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7 “No Diet” Healthy Eating Secrets from Our Sisters in Europe

By Peg Doyle November 02, 2022 Health and Fitness

In the never-ending quest to reach a desirable weight, some cultures that are worth studying are the French and the classic Mediterraneans, i.e., Greeks and Italians. When adhering to their classical way of eating, people in both cultures generally do not have a problem with weight.

Scientists have long been puzzled as to why the French, who eat a high-fat diet, are rarely overweight and have a lower incidence of heart disease than do the low-fat crazed Americans.

The answer may be pretty simple: The French, Greeks and Italians, for the most part, eat real food, locally grown. Also, they enjoy the experience of eating.

If you’d like to abandon dieting once and for all, look at these seven tips and see which of them align with your present eating style. It may also be a good idea to embrace the ones that do not constitute a part of your current eating patterns. You will feel and look better in a very short while.

Eat Small Portions

Eat small portions of really good and real food.

“Real” food is food in its original form – fresh vegetables, whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, unprocessed meat and fish.

Get Variety

Eat a wide variety of food, mostly fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Don’t Skip Meals

Don’t skip meals (you won’t forget to eat meals when you stop snacking!).

Eat Locally

Enjoy your food and choose fresh, locally grown, quality ingredients when possible.

Get In Touch with Your Body

Listen to your internal cues. When you no longer feel hungry, stop eating.

Avoid the Sweet Stuff!

Eat less sugar, a product found in nearly all processed foods. The French eat less than half as much as Americans do. Current research suggests that sugar, not saturated fat, may be a key dietary contributor to heart disease because of its inflammatory nature.

Be More Social

Make meal time social when you can. It can be more pleasurable. Just be sure to remove the serving dishes from the table after everyone is served. Linger over tea, not food.

Do Not Diet

What does the word “diet” bring up for you? Hunger? Deprivation? Doing without the food you love? How could that possibly work? Statistically, 85% of the time dieting does not work. Who wants to feel deprived? Not me!

What really works in maintaining a healthy weight is tuning into your hunger signals, having quality food in your refrigerator and pantry, and eating enough – but not too much. Eating in this way gives you room to have a treat now and then without guilt or any of those feelings that come up with dieting.

I developed my online program, 6 Weeks to Diet Freedom, for that very reason. It’s much easier to be successful with your eating habits when you know you will have delicious, healthy food than when someone tells you to only eat what you’re ‘allowed.’

The French have their cheese and chocolate, but in small bites of high quality. The Italians love their pasta, but the flour is unprocessed and the vegetables are the main event. These cultures eat slowly and savor their food.

Between Meal Hunger

If you feel hungry in between meals, there are several things you can do. You can look back at your previous meal and see if you might need a bit more protein (humus, fish, beans, meat, yogurt) or fat (nuts, meat, fish, olive oil, avocado, olives). Or you might discover that you go to the kitchen out of habit, not really out of hunger. Pay attention to your actions, and most importantly, eat quality food and tune into your hunger signals so you have enough, but not too much, to eat.

Soup Solves Many Problems

I’m a summer person, but one thing I love about the cold weather is making soups again. Soup is a melting pot for all things good – vegetables, lentils, beans and herbs. Find some recipes you love (there are many on my website) and have a pot of something ready to enjoy. Soup works as an appetizer, a full-on meal or as a between meal snack. Here is a Squash Soup, one of my favorites and very easy to prepare.


1 peeled and chopped butternut squash

1 small sweet potato, quartered

1 large onion, quartered

1 tbs. coriander

1 tbs. olive or avocado oil

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cumin


Sauté the onion in the oil. Add the other ingredients along with 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes.

When cool enough, pour into blender or food processor to puree.

Garnish with slivered almonds and a sprig of parsley.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What habits have you noticed about the way you eat that work for you? Are there habits do you want to change? Please share in the comments below!

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I worked for years with a lovely, small, vivacious lady who was from Malta—& ate a Mediterranean diet all her life.
After an incidental discovery, she had a large plaque build-up removed from her carotid artery, 15 years later she underwent a triple by-pass operation & recently spent 6 weeks in ICU (with subsequent rehab) as a result of a stroke.
So much for the healthy Mediterranean diet!

Peg Doyle

You can always find examples that are contrary to the research but by far the majority of outcomes from the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle are positive, but good research reaches conclusions based on large numbers, not isolated cases. Other factors such as genes, prolonged stress poor sleep or lack of exercise may be behind your friends story

celtic c

It’s not true that the Greeks and Italians don’t have weight issues. Go to Sicily and you will spot lots of dumpy matriarchs. As for the French and Greeks, they too put on weight when they hit the menopause, especially Greek women, but admittedly they do tend to eat an overall healthier diet

jackie becton

I just left Rome and the Mediterranean. I feel the fact that they walk a lot and everywhere is up or down a hill contributes.

Peg Doyle

For sure! It’s not just diet but also lifestyle.


I think the 3 (or 5!) meals a day plan has been debunked. Now we know that 12-16 hours a day of intermittent fasting is the healthiest way to keep insulin resistance low and therefore to maintain a healthy weight, since it is proven that insulin resistance is the cause of weight gain.

Peg Doyle

I stay with the 3 meals a day plan and not the 5 meals for the same reason you cite for limited time frame eating. With 3 nutritious meals within 12 hours one is much less likely to snack on low nutrient foods because you won’t be hungry and it will allow your rest and repair hormones to activate over the 12 hour fasting period, lowering the risk for insulin resistance.


YES! love this! I do love olives and potato chips with an aperitif or glass of wine before dinner – really good potato chips! Love everything about this reminder to healthy eating!

The Author

Peg Doyle is a healthy eating and lifelong wellness expert, recording artist, motivational speaker and author. She is passionate about the impact of quality food and a balanced lifestyle on women’s health. Her mission is to make healthy eating easy and appealing, using nourishment as a powerful tool for preventing the so-called diseases of aging. You can visit her website here

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