Weight loss secrets from around the world

You’ll never guess which countries have great advice for slimming down!

If you struggle with your weight, you probably have your SAD (Standard American Diet) to thank. Typical North American fare is characterized by over-sized portions dripping with salt, fat and sugar. That’s why we think it’s worthwhile to take a peek at the eating habits of other countries to find out the secrets of the citizens who, collectively, have a more petite physique.

Thailand: Spicy food controls portions
Few countries rival Thailand when it comes to signature spicy food. Could their zingy dishes hold the key to a trimmer figure? If you’re more of a gobbler than a grazer, the answer is probably yes. That’s because spicy food tends to slow us down as we eat, allowing our bodies to signal when we’re full before we’ve overeaten. The metabolism-boosting hot peppers don’t hurt either!

Quick tip: Try making Thai dishes at home by updating your spice rack and investing in a high-quality wok or skillet. Consider pepping up your Wednesday night stir fry by chopping up a handful of hot peppers and tossing them in for a nice bite!

Mediterranean: Healthy fats, fruits and vegetables
The Mediterranean diet has been hailed for years as a heart-healthy eating plan that’s good for your waistline too. A diet of primarily plant-based foods, moderate amounts of healthy fats like olive or canola oil, less red meat and herbs and spices instead of salt, the Mediterranean plan features nuts and whole grains as well. This keeps artery-cloggers from taking over, reduces bad cholesterol (while boosting the good kind) and offers fuel we can burn more easily.

Quick tip: Keep olive oil at the ready when cooking and cover your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables before adding a smaller side of meat. If brown rice and whole grain pasta isn’t to your taste, make a gradual change by cooking half white and half brown. Before you know it, your taste buds will come around!

Germany: Eat a hearty breakfast
Who knew the Germans were champions at chowing down first thing in the morning? It turns out that 75 percent sit down to a hearty meal of whole-grain cereals, bread and fruit. Here in North America, where the obesity rate is on its way to epidemic proportions, we need to take note. Nutritionists stress that a healthy, balanced breakfast is key to revving up the metabolism for the day, allowing for healthy brain function and energy levels.

Quick tip: If you’re super rushed in the morning, keep your blender on the counter and throw in blueberries, bananas, yogurt and a scoop of protein powder for an easy breakfast you can gulp on the way out the door. If you have more time, consider balanced choices like whole-grain cereals with milk and fruit or eggs with toast and fresh-squeezed orange juice.

Mexico: Lunch is the new dinner
Mexicans are known for eating their biggest meal smack dab in the middle of the day instead of at the onset of evening. This is a healthy habit we could stand to adopt in North America since getting our calories earlier in the day gives us more opportunity to use them as fuel, helps us sleep better at night and makes for better weight management.

Quick tip: Save salads, soups and lighter fare for the evening meal and save heavier dishes like pasta and pizza for lunch. Rather than tucking in to a big meal at a restaurant at the noon hour, consider making something healthy and substantial the night before and toting it along to work with you the next day.

By Heather Hudson.