From country to country, traditions, lifestyles and diets vary substantially. If we take a peek at other cultures, we see how simple diet changes can improve our overall health and wellbeing. Here are a few things we can learn from our friends near and far.
An Asian-Inspired Meal
In Asia, people typically eat 300 more calories a day than their counterparts in the U.S. However, they still tend to weigh less. In America, we see meat as an entrée, and in Asia, it's used as a garnish. Most Asian meals are made primarily with vegetables that are "spiced" or cooked with the flavor of meat. For protein, the Asian culture consumes fish and beans—particularly soy—with very little red meat. Take a cultural cue and use rice and vegetables to replace high-fat meat dishes, not just as side dishes to eat alongside them.
South American Fare
Let's face it, Americans love meat. Here's a tip from the Argentineans, who eat up to 30 pounds more beef per capita a year. They buy super-lean cuts, and the cows are grass-fed, not grain-fed like American cattle. Their meat is naturally lower in fat—just 2.5 grams per 4 ounces—versus American steaks, which can pack an entire 10.8 grams of saturated fat in 4 ounces of meat. South Americans also have a decidedly lower rate of heart disease.
Hearty Greek Origins
If there is one thing we can take from our Mediterranean counterparts—famous for their heart-healthy diet—it's this: Eat from the source. Start by replacing saturated fats like butter with healthy fats like olive oil. In most European cultures, they not only cook with olive oil, they eat the olives. These whole foods allow you to reap the benefits from the olives while becoming fuller faster. The French and Greeks also supplement the benefits of red wine by eating the actual grapes—a common dessert in many countries.
In Gambia, nuts make up most meals—a favorite dish is tomato and peanut stew. In the U.S., we view stews as fattening, but in Africa they are a main part of the diet. The trick is to combine vegetables, spices and nuts, which can replace meat as protein. As proof to this healthy lifestyle, Gambians have virtually no weight problems, as well as the lowest international incidence of all types of cancers
Warning signs of bullying
Flipping through magazine and television ads, it seems the definition of beauty in America has been narrowly defined. This unrealistic image is not only offsetting, but also potentially damaging to youth—who are particularly prone to bullying. Parents, here are a few warning signs of bullying to look for:
- Sleep problems: can include nightmares or insomnia
- Unexplained injuries: physical bullying and/or hurting themselves.
- Academic trouble: beware if grades begin to fall
- Depression: feelings of helplessness may be more than just growing pains
- Unusual appetite: missing lunch/lunch money may be evidence.
- Friends: trouble making and/or keeping pals
- Feeling sick: could be sign of avoiding school
- Aggressive behavior: towards siblings or others
If you suspect your child may be a victim of bullying, start by listening. Learn the specifics of the situation, then consider the appropriate reaction. Directly confronting the bullies—or their parents—seldom works. If the bullying occurs at school, work with the teachers and principal. It is the school's primary responsibility to keep students—including your child—safe.