Health is a holistic matter. It is not just about eating nutritious food.
Why is it that Italians are so healthy and americans are not? Yes, quality of foods in Italy are better, but besides that, Italians know how to enjoy life. They eat together as a family or with friends. They have a very active social life. They know how to laugh. They take off two or three hours at lunch time to relax and get their energy back. They know life is more than just work.
In America, people eat at their desks, at their computers, while on the phone….meals together with family are often reserved for weekends, if at all.
Socializing with friends does happen but not nearly the way it does in other countries. Americans are all about working and they are obsessed with work, careers and trying to “get somewhere”in life, failing to realize that the stress takes a toll on health and destroys their lives.
So it is not only what you eat. It is how you eat, whom you share your meals with, how much you eat and so on.
In France, Italy and most European countries, people eat much smaller portions of food. In America, everything is big: portions are big, plate sizes are big, cup sizes are big….nobody knows how to eat in small amounts. And eating smaller meals is one of the secrets to good health and good digestion.
In Italy and France, people often have nothing more than a small cup of coffee and a small croissant for breakfast. Okay, the croissant may not be so healthy but if it is small and the only food for breakfast, it can actually be healthy. Real croissants are made with fresh butter and not much sugar. The flour is healthier in Europe. So although it is not the healthiest meal, it can be healthier than eating a huge American breakfast complete with a big cup of orange juice, milk, toast, jam and even eggs.
If we learn how to laugh more, eat together with others (rather than on our phones) and we learn to appreciate life and enjoy our family and friends, we certainly will feel healthier , digest our food better and find that many foods do not bother us.
Why is it when we travel and are having a good time, we often can eat foods that we find indigestible at home? It is because when you are happy and relaxed, digestion works better.
In Europe, people also walk a lot. They do not drive in cars so much. They walk or bike and that in itself increases fitness and health.
There are many aspects to being healthy and we certainly need to learn from those who are accomplishing that more than north americans do.