Diets vary greatly from place to place based on food availability, eating habits and culture. Yet, when it comes to food, there is a lot that we know about what is and what is not good for us and this is true no matter where we live.
7 eating habits that we know are good for us:
1. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits – Some countries are very specific about the number of servings of fruits and vegetables that we should consume daily, for example Greece says six, Costa Rica and Iceland say five. Canada even specifies the colors of vegetables to consume (one dark green and one orange vegetable a day). Serving sizes can vary by country; however, all guidelines recommend eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits on a daily basis.
2. Watch your intake of fats – Said in different ways, most guidelines make mention of reducing solid, saturated fats and give recommendations for replacing animal fats with vegetable oils. In Greece, olive oil is recommended, in Viet Nam it is sesame or peanut oil – demonstrating the importance of availability and cultural preference in each country’s guidelines.
3. Cut back on foods and beverages high in sugar – It is generally agreed upon that processed sugar is harmful to our health. The guidelines in every country recommend to maintain a low-sugar diet and to choose fruits over processed sweets or sugary beverages to satisfy a sweet tooth.
4. Reduce sodium/salt – Nigeria mentions reducing the use of bouillon cubes; Malta specifies limiting ready-made food high in sodium. Colombia on the other hand suggests limiting processed meats, canned foods and packaged products that usually have high salt content. Across all countries, the general agreement is that diets with less salt are better for you.
5. Drink water regularly –Across the board, the guidelines recommend that water is the best thirst-quencher. Of course, we should always first make sure that the water is safe for drinking.
6. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation– If you do choose to drink alcohol, whether that is beer, wine or spirits, the general consensus is that it should be done in moderation.
7. Make physical activity part of your day, every day – For people who have more sedentary jobs or lifestyles, the broad recommendation is to get at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. However, Benin’s guidelines point out that for people with jobs that require hard physical labour, additional exercise is not of top importance.