Hello, hello fellow Everythingtarian fans. I’m the Danielle from Danielle Abroad who is not currently abroad but planning her next international adventure. I’m so glad to be here! Holly is one of the most fabulous people I’ve ever met and was an incredible host when I swung by Madison on my solo cross-country road trip just one year ago. Giving her time off of blogging while she’s in Europe is the very least I can do.
As you may have gathered, I’m very passionate about travel. I love learning about every part of culture, especially food. But between the full-fat yogurt in Turkey, pizza in Italy, fruit juices in Ecuador, goulash in Hungary, rice pudding in Chile, and crêpes, croissants, chocolate and quiches in France, you’d think I came back the United States with a pound from every country I visited.
You see, in addition to enjoying myself thoroughly, I also began to pay more and more attention to the way people in these foreign countries approached meal time. And it’s definitely different from our American ways—rushed, on-the-go, ridden with calorie and fat and sugar anxiety.
Most countries appeared to have figured it out a long time ago. There was a fundamental appreciation for whole, local and seasonal foods, hunger and satisfaction, needs and pleasure. They also seemed to appreciate active lifestyles that didn’t always include a gym membership but rather consistent daily movements like morning stretches and afternoon walks. It was amazing!
And it worked.
1. Visit the market. Even if you buy just half of your groceries from your local farmers market, you’ll eat healthier for yourself and the environment. Fresh produce is cheaper when its in season and it tastes a whole lot better. I nearly stopped eating tomatoes when I came home from Chile because I’d gotten so “spoiled” from eating bright red tomatoes a mere one or two days after it’d been picked nearby.
2. Question yourself. First, make sure you’re hungry. Then, get into the habit of asking yourself not what you should eat, but what you feel like eating. If you really listen to your body, you’ll be surprised to find that it’s probably craving whole foods with the nutrients you’re running low on.
3. Bring pleasure to the table. Yes, you need to sit down to eat. Also, take the time to make your food look and taste good. Sure, it sounds superficial, but you’ll be surprised with how much more satisfied you’ll feel. Liberally use spices from whatever your favorite cuisine may be: Indian, Mexican, Italian, etc. When serving, plate your meal nicely, and divide into more than one course if you’re feeling ambitious. In France, for instance, we always had a soup, salad, entrée, dessert, and usually wine. Dare I say it made lunch and dinner that much more… fun? Plus, it gently forced me to become more conscious of not overeating.
4. Eat until you’re satisfied, not full. In my studies of romantic languages, I’ve found that it’s actually rude (or incomprehensible) to say that you’re full. It’s not only Europe where they honor feeling content and satisfied either; The Japanese are notorious for leaving food on their plate because they stop eating when they’re about 80% full. Try staying tuned into the way your body feels while you’re feeding it. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really quite a pleasant way to eat.
5. Live your life. I’m not exempt from having had a disorderly relationship with food, but watching others enjoy their meals and then leave the thoughts of them behind was truly inspirational. It’s our innate American culture to “be the best we can be” as we’re in the constant “pursuit of happiness.” For the most part, these motivational ways of thinking are positive, but they can also create more pressure than we’re able to deal with. Let yourself get excited about a new recipe, but don’t let it keep you from pursuing your other passions. Paint, laugh, dance, read, watch, play, my gosh, you can even work out if you’re in the mood; Just make sure you’re having a good time. You’ll be happier and healthier for it.