officer at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, said.
Regular consumption of legumes has been shown by research to have a variety of health benefits. An analysis of 26 studies found that about half a cup of pulses daily lowers “bad” cholesterol levels by 6.6 milligrams/dL. Some research has shown that lentils may also protect against type 2 diabetes and promote weight loss.
Greece: Eat Healthy Fats
A vital part of a Mediterranean diet, olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, avocados and other sources of healthy fats are plentiful among Greeks.
A 2018 study found that adults aged 65 and above practicing a Mediterranean diet have 25 percent lower risk of dying from any cause. Fats found in food are unavoidable, but you should stick to consuming monounsaturated and polyunsaturated varieties instead of the unhealthier saturated ones.
A study that looked at a Mediterranean diet with added extra-virgin olive oil and nuts found that eating extra healthy fats reduces cardiovascular disease risk by 30 percent. Since they are also high in calories, healthy fats are great substitutes for more unhealthy food choices. For example, a handful of nuts delivers the same satisfaction normally brought by high-calorie potato chips.
Brazil: Stick To Whole Food
In 2014, the Brazilian government issued guidelines that emphasized consumption of whole foods and avoiding ultra-processed ones such as those found in fast food restaurants and prepackaged meals, earning the praise of professional nutritionists.
This back-to-basics way of eating automatically reduces your calories and limits your consumption of sodium, sugar and unhealthy saturated fats. It also amps up your fiber intake since you will be eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Italy: Slow Your Pace
As the Italians have proven, meals are not just an opportunity to get food; they are great for bonding with friends and family.
Taking your meals slow gives you time to enjoy interacting with the people you hold dear. “The social aspect becomes more of a priority rather than just eating all that you possibly can as fast as you can,” Penny Kris-Etherton, registered dietitian and nutrition professor at Penn State University, said.
The satiety hormones that signal your brain that you are full are shown by research to take about 20 minutes to be released. “If you eat too fast, that mechanism hasn’t kicked in yet, so you override your natural satiety triggers and overeat,” Kris-Etherton added. This has been tested and proven by a 2019 study that involved participants eating a 600-calorie meal in 6 or 24 minutes.