Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guest Post: The European Lifestyle

Scripps Networks in Knoxville, TN - Photo by Taste As You Go

I'm sitting in the Knoxville airport, waiting to board my first flight of the night (in two hours). Before I received the news of the death of my cat, I had planned to publish a guest post. But plans change and I have to be flexible, right?

Since I have the time to publish a second post today, I'm sticking to the original plan. Today's guest blogger, Amanda Meadows from Eat Spin Live shares some thoughts about the European lifestyle.

Thanks so much for writing, Amanda!



Hi guys!

It's Amanda here from Eat Spin Live! I am very excited to be guest-posting for Michelle as she travels this week!

Eat Spin Live
Photo Courtesy of Eat Spin Live

Today I wanted to share something with you all that I get a lot of questions about from my blog... the European lifestyle and how Italian and French women seem to always stay in such wonderful shape!

As some of you know, my dad was in the Air Force for over 20 years and right after my parents were married, they both moved to Italy where they spent the next several years of their lives. Right before they had me, they moved back to the United States -- but what they learned in Italy has influenced me so much throughout my 22 years!

I thought it might be fun to share with you a few tips and things that my parents have taught me about the European way of living!

People in Europe walk a lot. In fact, my parents have told me that, on average, they probably walk around 4-5 miles a day! Hardly anyone drives in France or in the cities. I don't think this quite sunk in until my boyfriend's family took in a foreign exchange student from Germany last year. I remember him saying that he was going to the store and him not coming back until several hours later! It turned out that he had walked all the way across town to go to a store! I asked him if it was hard, and he told me that it really made him appreciate the city and the store itself so much more when he he had to work so hard to get there. I thought this was so amazing.

People in Europe often commute on bicycles. The towns are very bike-friendly and allow for easy commutes to-and-from work on bike! This is such a wonderful way to get exercise!

Eat Spin Live
Photo Courtesy of Eat Spin Live

The portion sizes of meals are significantly smaller than here in the states. For instance, a croissant at Starbucks is double the size of a croissant at a typical Italian bakery. Or a plate of pasta is typically the 1/4 of the size of the pasta plates you get a the Olive Garden.

Europeans drink a lot of water. My mom always told me that 8 glasses of water a day was considered "the norm" and that everyone had extremely clear skin because of it.

In Europe, families are typically very active! Whether it is going to the beach or running marathons, my mom and dad always tell me about how active everyone was in Europe. This mind set is taught from a very young age and children grow up learning the importance of being active and staying healthy. Weekend activities typically include tennis, swimming or other fun activities that get everyone moving!

Europeans enjoy and savor every bite of their food. I think this is the one fact about the European lifestyle that I love and try to follow the most myself. The European day typically starts with a very light breakfast (a simple croissant or piece of toast or even muesli is very common). The next meal usually doesn't come until lunch, which usually consists of salad or a sandwich. Europeans save their biggest meal for the last meal of the day -- dinner (which they usually don't eat until 8pm). My mom has always explained to me that European women never feel "guilty" for having gelato (my mom's favorite), a glass or two of wine, or a buttery croissant. They savor and enjoy every last bite and never feel guilty about a small splurge.

European food does not have the same preservatives as the food in the states. No high fructose corn syrup is used. Typically, Italian restaurants in Italy have their very own vegetable garden in the back of their restaurants and cook completely with whole ingredients. It is extremely uncommon. Most families value meals together and the process of growing your own ingredients and making your food from scratch.

Italian women don’t count calories and don’t obsess about slurges. If they eat a heavy meal for lunch they eat a lighter meal for dinner and that’s that!

So there you have it! These are just a few of the wonderful tips that my parents have taught me! I really contribute my weight maintenance throughout my life to the fact that I have tried to follow this lifestyle as best as possible. I believe eating everything in moderation and enjoying every bit of food is a wonderful thing. I love sharing a meal with the people that I love. I try to go on a long walk with my dog at least once every day! My goal is to fully live my life and enjoy every second of it!

Eat Spin Live
Photo Courtesy of Eat Spin Live

I like to purchase organic products, cook as much as I can, and buy quality cheeses, breads, and wines! I try to put as few artificial products in my body as possible. Knowing what the ingredients on a label are truly makes me feel wonderful! Everything is fine in moderation and a little cookie once in a while will surely not make you gain a pound. Having parents who lived in Italy has truly helped me to remain very open minded about food and living.

Please stop by and visit my blog for more details... See you there! :)