NOTE: This post is in honor of Food Day – October 24th, 2011. Check out the website and see how you can get inspired!
You would think the land of chocolate, cheese and everything butter and cream would make an obese society… but when you walk around Switzerland nobody is fat. How does that happen!?! Those jerks!!!!!! I’ve been secretly (aka creepily) watching the Swiss and their eating habits to try and figure out why-oh-why-oh-why don’t they ever get fat.
Here’s what doesn’t jive in my mind: when I go to the grocery store, basically nothing is reduced [fill in the gross ingredient here]. It’s so hard to find lean meat, non-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese, low-sodium broth, low-fat milk or whole grain an-y-thing. When I go to eat out, ordering something grilled just means pan-fried instead of deep-fried. It seems physically impossible for a chef to cook you anything without oil and or butter (I’ve asked many a’restaurants, but they are thoroughly confused when I ask – how could one cook a food without butter or oil?).
Have I mentioned the Swiss love affair with mayo? I cannot get a sandwich without oily, nasty, (obviously full-fat) mayo slopped all over it. Even the sandwiches marked “healthy” have it slathered on. And shall I get started on (what they call) a Green Salad? Add iceberg lettuce (you know, the one that is the least green and has the least nutritional value), add a gallon of (full-fat) bleu-cheese type of dressing et voilà! I mean, granted I’m happy because even I know how to cook that for guests, but actually eat it myself? I’d rather puke.
So based on all of the above, the Swiss should be fat asses, right? Drum roll please… because I know the answer to their success at staying skinny! Dun-duh-nun-nuhhhhhhh… the one thing they don’t eat are… preservatives. ! Okay okay, I know a ton of hippyish-people in America say that too, so I didn’t exactly cure cancer with my revelation, but the difference is this: now I have the test case to show that it’s actually true. Before, much like many other Americans, I “did my best” to buy items without preservatives but it didn’t really matter that much to me if it did. I knew they were “bad” for you, but so is chocolate and I continued to eat that and lived to tell about it! And I know first-hand that Americans can’t imagine what it’s like to live without preservatives. In Switzerland, food lasts for days, not weeks. All food. If you open a milk container, you have to drink it within 3 days before it goes bad. Salad is fresh for 4 days. Bread is hard after 2 days. Cookies even expire quickly!
Let me give you an example of this American girl I know who had a bad experience adjusting to these lack of preservatives – for anonymity let’s just call her Kisa. Kisa had just recently moved to Switzerland and thought it was “bullshit” that everything would go bad so quickly and she so often had to throw out food she had “just bought”. One dinner Kisa and her husband were making pasta and Kisa decided to use pesto which had been opened 2 weeks prior. Kisa’s husband warned Kisa that it was expired, but Kisa scoffed at the idea that, “What, the oil has gone bad? Please.” The next day, while Kisa lay in bed (and next to the toilet) with food poisoning, she began to take the idea of preservatives more seriously.
I (and Kisa) challenge you to look at the expiration dates on your food. If it says it’s fresh until you have grandkids, consider no longer purchasing it. And fruits and veggies – really consider only buying what’s in season and from local sources. My final dieting advice: check out the Food Day website to learn more about how to “eat real”. Check out Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution here and get enlightened about what’s really being served to our future generations. Plus, added bonus – you can eat like a Swiss and be super skinny!!