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Never posted here before, but I just got back from two weeks in The Netherlands and noticed some interesting cultural differences that I thought I would post for what it's worth.

Seems a popular question has always been, "How do Europeans always eat what they want but stay so slim and healthy?"

Here are some differences I noticed in a country where it's common to have cheese at every meal, buttered bread with chocolate shavings on it for breakfast, apple pie a la mode-- and where cheese, chocolate, and beer rule the staple foods:

1) People bike or walk everywhere. Even the elderly. Use of mass transit is minimal. Add to this that almost all apartments have no elevators.

2) Less selection of sinful foods in restaurants. The typical cafe has a limited variety on the menu. An American dessert menu may have about 10 items on it. A Dutch cafe menu may have three. You're hard to pressed to find the "Triple Brownie Heath Bar and Pez-coated Sundae" here.

3) Almost all food is bought fresh. Farmer's markets prevail. So fresh veggies are more accessible. Plus, foods are bought in smaller quantities since they're carried home by bike or hand. Makes it easier to weed out unnecessary junk.

4) Along with No. 3 above, refrigerators and ovens are much smaller. People only buy what they can make/fiit in the fridge. Maybe leading to a mentality of smaller portions?

5) Healthy foods are cheaper instead of more expensive as in the US.

6) More relaxed lifestyle. People take more time with meals and appreciate the food more, so there is less woofing down of a quick junk food while rushing to work.

7) Much of the beer has a lower alcohol content.

8) Dairy foods like cheeses are fresher and aren't processed like here in the states.

9) Meats play less of a role in meals than they do here.

10) What I call "Technology Distractions," like videogames, etc. are more limited, prompting more the original form of recreation for kids: exercise.

Some interesting lifestyle differences... if only we could uphold half of this in the states, keeping fit would be so much easier!
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