Eat Like a European?

What’s up with these Europeans anyway?


If you walk colse to any major European city, it’s hard not to notice that most people look fit and slim. Yet, you also can’t ignore the fact that many are walking colse to with a baguette sandwich or ice cream cone in their hand.


When I first noticed this, I wondered if there was some unwritten rule that overweight people have to move out of the city and are not permitted to return until they shape up. But joking aside, every person seems to be in good shape and in good spirits. And after observing their eating habits at restaurants while lunch and dinner, I became rather envious.

Eat Like a European?

So what do Europeans eat that keeps them so slim and trim? You’d be surprised!

My usual lunch consists of a small salad with a piece of fish. If I plan on working out later in the day, I might treat myself to a latte with a piece of dark chocolate. Or if I was no ifs ands or buts good the day before, I might have a piece of toast with jam for breakfast. Either way, I’m all the time conscious of the carbs, fats, or anyone else we Americans are supposed to be counting at the moment.

Europeans eat very differently. Their morning begins with espresso, and moves gently to a very heavy lunch that consists of a sandwich and all the time a dessert. All of which is chased by a glass of wine. Dinners are even heavier, with rich sauces, very rare meat (dripping with blood!), potatoes or pasta. Wine is consumed like water. And don’t forget the salad, appetizer and breadbasket that get devoured at every meal.

If Europeans can usually enjoy such luxurious meals and get away with it, what are we Americans doing wrong? Why do so many of us seem to be losing the never-ending “battle of the bulge?”

The retort is straightforward — they walk, we drive.

I pride myself on walking four miles a day at least five days a week. And on a good week, I will throw in a few weight-training sessions as well. Twenty miles a week may seem like a big accomplishment. But when you get down to it, for women over 40 it’s not adequate to prevent weight gain if you aren’t rigorous about what you eat. And it’s undoubtedly not adequate to stay fit and toned or to shed unwanted pounds.

Most European women do not go to the gym. Yet, most of them don’t have cellulite, and most don’t stress or obsess over their bodies. They eat only when they are hungry, stop when they are full, and walk all the time. Now that is a method that works.

In addition, European foods don’t include as many hormones, pesticides and preservatives as American foods. I once met a French baker who lived in San Diego for a while before returning to France. He used the same ingredients to make his baguettes every morning when he lived in San Diego, yet he claims they tasted different.

Another thing I like about Europe is the untouched faces of women. You rarely see evidence of Botox injections or plastic surgical operation of any kind. The older generation proudly displays their wrinkles, and in doing so shows the younger one how to age gracefully.

I’m not saying all is right with Europe and everything is wrong with America. But when it comes to taking care of ourselves and getting comfortable with our bodies as we grow older, it seems we could learn a few things from our friends across the sea.

All the best,