Defining culture: “The customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group.” Also defined as “The attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a particular social group.”
As the years pass, the more I adopt healthy habits and the less I blend in with the norm. No more late night runs for a Crispy Chicken at Mickey D’s, no ice cap and apple fritter or chocolate glazed donut at Tim Horton’s, no PC’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream or Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia on a hot summer day, no fourth or fifth serving at an “all you can eat” buffet, no Pepsi, no chocolate covered almonds or Miss Vickie’s Jalapeno flavor chips on Survivor nights, and only on very rare occasions would you find me eating one of Quebec’s finest creations; steamy hotdogs and poutine.
I am moving further away from the widespread attitude of “bigger is better”. Quantity is no longer my main concern; instead fresh good quality ingredients are what please my palate these days. Instead of coffee and a donut I would much rather go for an espresso and croissant, instead of a sundae or banana split, I would opt for a gelato.
Traveling Europe has allowed me to see first hand a variety of cultures along with their eating habits. We have been fortunate enough to visit Italy, France and England. While traveling, more often than not I find myself scanning the crowds and asking myself “Where have all the fat people gone? Oh… THERE’S ONE! Hmmm nope, fanny pack and camera… another tourist.” You can also spot them at a restaurant; they are the ones complaining that their chair and portion size are too small, and the pasta does not taste like it does back home. Or you might hear them above other chatter “What? Four Euros for this little bottle of coke? I can get sixty-four ounces of coke for less than that back home.” Well, big guy… the joke is on you!
I refrain from making generalizations, so I will not go as far as saying “Everyone from North America is fat”, but these obesity stats speak for themselves.
If you think those obesity numbers are disturbing, the following chart includes overweight adults as well.
Is your culture killing you? Some nations have produced a consuming culture where its inhabitants consume at all cost, even to the point of ill-health. These “bigger is better”, “super size it”, “all you can eat”, “free refills” mentalities have changed the way we look at food. Maybe there is something we can learn from countries like Italy and France not to mention China or Japan.
Instead of simply eating to fill the hole, why not eat to please the soul. Not everyone has the luxury of traveling, but most have the means and access to healthy fresh produce. Why not bring Europe into your kitchen and reap the benefits?
Many of us are eating just to satisfy our addictions. Instead can we make an effort to eat to nourish ourselves, looking to food to strengthen and revitalize our body? Come on people! Cut the junk! You owe it to yourself, you know you deserve better. You have procrastinated long enough, now is the time! Do not let your culture kill you.
“Obesity” chart provided by NationMaster
“Overweight” charts provided by World Health Organization