lunch in provence south of france
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Slow Meals in France

When you eat your meals slowly and savor them, like lots of people do in France, that may lead to fewer calories, especially for men. So take your time, and enjoy a nice, long meal with friends.

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daughter and senior mother eating in japan
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Smaller Portions in Japan

Little dishes typically mean fewer calories. Studies show that people who eat bigger portions are more likely to be overweight and less healthy. A soup starter, along with plenty of water, will help you walk away satisfied. And it’s not just the small helpings. The traditional Japanese diet doesn’t include a lot of red meat, and research shows that can be a good thing.

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indian boy selling spices in market
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Spice It Up in India

Indian food is loaded with herbs and spices, such as turmeric, curry, ginger, and cardamom. These are full of antioxidants and other things that are good for you. They also can lend some heat to the dishes, which may help you eat less.

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greek meal by the aegean sea
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Greece: The 'Real' Mediterranean Diet

There are many cultures and eating practices throughout the Mediterranean, but the traditional Greek diet is the one that’s been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. It’s all about fruits and vegetables, more cheese than milk, more fish than meat. And, of course, drizzle everything in olive oil, which has the “good fat,” and wash it down with a little wine. 

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italian family drinking red wine with meal
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Drink Red Wine in Italy

Cheers! Studies show that moderate drinking can lower your chances of heart disease. But the key is moderation: one glass a day for women, two for men -- tops. More than that can be bad for you.

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norwegian rakfisk fermented fish
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Fermented in Norway

If you let certain foods sit for a long time in water or salt, or other spices, the chemistry and taste change. This is fermentation, and fermented foods are natural sources of probiotics -- good bacteria that affect everything from digestion to mood. Cultures across the globe ferment vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat. In Norway, they ferment trout for up to a year and serve it uncooked. Hmm ... maybe start with vegetables.

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two women eating korean food
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Mix It Up in Korea

Here, a restaurant may serve you pickled vegetables, soup, dumplings, fermented cabbage (kimchi), meat, egg, fish, and pork -- all at a single meal! The different foods not only add interest, they also help you get more nutrients. But more variety can lead you to eat too much, so keep those portions small.

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swedish woman serving freshly baked bread
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Break Bread in Sweden

It’s a good rule of thumb to watch your carbs, particularly with the American diet, but not all carbohydrates are created equal. The whole-grain rye bread common in Sweden is healthier. It tends not to spike your blood sugar levels as much as white bread -- and it has more fiber, which helps digestion.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 08/17/2020 Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on August 17, 2020


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National Institutes of Health: “Association between eating rate and obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” “Does eating slowly influence appetite and energy intake when water intake is controlled?” “Lifestyle in France and the United States: An American Perspective,” “A systematic review and meta-analysis examining the effect of eating rate on energy intake and hunger,” “Effects of Food Quality, Quantity, and Variety on Intake,” “Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects,” “Effects of red pepper on appetite and energy intake,” “Grapes, wines, resveratrol, and heart health,” “The health benefits of wine,” “Moderate wine consumption and cardiovascular disease risk: beyond the ‘French paradox,“ “Grapes, wines, resveratrol, and heart health,” “The Mediterranean diets: What is so special about the diet of Greece? The scientific evidence,” “The Mediterranean diets: What is so special about the diet of Greece? The scientific evidence,” “Gut emotions - mechanisms of action of probiotics as novel therapeutic targets for depression and anxiety disorders.”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Portion size of food affects energy intake in normal-weight and overweight men and women.”

Advances in Nutrition: “Portion Size and Obesity.” “Eat a variety of foods.”

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on August 17, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.