Cheese, chocolate and wine do have a place in a healthy lifestyle—that’s what this debut author and registered dietitian says we can learn from Europe’s longest-lived populations.
For decades, Americans looked to the traditional diets of people living around the Mediterranean as a model for healthy living—maybe not following that model but definitely chattering about it in books and media coverage. Lieberman, who spent two years living in Geneva, writes that there are plenty of lessons to be learned from other countries in Europe. Switzerland, Italy and France have some of the longest average life spans in the world, as well as low rates of obesity, heart disease and other markers of ill health. The book examines each country one by one and lays out the government’s official dietary recommendations, akin to the U.S. food pyramid, along with detailed descriptions of a typical day in the eating life of its citizens. Much of Lieberman’s background and advice will be familiar to anyone paying attention to the news: Americans are fat and getting fatter; we’re among the fattest people in the world; we eat a diet far too high in processed foods, sugar and fat; we snack too much and generally consume far too many calories. But Lieberman’s descriptions of the daily eating habits of her chosen European countries are downright inspiring: Lives marked by pleasurable outdoor exercise; a focus on local, organic foods so satisfying that they discourage overindulgence; regular leisurely sit-down meals that trump Americans’ predilection for on-the-go snacking; and, of course, daily indulgences in delicate portions (a square of good dark chocolate, a scoop of gelato, a single biscotto alongside a cup of coffee). It all sounds too romantic to be true, but Lieberman has lived it and brings an infectious enthusiasm to her writing. She concludes each chapter with a list of actionable tips for a European makeover of stateside eating habits and concludes the book with 70 pages of simple recipes, heavy on the whole grains, veggies and lean meats.
While not a game-changer, this book repackages familiar diet advice in a friendly, inspiring and practical format.