When I was presented with the opportunity to study abroad in Ireland this summer, I couldn't say yes fast enough. My ancestors were from Ireland and I knew people who had travelled throughout the country and loved everything about it. I had only one minor hesitation when I began thinking about the inevitable change my diet would undergo while overseas. I generally eat pretty healthy, and I knew that traditional Irish food included a lot of carbs, fried foods, and meats, things I try to limit when I am focused on eating clean. 

Allison Witte

After about a month on the Emerald Isle, I have been pleasantly surprised with how healthy I look and feel, and I attribute this to 3 main healthy habits that Americans should borrow from the Irish. If you have travelled anywhere in Europe, you may have noticed these habits yourself, and I can tell you from experience that they are worth incorporating in to your daily routines.

1. Portion Sizes 

arugula, rice, vegetable, risotto
Allison Witte

Most Irish meals include some form of protein and then a heavy carb and some vegetables to accompany. All the components of the meal are really filling, and they serve up dishes in much smaller portions for this reason. When I first arrived, I thought eating out was a rip-off because the portions were so small compared to what I was used to. After a few days, I got used to the smaller sizes and now I am always completely full and satisfied with the dishes I am served. 

2. Social Meals 

Allison Witte

My favorite aspect of Irish dining is the social atmosphere that it offers. It isn't uncommon to spend a few hours at a meal, talking, socializing and listening to music with everyone around you. What some Americans would consider bad service is appreciated in Ireland because it gives you time to eat and drink at your own pace. I noticed that this was another reason why the smaller portion sizes seem like plenty of food. I have started eating at a much slower pace since I know my meal will last a few hours and because of that, I realize I am full faster and never eat more than I need. 

3. Walking 

Something that has made all the difference when it comes to maintaining my weight and health while abroad is how much I have been walking. Ireland is the Fit-Bit-Fiend's paradise and with such gorgeous scenery and tons of things to do, I rarely notice how much walking I do in a day. Although they have great public transit, I am always looking for ways to save a few euros (beer fund?) and walking is a great way to do just that. When I get back to America, I know I am going to be more conscious about my habit of taking Ubers short distances or hopping in my car to avoid the summer heat. 

If you have travelled outside of America and experienced some of these differences, or if you're learning about them for the first time, consider incorporating these healthy changes in to your life when you can. Your body will thank you!