Using Other Cultures: Being Smart with Food
I’m going to draw upon two cultures to make up a smart food philosophy. They can either be put together or separately, whichever you choose. I simply think it is good to keep an open mind to other cultures to see how they deal with food and use the opportunity to look at our own food habits. The two cultures I will focus on are Spanish (as in from Spain) and Japanese (as in from…Japan). Let’s look.
The Spanish have many different eating habits, including a tiny breakfast, but I’m going to focus on their lunch. The Spaniards have a time called a “siesta” around noon or a little later. This means lunch time. And lunch time is a big deal in Spain. Shops will close down for a few hours and many Spaniards will go out to restaurants for a few hours for up to three courses. I’m not saying–ditch your work for three hours and go get a five-course meal for lunch, no! You can pack a big lunch, I know that I sure do.
And this more so points to the focus around the middle of the day when our metabolism is in full gear, ripping and roaring through the food we give it. In America, most of us have our biggest meal at the end of the day, when our metabolism is starting to slow down and our body is beginning to tire. This is what I want to adopt from the Spaniards. Move the biggest meal of the day to LUNCH where your metabolism has plenty of time to break everything down rather than waiting until dinner to stuff your face and leave yourself overnight to try to digest it all. The Spanish may be wild party-ers, but they sure do know how to eat.
Another polar opposite of the typical United States eating culture, however instead of time of eating it is PORTION CONTROL AND SIZE. If you don’t know, Chris and I have a big love for the Japanese culture and plan to live in Japan for a period of time pretty soon. And that means a big love for Japanese food. Now, of course, the United States has turned small Japanese portions into all-you-can-eat sushi (opposite of portion control), and we are lovers of that too. But for everyday life, everyday eating, the Japanese set a beautiful example of eating the right nutrients in the right portion size. Why do you think the Japanese obesity percentage is so much lower than the United States’?
Protein. Vegetable. Carb. Have you heard of the bento box? Click here for an excellent blog with tons of creative bento boxes. A bento box is basically a Japanese lunch box, usually packing in rice, some kind of vegetable, and some kind of protein (usually fish or tofu). It isn’t very big, and has no high fructose corn syrup packed into it. So instead of jumping to the supersize (a beloved American meal size), let’s try the “Bento” size. It has all the nutrients we need without stuffing ourselves to the brim. And maybe we’ll just drop the obesity rate to a more reasonable number for the US.
So let’s open our minds and our mouths and try different habits from different cultures. Who knows–it could be your next favorite thing. I sure know that I’m transfixed by the bento box. I love eating, but I love eating without feeling extremely full afterwards as well. So try it out! Cheers! Salud! 万歳 !
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