Why Europe Doesn't Make You Fat
I returned last night from a short trip to Europe, and the first thing I did upon arriving home was to step on the scale and find out how much weight I gained from eating more than usual the last couple of days. To my surprise, it turned out that I lost 2 pounds! At first I had that typical "something's wrong with the scale" reaction, but then I started remembering some of the observations that I made about Europeans' eating behavior, and soon realized that the scale might be telling the truth!
First and foremost, I didn't eat a single piece of chocolate, which I am sure anyone who knows me well will find hard to believe. I'm not quite sure how I pulled this off, but I don't remember craving it, and also don't remember seeing a single vending machine. I wonder if the overwhelming presence of vending machines has a more powerful effect on my cravings than I had thought before. My takeaway from this observation: I will stop spending my lunch breaks in our lunch room because of the two vending machines there full of foods I am constantly craving.
Another interesting moment occurred during dinner at a friend's house. I was just being told my favorite show was on TV that moment, so quickly said without thinking: "cool, let's turn it on!" I probably should have figured this out on my own, but I was immediately reminded that watching TV during dinner would be "very impolite." That made me think for a bit, since my wife and I almost never have a single dinner at home without watching one of our favorite shows. I can see how multitasking while eating makes it hard to realize when you're full, and it also makes it far too easy to spend too much time at the table. Takeaway #2: Don't be impolite.
Last but not least, I should mention that most of my meals' portion sizes were smaller, but there were more sides and courses. For example, all dinners came with a soup, and the main entrees were always served with a separate plate full of green salad. I am not sure if this eating pattern evolved from any dietary considerations, but it certainly obeys the rules of the Crowding Out approach to weight loss, which I wrote about recently. Takeaway #3: make sure to add "fillers" to all your meals. Whenever this turns out to be too impractical, drink a lot of water while eating.
I'm sure there are lots of other little tips that help make the most out of your meals - please share your own below in the comments! Bon appétit!
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