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Healthy Eating Habits from Around the World

Check out how other cultures eat, plus learn helpful tips for healthy eating as well as fun recipes to add culture and variety to your meal routine.

Hand eating noodles with chopsticks, healthy eating around the world

Even though America is a melting pot of cultures, when it comes to learning more about healthy eating, it’s helpful to look outside of our own country for sage advice and good ideas. Here’s a quick roundup of a few countries who have their own take on healthy eating.

North Africa

Northern Africa—think Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria—benefits from the culinary influences of many different cultures, from the French to the Turks. Many North African dishes combine a delicious mix of olive oil, lots of veggies, and divine smelling (and tasting) spices. There are also plenty of traditional stews and couscous that include meats, usually halal.  

The takeaway:

Olive oil, veggies, and spices are…well, the spice of life. North Africans eat veggie-heavy dishes, which means they get a full range of nutrients and use animal proteins to give a balanced, satisfying meal. 

Try it out:

This delicious North-African Spiced Vegetable Tagine recipe is a perfect combination of spice and veggies. Tastes great when served with crusty bread. 


When discussing healthy eating, no country is more extolled than Japan. The Japanese rely on a diet that is nearly free from refined sugars and is low in dairy and fruit. The diet consists mostly of rice, veggies, fish, and meat. It’s often said that the Japanese diet contributes to why Okinawans live longer than any other people on earth.  

The takeaway:

Nix the fruit and combine rice with veggies and sauces to form a complete, satisfying meal.   

Try it out:

This yummy ohitashi recipe marries greens with a soy-based marinade for a light, delicious dish.

Related: Benefits of Drinking Tea


Chileans, along with most South Americans, typically avoid sugar and processed foods. Corn casserole is common, as is ceviche, a seafood dish. Nearly every meal is served with red wine. 

The takeaway:

Eat real meals for lunch, not just a sandwich. The Chilean way involves meat, soup, and a hearty bread that tides you over until dinner (bye, snacking!). 

Try it out:

The empanada is a delicious and very portable meal that fits in your hand. Try one of these delicious meat or veggie-filled flaky pies for a satisfying lunch or dinner.

Related: Thirty 15-Minute Healthy Meals for Busy Weeknights


Germans are adept at making delicious, inventive salads. They also are strict about regulating GMOs, and believe in fresh vegetables whenever possible. 

The takeaway:

Fresh is best. Many Germans go to the grocery store or market daily to make sure their vegetables are eaten at their peak for maximum nutritional value and a delicious taste. 

Try it out:

Germans love dill, and this wonderful cucumber salad recipe is full of it. This is a must try for a delicious, invigorating side salad.


Alright, so if you’re thinking it’s nuts to include a country that is famous for pasta, you’re experiencing a common misconception: Italians don’t just eat pasta. When pasta is on the menu, it’s a small portion in a multi-course meal. And the other courses in that meal include soup, vegetables, and a small piece of cheese. Italians also very rarely eat between meals, and they eat slowly.  

The takeaway:

Focus on ingredient quality and eat local. Italians prize freshness, and seldom snack or eat many sweets.  

Try it out:

When aiming for authentic Italian food, focus on high-quality, fresh ingredients. This Italian salad is packed with beautiful vegetables.

A quick tour around the world reminds us that by looking to other cultures and perhaps looking back to our own roots, we can connect to behaviors and food customs that nourish and respect our bodies. The takeaway: Let's celebrate our health through food and culture.

While you’re here, check out my other articles on healthy living.



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Post Author

Jennifer Diffley
Jennifer Diffley is a SLC resident. She is a senior copywriter and has her MFA in creative writing from NYU. Jennifer is committed to health, but has an unhealthy fascination with outrageous shoes.