By Skylar Neafus
The sun beats down as the tourists and citizens of the Mediterranean go about their day, enjoying the weather that is like clockwork, 80 degrees, humid, without a cloud in the sky. Hardly any cars and mopeds disturb the quiet rumble of people talking in their native language to one another as they walk up and down the uneven stone roads. All of them look to be in impeccable shape. But why? Why would such a considered ‘fat culture’ be in such good shape?
The cliche of fat Italians is completely and utterly inaccurate in every sense of the phrase. I recently traveled to Greece and Italy over this past summer, and needless to say, it was an eye opening experience as opposed to the bad habits induced by typical American culture.
My vacation was provided by EF Tours and my Latin I class that I took last year. It was a 10-day vacation, and was easily the best trip I have taken in my life.
While in Italy, I witnessed a polar opposite to American culture. Mediterranean lifestyle is so much healthier than American, because of their ways of transportation and the food they eat.
People walking place to place in the United States is an idea that is only housed in the bigger cities, such as New York and Los Angeles. In Italy and Greece, no matter the size of the city, people walk unless their destination can only be reached through highways, then a car is necessary. The streets are narrow in this area, therefore a lot of Smart Cars, Fiats and mopeds are used. In the United States, people, for the most part, drive to their destination even if it is safe to walk.
The heat of the Mediterranean combined with walking burns calories and provides a breath of fresh air as opposed to constantly inhaling car exhaust. Once citizens and tourists alike reach their local restaurants, the food takes over to balance their healthy lifestyles.
Portion size is usually said to be key in weight-loss, when honestly, it isn’t. I ordered the vegetarian meals on the trip, and more than once an entire, what would be a medium, cheese pizza was set in front of me. The pizza had more sauce and less cheese, which cheese is fatty and the sauce is tomato which is already a better choice. Portion sizes are huge in the area, but the ingredients used are fresh and not smothered in pesticides and other added chemicals.
Real and unprocessed foods are more filling as opposed to the oversized Big Mac with French fries and a large Coke. Even a salad with just lettuce, tomatoes, olives and onions filled me up and I didn’t eat all of it.
Restaurant owners and servers are also not too big on free refills. If you want another drink, you’re going to have to buy another. Soda and energy drinks are a common sight on the menus but not having three glasses per meal lowers sugar content which leads to weight gain. Here in America, if your glass is half full the waiter or waitress will gladly come with another full cup of whatever you got to drink.
During this trip, I lost an entire jean size, and I will comfortably say that I went from a size 11 to a size nine. It made me feel better about myself as a whole and it also gave me an entire new perspective of my home culture. Red meats, extra large sodas, and all that other stuff tasted wonderful before I left, but when I came back my standards of food were higher. I really began watching what I ate, because in America, you never really know what’s a good choice and what isn’t and I liked the way the weight-loss made me feel.
The trip wasn’t just a pure leisure thing, it was also an awakening that I need to change my ways of eating and exercised. I found the exercise that works and a healthy manner of food that suits my picky tastes.