There are countless videos on TikTok of individuals claiming they've lost weight in Europe despite making zero changes to their diet. But what exactly is causing Americans to lose some inches in other countries?
User @imkianajordyn shared in a viral video how she lost weight and never experienced bloating despite eating two to three big meals a day in Greece. The users who commented on her video seem to have the same experience as well. “I am European and I am always bloated, I would be air balloon in USA,” writes @prdka32. Another person, @videlecc, said “That’s because EU regulations on food are very strict – you can’t add or do whatever you like to the food you produce.”
Seeing these comments made me realize how bad the food quality is in the U.S.A. In America, I was constantly bloated and I would drink coffee or tea just to get rid of it. After having been in Greece for almost two months, I noticed that I don’t get bloated at all, unless I'm on my period. And believe it or not, my food choices in Europe weren’t much different than in the U.S. Actually, I opted for my favorites every week: pizza, pasta, and pastries. I ate starchy and "carby" foods that are usually seen as “unhealthy” and cause weight gain. But I didn’t gain any weight at all, if anything, I’ve probably lost about an inch.
With so many other Americans experiencing the same thing, everyone can’t help but ask why? Why are people losing weight in Europe? What in the world is in American food that’s making people bloat or gain pounds? Thus, my search began, and I believe I have found some answers.
European Foods Have Fewer Additives and Seed Oils
European countries are definitely stricter when it comes to certain additives and ingredients. One reason why the FDA is more lenient on them is because food corporations have a stronger lobbying presence in America than in the EU. The food industry is very keen on adding chemicals to U.S. foods for the simple fact that additives actually make the food cheaper by making them last longer. However, there are tons of additives that are currently banned in the EU for being “harmful” to humans, including potassium bromate (which is found in a lot of bread items), BHA or BHT, growth hormones in meat, and artificial colorings like Red No. 40 and Yellow No. 5. The thing with additives is that many of them act as endocrine disruptors that interfere with hormone levels, which could lead to weight fluctuations.
As for seed oils, consuming high amounts of polyunsaturated fats (like canola, sunflower, or rapeseed oil) can lead to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. In Greece, I don’t have to worry too much about eating out since most kitchens use olive oil for cooking. Plenty of European countries mainly use olive oil as their cooking agent, like Italy, Spain, and Croatia to name a few. Switching out your vegetable oil with coconut or olive oil, butter, and ghee is better for you in the long run since it won’t lead to weight gain or inflammation.
Walkable Cities = More Calories Burned
I have no car in Greece, and I love it. I walk everywhere: to the store, the city, coffee shops, and nature. European countries have made it easy for their citizens to go anywhere on foot without needing a car. We all know that America isn’t really a walkable country. We rely heavily on our vehicles, which is fine if we’re still getting our steps in. A lot of us don’t, though, which is another problem added on top of the additive-laden foods we eat. According to Fitzpatrick Translational Science, the average U.S. citizen walks about 87 miles a year, versus Europeans who walk an average of 237 miles – that’s three times as much compared to Americans! Needless to say, we're definitely not burning enough calories by being active in the U.S., causing many to struggle with weight loss.
The average U.S. citizen walks about 87 miles a year, versus Europeans who walk an average of 237 miles.
Less Stress Can Lead To Healthy Weight Loss
In my opinion, one of the reasons why Americans may experience weight loss in Europe is because they have lower stress levels from being in “vacation mode.” High levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, can lead to weight gain since it stimulates metabolism and increases appetite. Most people who go on vacation focus on relaxing by leaving their worries behind in their home country, and this peace of mind prevents the overproduction of cortisol. So, if you're thinking about fitting into smaller sizes while having a good time, then I suggest buying a ticket to Europe!
Could there be other reasons why Americans are losing weight in Europe? Of course. Not everyone is documenting their experiences and detailing their meal plans or exercise routine, so it’s incredibly difficult to narrow down exactly what’s causing U.S. citizens to lose inches overseas. However, there are a large number of people stating that despite not making any dietary changes, they’re losing weight in Europe – leading me to believe that American food is often low in quality, high in calories, and riddled with additives.
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