Quick Analysis of European v. North American Eating Habits

Physical conditioning, injuries, nutrition and everything related to fitness
Rome_Leader
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Okay, so I guess the cat's out of the bag... I.AM.CANADIAN. :P That being said, I have been abroad to Europe once or twice in my lifetime, particularly to France, and I must say, I admire their approach to nutrition and eating. It certainly contrasts with the traditional North American way. Being from and currently living in Newfoundland, I get a bit of both. European influences and the North American/United States influenced diets and habits. I just wanna compare some key things I noticed quickly for you guys...

Point #1: Europeans Are Never Rushed While Eating

This particular family I stayed with made me an excellent meal of spaghetti. I love spaghetti, so I was eating away, doing my best not to let people hear my broken Canadian-French. :P I was friends with the guy sitting next to me, Marco. I noticed he finished about a little more then 3/4 of his plate, and then got to work clearing up and wrapping what was left of his dish to refrigerate. I was all: 'What gives, man? Not hungry?' He says 'Not really. A little, though. But I don't wanna overdo it.' So I asked him why he didn't finish at least what he had left, he looked at me for a second and said: 'Why? Will it not be there tomorrow?' I thought about it for a sec and I'm there, 'Damn, he's right! What's the rush? Whatever I want isn't so perishable or scarce that I can't leave it for tomorrow. I don't have to finish off this pasta or this pie or what have you right now, because it'll be there tomorrow.' Marco wouldn't have gorged himself of course, by finishing that plate, but he knows there is no point in having it when he is not hungry. He is satisfied in the hunger sense, and he will finish that food tomorrow, when he is hungry for it.

Not only is that great self-control, but it would also save you a number of things, including money that you might use to buy more food, and time to prepare an entirely new meal.

North Americans, on the other hand, tend to eat every meal as if it is their last. They eat and stuff themselves to finish off whatever they can, as it is sort of faux pas in many Western civilizations to leave food on the table, indicating that either: A) You didn't like it. or B) You are full. Marco was neither, he just had sense. You don't need to eat to the point where you are stuffed full, or when you feel you cannot eat any more. You merely eat enough to sustain yourself until your next meal. Which brings me to my next point...

Point #2: For Europeans, It's Not About Eating, or Even Taste, to a Degree. It's About the EXPERIENCE.

You heard me. Europeans enjoy the tastes of things as much as we do, but they are less likely to pop open a can of Pepsi just because they crave the taste of one, or to eat when they are not hungry out of habit or lust for a particular taste of food. Rather, they would much rather COMBINE all the pleasures of eating, into one great eating experience. These parts include, but are not limited to...

i) Buying the food. In France in particular, which is where I am drawing the most of my memories from, many markets are outdoor. People bustle around chatting with friends and shop keepers in a very pleasant atmosphere. In North America, shops are huge and all-purpose, and you buy things because you need to, rarely socializing with anybody, just picking up what you need and getting the fu** out of that scary place. :P

As a further point, Europe has far more specialty shops. As in, one store might sell only breads, or even a particular kind of bread, and one store might only carry vinaigrettes or sauces. While in NA, this would drive up the price substantially, many of these items are either local grown and fresh, or homemade, so the cost is able to be subsidized and the food tends to be much more natural and healthy. While they don't always get the luxury of one all-purpose store, they don't mind. You are much more likely to find obscure items or exactly what you are looking for in these specialty shops, provided you know where to go.

ii) Preparing the food. A lot of packaging for food in NA, or ways food is available to purchased, like at fast food restaurants, represent the 'quick and dirty eating' I mentioned above. That is to say, buy whatever you can as fast as you can, make it as fast as you can, and eat it as fast as you can.

The Europeans take great care to prepare their food slowly and with purpose, following age old recipes (Like Marco's mother's spaghetti.) and being very patient with the whole process. This, to my experience, makes the food a lot more worthwhile. Although, this is one thing I share in common with NA eaters. Made in several hours, gobbled down in several minutes. :P

iii) Actually eating the food. While a lot of North Americans eat alone, or in couples or groups of three, Europeans tend to invite over extended families and friends to share in the meal, making it more of a social event, and less of simply a meal. It is a social event to eat even at home, much like going out to restaurants is in North America. It really heightens the atmosphere, and can even make the food taste better, to my experience, when you are sharing it with good friends.

As you can see, Europeans don't rush much of anything, and enjoy their time together because, as they know, time is short. Eh... C'est la vie!

Point #3: Eating is a Lifestyle, Much Like Cooking is an Art

Touching on the above again, all this sounds like it would take a lot of time. Not so. Preparing and eating the food as above relaxes the people as a whole, improves their lifestyles, and even reducing stress and sleep troubles! Without being so hurried meal to meal, and possibly due to the majority eating much healthier, Europeans as a whole tend to be fitter, more active and just generally have more 'loose' personalities then their American coutnerparts. It all trickles down the line. Eat well, live well, as they say. (Trying out some French I haven't used since high school... Mangez bien, habitez bien!)

__________________________________

Just some quick points. I think if we all followed the examples of the Europeans, and the French in particular that I listed above, we'd be better people. It might even make eating healthier more fun for some of you. Just thought I'd maybe through that out there as bit of inspiration, as my France trip definitely inspired me, and I try to be more relaxed and methodical when I eat. (When I can. ;) ) Good luck guys. ;)

~~~A Roman Thought~~~
Last edited by Rome_Leader on 02 May 2010, 12:22, edited 1 time in total.

messi19
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Great post! Deserve's a rating of 5! "Rome_leader" You have thought about this very well and have grasped the concept of how some North American's eat like horses. (Im not trying to be rude)

The North American food culture is just based on Hotdogs, Fries, Burgers, Donughts etc... Food shouldnt be eaten like this as a main meal. I am from England but have Portuguese blood in me and us europeans love to sit and relax while eating our lunch or dinner. Its a time of the day when all freinds and family can all sit down together and talk about there day and just relax while having a beer or wine. In europe, alot of europeans like to have coffee or brandy after there evening meal and just talk to each other and relax. In North America it seems like its a race to finish you food first, when its not supposed to be!

In europe, we have some of the best food in the world. We have Italian food, Spanish food, French food and many other countries have delicous food. When you go to Italy you should try the pizza and pasta! Its completely different to what you would get in North America.

The North Americans are starting to learn how to "fine dining" which I thinks great! Ive been to USA 3 times and have been to some great resturants.

Im hope North America can follow europe into making and eating great food!
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Rome_Leader
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Thank you, it just struck me as funny one time, especially after having that French eating experience. I would like to add, also, that North Americans seldom know about Italian or Spanish food until they have actually had it in Italy and Spain. Laugh at me for it if you will, but I am an avid pro wrestling fan, and often read the Superstars blogs and features on several websites. I quote, from memory, what one particular Superstar had to say about traveling to Italy for a show...
I don't know about you guys, but the worst Italian food I ever had was in Italy. No spices, no flavour, nada. Quite a disappointment.
I'm more then willing to bet it's due to artificial flavours and salts added to the NAized European food we get here. It may be an acquired taste, and down to personal preference, but I love actual Spanish and Italian food and the like. The natural herbs and spices give it a very appealing taste.

freestylejordan
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Good few points raised I really enjoyed reading it! I'm not surprised most of your ideas on European eating habits related back to the French as they are very good when it comes to working with food!

truesocceroo
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Yeah the stuff about the europeans is very true. I have been to europe several times and tasted the various food in Italy, Greece, Germany in restaurants as well as in the home with family and it is held in much higher regard than here. The quality and variety of restaurants here in Australia is very good however but the care europeans put into their food cannot be compared to.

I had a teacher who went to italy and told us it was the worst pizza she ever had, said the crust was too thin and there wasnt enough cheese. She went on about how she preffered deep pan dominos pizza and i was just laughing at how someone like a teacher could be so uncivilised.

arsenalfc08
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Its true. I posted an article in that fast food thread about how the western diet (basically the american diet, enriched wheat/flours,additives,proccessed food,etc) increase ones risk of colon cancer by 300%

For me its not hard to eat better, I will not subject myself to nasty,overly processed food,etc. It's not that hard, its really just all about will power. I know in the end it will help me. Plus I don't want any type of cancer.

fr33k1ck
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But our food tastes better than English food. Im sorry, but when I went to England, everything I had was nasty. Maybe continental European food taste good, but English food is gross to me.

MSILancer7
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When i went to Belgium and France this past winter i thought that they food was ok, i didn't really find anything that i loved or hated it was all just ok. I also noticed that the portions were a lot smaller in europe than in america and that is y we are a fat country

arsenalfc08
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fr33k1ck wrote:But our food tastes better than English food. Im sorry, but when I went to England, everything I had was nasty. Maybe continental European food taste good, but English food is gross to me.
You were probably not used to not having hydrogonated oils,trans fats, additives etc in the food. Europe has banned these things from their food but America hasn't. Thats why our food "tastes better" but it doesn't mean its healthy. Our food also has a ton of sodium (salt).

chicagofirefan
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IMO Food in Europe= :D :D :D


This is sorta off topic and has nothing to do w/ nutrition but one time when i was in Bulgaria, me and dad walked into a McDonalds because i wanted something to drink :D and it was Fancy . It was just like a restaurant, you sit down, they come and take your order, and so on. But it was still the usual McDonalds food. Ketchup packets costed 20 Stotinki :mrgreen: . In America they are free ;). BUT WHO CARES :P
Bulgaria is our faith, Levski is our Freedom

Vistula
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This is sorta off topic and has nothing to do w/ nutrition but one time when i was in Bulgaria, me and dad walked into a McDonalds
Oh shoot McDonalds is taking over Europe too.... In Poland they have a couple scaterred around the country
Europe has banned these things from their food but America hasn't
If they banned all that junk, how come they're letting McDonalds thrive in their country??? :?

Rome_Leader
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It's called a Euroized McDonald's. Just like in Japan where certain kinds of fish and squid are popular on pizza, regional areas in Europe have things like McDonald's and Pizza Hut but with regional differences.

Also, McDonald's is still an Americanized chain.

arsenalfc08
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Vistula wrote:
This is sorta off topic and has nothing to do w/ nutrition but one time when i was in Bulgaria, me and dad walked into a McDonalds
Oh shoot McDonalds is taking over Europe too.... In Poland they have a couple scaterred around the country
Europe has banned these things from their food but America hasn't
If they banned all that junk, how come they're letting McDonalds thrive in their country??? :?
Mcdonalds is different in Europe. I watched Supersize Me and they talked to a women from France. She said that she hated the Mcdonlads in America because they taste weird. She also said a kiddie size drink is a small in her country, She said she couldn't finish our size drinks.

I watched a show where they showed a Mcdonalds in Greece. They had a salad bar (real salads, fresh ingredients etc,) and a golato bar. It was also the most expensive Mcdonalds in the world.

Just because they banned the ingredients doesn't mean their in the Mcdonalds foods in Europe. If there banned in Europe then they won't be in food in European Mcdonalds, duh. There thriving because people are eating at them, common sense lol.

Another thing Rome to add about your first post. I was watching a show where this women travels to different countries. She went to France and showed her shopping. She said unlike America where you can get everything on one store, in France you go to 2-3 different shops. She said in France stores are like people's houses. If you don't great the shop owner it is considered very rude.

Wanderer
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Leftover food doesn't have as much nutrients as when you eat them immediately tho. So like putting the pasta back in the fridge then takin it out again isn't such a good idea. nutrient-wise.

Rome_Leader
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Wanderer wrote:Leftover food doesn't have as much nutrients as when you eat them immediately tho. So like putting the pasta back in the fridge then takin it out again isn't such a good idea. nutrient-wise.
Erm, depends on what food. Besides, normally, putting it in the fridge is harmless. FREEZING it is a different matter.

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