You always hear about the obesity endemic in the States. But you don't really appreciate how serious the problem is until you step outside the country and see the stark contrast between us and our European counter parts.
What's interesting to me, is there isn't a market of dieting here. You don't see the "gluten free" labels, or like, Long Beach Magic Purple Juice With Fat Free Air! advertisements on the television. Yet, obesity is a rare sight. And, on the flip side, so is anorexia. I've come to the conclusion that the States has a problem with both extremes. We have too many people who are extremely over weight, as well as the people who are so underweight that their body doesn't scream Health, it screams I Try Too Hard. It's two kinds of unhealthy, the kind where your body suffers from obesity and the kind where your mind suffers from our unobtainable standard of beauty.
Here, people aren't just thinner, they're healthier. People are all-around at their right weight relative to their heights. And there isn't an obsession with size. No one cares what size pants they wear, or how many calories are in that 1/4 piece of bread they ate for breakfast. It's a mentality and lifestyle I particularly appreciate. Just another thing the States can learn from Europe.
From my time specifically in Spain, here are some public health-esque observations I've made so far:
- Walking. Sort of like Berkeley, Córdoba is a city for walking. Everything is close enough to each other that you wouldn't need any other type of transportation. And the weather is perfect for it.
- I noticed my family takes off all the skin of the chicken and only eats the white meat. Interesting. (I was taught that the skin is the best part!??! MY LIFE IS FULL OF FATTY LIES).
- Dessert here is always fruit or yogurt. Interesting fact: Spain is a huge exporter of fruit. Which means that all the fruit here is local by standard, not as some pretentious, hippie-local-farmers-market fad. And they're all super tasty.
- Eating isn't family style. The meals are perfectly portioned, but they come on their separate plates. Unlike the big, family style method I am so used to that results in me eating probably 4x as much as I needed to just to be full. I do not miss feeling like a poor stuffed fat turkey after every meal.
- Breakfasts are small. No disgusting, mountain piles of Pancakes/Syrup/Waffles. I dig it.
- The public parks have those kind of tacky looking exercise machines for people to use.
- Lunches are "big" (again, not as big as Chinese meals can be) and have a good amount of carbs (Think: bread, pastas, potatos). But dinner is smaller and always involves a nice big salad. Not a OhEmGee Diet Time Wooo!!!!! kind of salad, but just a nice, healthy serving of fresh vegetables as a final meal. Everything is well-balanced. Not too heavy or too close to starvation.
And now, let me end this super nerdy public health post with pictures of food. Because I am Asian.