Diets around the world – Is the U.S. behind?

We have a fat-phobia here in the U.S. We are so afraid of fat that we would rather eat processed crap food than whole foods with saturated fat. And we think our low-fat diet is healthiest even though we are the most obese country.

So what are other countries doing that we aren’t? How are other nations staying lean? had an article about what we could learn from other countries’ diets called “The Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Women.” And while I don’t agree with all of what they wrote, I do think they bring up a great topic for discussion.

And I think the most important thing we can learn from studying other countries, is that eating whole, natural foods is key and that fat…really doesn’t make you fat.

In the article, the author states that French women stay thin because of portion control. And while yes they do use portion control to stay slim while eating butter and cream, I think something more important is being overlooked. It isn’t the small portion that keeps them slim…it is actually the fatty rich foods that do! Butter and cream are minimally processed and low in carbs (check out this article by Mark Sisson about why grass-fed butter is good for you)! And with the full-fat cheese, cream and butter, they consume fresh foods and antioxidant rich wine! Even the baked goods they consume are FRESH…made from FRESH, minimally processed ingredients. And on top of that, they burn the carbs they eat unlike 90% of Americans out there. They walk everywhere!

The article then mentions that “Scandinavians eat farm to table.” This is definitely something we, Americans, don’t do. It is also more proof of how important it is to eat organic, free-range, grass-fed livestock and produce. So shouldn’t we be eating any and all whole foods instead of buying processed low-fat crap? Isn’t a grass-fed steak with some saturated fat better than whole wheat bread which is PROCESSED!?!

Anyway, moving on…The article then highlights the Japanese diet. It states they are so healthy because “they practice hara hachi bu, or eating until 80% full.” And people think I’m crazy when I fast? How is fasting any different from calorie restriction by eating till only 80% full? UHM…IT ISN’T!! Also, again what are these people eating? WHOLE, NATURAL FOODS! They are getting a great ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s unlike 90% of Americans. And yes, they are eating carbs…but NO GLUTEN! AND they have “the highest concentration of centenarians (people aged 100 or older) in the world.”

So now onto the section that both makes me happy and a tad bit angry…the Mediterranean diet.

The article states:

The much-heralded Mediterranean diet has been linked to a longer life and a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. As we’ve heard before, this diet includes good fats (olive oil, nuts, fish), lean proteins, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and a moderate amount of wine.

What people interpret this as…”I can eat chicken and fish ONLY.” EH! WRONG! Grass-fed, naturally raised beef is LEAN! It is way leaner than its grain-fed counterpart. So if you buy naturally raised animals, you will be eating LEAN meat…so you CAN eat steak!!!

Anyway, this is definitely food for thought (pun!). I also actually do like the article’s 7 tips at the bottom – especially “learn to love the foods that love you back.”

What do you think? Are Americans behind in their dietary beliefs? Do we have a lot to learn from other countries?

Posted on March 5, 2012, in Conventional Wisdom - How I hate you, Diet and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think we are over-processed in our American diets. My husband is from the Philippines and he didn’t have a weight issue until moving to the US. All his friends say the same thing. Everything they ate was fresh …and it helped that they usually had a cook preparing their foods! Come to the US where there is little time to cook(and limited skills) so you turn to the prepackaged/fast foods.

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