Travel Edition – Berlin, Germany: 3 Healthy Habits of Berliners

brandenburg-gate-417890_1920Recently, I had the good fortune to spend a week in Berlin, Germany. Berlin is a beautiful and historical city, but, it’s also a hip, modern cultural center. Berliners are some of the friendliest people I have ever met, and as I discovered, have some pretty healthy habits as well. Here are three that we can all implement to help us to lead healthier lives.

Make exercise a part of daily living

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One of the first things you will notice in Berlin is that there are bicycles everywhere. And, the city has made it easy for cyclists—there are bike lanes on virtually all streets and thoroughfares. If people are not on bikes, they’re walking. Berlin is an extremely pedestrian city—people walk everywhere. You don’t even need a car, because, the city has one of the most extensive public transportation systems in the world. You can go just about anywhere—there’s always a bus, tram, or a train in walking distance from your location. Between the cycling and the walking, Berliners get plenty of exercise. What’s so great about it is that exercising is just a part of everyday living for the people of Berlin, no gym needed. Time for me to dust off that bike in my garage!

Enjoy smaller food portions

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There’s no such thing as “Super Size Me” here. Food portions tend to much smaller than in the states, and the food is almost always fresh, and made from scratch. This is also true for beverages—especially coffee—it’s some of the best you will ever have, and, the average cup size is six ounces. By the way, once you’ve visited one of Berlin’s excellent coffee shops, you’ll be spoiled forever. Your fresh-brewed coffee or espresso is served in a cup and saucer (no paper cups here!), and some shops will even give you a cookie (small, of course) to go with it. If you want more than a cookie, many of the shops also bake their own breads and pastries. And, a croissant is about half the size of one that you would get in the U.S. We all know that smaller portions mean less calories consumed. Disclaimer:  If you go to McDonald’s, Burger King, or any American-style restaurant (yes, even in Berlin!), the food portions are just like you would expect in the states.

Eat slow and enjoy your food with loved ones

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Eating, for Berliners, is not just about getting sustenance; it’s also important to them to take time to enjoy their food with people they care about.  You can see this where ever you go in Berlin, at every café and restaurant. And, Berliners are definitely onto something. In fact, a recent Japanese study showed that eating slowly correlated with a smaller waist circumference. So, slow down, learn to truly enjoy your food, and surround yourself with those you love.

Until next time, auf wiedersehen (goodbye). To your good health!

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