Skip to content

    Women's Health

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Diet Secrets From Around the World

    What other cultures can teach us about keeping down the pounds.
    By
    WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

    The Mediterranean diet. The Asian diet. The French women have their own diet, too. When it comes to weight control, it sometimes seems as if every culture on the planet has the answer -- except us!

    As our collective girth steadily grows -- and with it, our risks for heart disease, stroke, and even some cancers -- experts say it's time to sit down at the international dinner table with something more than dessert on our minds.

    "There is no real mystery as to why Americans are gaining weight. We have a body that needs roughly 2,200 calories a day to survive, and a food industry that insists on producing and pushing 3,700 calories a day. Do the math and you'll see what's going wrong," says Steven Jonas, MD, PhD, a professor of preventive medicine at State University of New York at Stonybrook, and author of 30 Secrets of the World's Healthiest Cuisines.

    Recommended Related to Women

    Old Symptoms, New Risks

    By Meryl Davids Landau   When you were in your 20s and 30s, you probably ignored random aches or other minor physical annoyances, and they usually went away. But now those symptoms can come back — often with a different cause, and calling for more serious attention.

    Read the Old Symptoms, New Risks article > >

     

    But what kind of food is the rest of the world eating that we're not? And, more importantly, what are we eating that's contributing to our problems? If you're about to jump up and shout, "Desserts, pasta, white bread, fast food!" -- not so fast, the experts say.

    If you examine the global pantry item by item, you may be surprised to learn that diets all over the world contain pretty much the same foods. The choices, whether you're in Madrid, Spain or Minnesota, or Provencal or Pasadena, basically consist of meat, poultry, fish, dairy, grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

    The big "aha" comes when we learn that what matters is not so much what foods we eat, as how we eat them.

    "It's not just the calories, or just the fat, or just the desserts," Jonas tells WebMD. "It's the whole mentality that swarms around our food culture that is making the biggest difference of all."

    Nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD, agrees.

    "You have to look at the whole picture of how we, as a nation, advertise food, consume food, and use food in our culture before you can really begin to understand how we are different from other countries," says Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4

    Today on WebMD

    hands on abdomen
    Test your knowledge.
    womans hand on abdomen
    Are you ready for baby?
     
    birth control pills
    Learn about your options.
    insomnia
    Is it menopause or something else?
     
    woman in bathtub
    Slideshow
    period
    VIDEO
     
    bp app on smartwatch and phone
    Slideshow
    estrogen gene
    Quiz
     

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Blood pressure check
    Slideshow
    hot water bottle on stomach
    Quiz
     
    question
    Assessment
    Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror
    Quiz