I recently came back from visiting family in Switzerland, home of not only chocolate and cheese, but also home to the world's third happiest people. Switzerland also ranks fourth in the world for highest life expectancy - 84.38 years for the Swiss compared to America's 47th place ranking of 79.74 years. While America spends twice as much as similarly developed countries on healthcare, we have the lowest life expectancy amongst them. Why is this?
Obviously, other countries are doing things better.... healthier...smarter..... than we are. The proof of that can be seen from these facts. And I am on a mission to tease out the nutrition and lifestyle related factors that are affecting America's poor health statistics.
Take a look here at the pictures I took and you'll see some immediate differences to point out between the Swiss and us:
There are few fast food restaurants in the entire country. In fact, I rarely ever saw a McDonalds or Burger King except in the larger cities. The Swiss eat good food, and usually it's homemade or cooked from scratch or from a garden.
Portion sizes. Let's face it.... sadly, America is home to the super-size me everything. Again, look at the photos here and notice the sizes of everything from apples, to chocolate bars to coffees. They are soooo much smaller than ours here. They have not GMO'd their fruits to become absurdly large. Their candy bars are a treat, not a meal. And NOWHERE did I see large cups (like America's ridiculous Big Gulps) in any convenience stores for endless amounts of soda or coffee. In fact, there were no soda dispensers in any convenience store. And no huge selection of sodas either. If you wanted a soda, you could purchase a Coke in a roughly 10oz glass bottle. Coffee cups were no larger than 12oz for self-dispensing in the convenience stores.
People are moving naturally. There isn't a push to join a gym or run 5 miles everyday. They have built-in long lunches when they take walks or just get up and move. They walk or bike home from work, or at the very least they walk to the train station and then on home. As you can see from the pictures, their "exercise" comes mostly from walking, biking and gardening. There were large community and private gardens everywhere I went, along with people out in them tending to their harvests and preparing the soil for next year's.
They have A-E "grades" on their foods. Check out the picture of the muesli cereal - it's graded as an A because of its high nutritional content and simple ingredient list. This would make choosing healthy foods much easier for a lot of folks.
Fresh water. Everywhere I went there were self-dispensing water fountains. I saw many people drinking from them directly or filling up their water bottles.
Fun time! Unlike us, the Swiss do not work themselves into an early grave. They start their careers with an immediate 6 week annual leave. Yes..... SIX weeks of paid leave. We are lucky to get that for maternity leave, let alone taking that much time annually to rest and recover. Members of my Swiss family will even occasionally take two months off at a time to vacation, explore, renew themselves. And yes.... they actually do have a job when they return home.
I am passionate about all of these pieces because they WORK. I love my American country, but I dream of the day when America wakes up and realizes the right way to live! We are a great nation and we have every means available to us to live longer, healthier lives.
Get in touch with me, and I will gladly share all these tidbits in detail and more about how you can make even subtle changes in your life to live healthier.