eat less healthy food and be heavier than people who do,’ says journalist and activist Michael Pollan. ‘In fact, the collapse of cooking in a society tracks very closely its rise in obesity.’
6. Germans Never Skip Breakfast
An impressive 75 percent of Germans eat breakfast daily (compared with just 44 percent of Americans). They’re not grabbing Egg McMuffins either; they’re sitting down to fruit and whole-grain cereals and breads. Nutritionists have been advising people not to skip breakfast for years, but recent studies give a better picture of its importance. British researchers discovered that if you haven’t eaten breakfast, your brain’s reward center will light up more vividly when you see a high-calorie food-making you more likely to indulge. Finally: a scientific explanation for that irresistible urge to pull into Dunkin’ Donuts.
7. Get Your Japanese Power Nap On
In this on-the-go country, many people take time for a daily 20- to 30-minute nap, says James Maas, PhD, a sleep researcher at Cornell University and the author of Power Sleep. There’s increasing evidence that chronic sleep deprivation raises the risk of weight gain. Maas blames two hormones: leptin, which helps the brain sense when you’re full, and ghrelin, which triggers hunger. The less sleep you get, the lower your leptin levels-and the higher your ghrelin. ‘Many people think they’re hungry when they’re actually sleepy,’ Maas says. ‘Instead of a snack, they need some shut-eye.’
8. Swap The Gas Pedal For The Bike Pedal In The Netherlands
Bikes (18 million) outnumber people (16.5 million) in the Netherlands. But unlike Americans, most of whose two-wheelers languish in basements and garages, 54 percent of Dutch bike owners use them for daily activities, such as shopping and traveling to work. The average Dutchman pedals 541 miles per year. Traffic lights in parts of Amsterdam are even synchronized to bike speed. Bike-to-Work Day in the United States is Friday, May 21, try using your bike to commute that day or just for errands close to home. If you’re of average size and pedaling at a moderate pace, you can burn around 550 calories per hour.
9. Turmeric Craze
This spice, a key ingredient in curries, grows wild in Malaysian jungles. One of its chief components is a substance called curcumin, which may turn out to be a potent fat fighter. A recent Tufts University study found that mice fed a high-fat diet with small amounts of curcumin gained less weight than did other mice that were given similar, but curcumin-free meals. Researchers think the ingredient suppresses the growth of fat tissue and increases fat-burning. Try some in your next stir-fry.
10. A Big ol’ Mexican Lunch
Instead of ingesting the bulk of the day’s calories in the evening, as most Americans do, Mexicans traditionally eat their biggest meal between 2 and 4 p.m. If you eat less at night, you’ll wake up hungrier and eat a bigger breakfast, which facilitates weight control. As a general fat-fighting rule, try to get the bulk of your daily calories at breakfast and lunch.
11. French Talk
The French excel at the leisurely family meal. On average, 92 percent of French families dine together nightly, compared with 28 percent of American families. ‘For the French, eating is the event of the day,’ says Fred Pescatore, MD, president of the International & American Associations of Clinical Nutritionists. ‘For us, it’s something we do before heading out to do something else.’ Lengthy meals actually encourage less eating, Dr.Pescatore says: Conversation slows down the fork and gives you time to realize you’re full.
12. Norwegian Sundays
It’s a deeply rooted Norwegian habit: On Sunday, everyone from toddlers to grandparents heads out to hike (in summer) or cross-country ski (in winter). Compare that with the typical American household, where the only Sunday expedition is from the fridge to the football game on TV. Start a Nordic tradition in your house. At halftime, shoo everyone outdoors for a walk around the neighborhood.