Anyone who visits Turkey will know that the cuisine is sumptuous and varied, full of rich dough and sweets, so how are Turks mostly decent in general? Well, as you will notice there are a number of habits ingrained in the culture that promote very healthy ways of eating to feel satisfied and fully enjoy each meal, while not feeling heavy and allowing the number to rise on the scale.
Here are some important tips on how to eat like a Turk, stay fit and enjoy every bite!
For Turks, every meal is precious, while in restaurants it is clear, even at home, the table will be properly prepared for each meal and a large amount of food will be distributed, which will include both cold and warm dishes. There is an inherent rule that at least three different dishes should be included in meals, which in most cases will include soup and a vegetable dish accompanied by rice or bulgur and always a large salad. Dessert at home, as well as in restaurants, is often just a selection of fruit. What would also be available at every home-cooked meal would be fresh white bread and, in many cases, multiple loaves of it.
So how does this work as a tip to keep fit? Well, that’s because they enjoy their meals well and care a lot about having a variety of dishes that will satisfy every savory craving with ingredients like yogurt, fresh vegetables, legumes, seasonal vegetables, pickles, olives, tomato paste and red pepper. In other words, Turks enjoy satisfying and comprehensive meals that provide tremendous nutrition and therefore eat well.
Turks eat slowly
Except for the time when Turks eat fast food like doner wrap or fish sandwich, Turkish meals usually last a long time. From Turkish breakfast to meals at home and eating fish or kebabs outside, Turks take their time and carry on with every bite. It’s always amazing to me how small plates of mezze can go on tables untouched for hours. It’s not that it’s not delicious or that they don’t like it, it’s just that you savor every bite and have a sweet time. You will also notice that while there are fast food options, fast food chains that are driven by drive are almost non-existent, and eating in the car or parking is not a common habit among Turks.
Water, oil or yogurt
Turks actually have an entire type of water-based dish that consists almost exclusively of vegetable and bean dishes and the occasional meat soup. This means that the majority of Turkish meals do not consist of creamy sauces, nor do they contain many dairy-based ingredients except for yogurt, which we all know is loaded with healthy bacteria and therefore easy to digest. Meanwhile, there is also a type of dish that is based on olive oil and is mostly prepared with a base of tomatoes and onions. Olive oil is great for digestion and a staple of Mediterranean cuisine, which is now considered by many to be the healthiest diet in the world. This makes sense, even meat and fish are prepared sparingly and are not served in an extra heavy sauce. So the sauces are light and the nutrition is high in these dishes that form the basis of Turkish cuisine.
Many Western visitors will also notice that Turks do not start their meals by spreading butter on bread and you will be hard pressed to be able to get butter in most restaurants if you wanted to. Butter is a precious commodity and the bread baskets placed on the tables in Turkey are exclusively for the aforementioned juicy dishes prepared with olive oil.
Turks love their spices
Dried herbs such as red pepper flakes, paprika, sumac, thyme, and mint are all spices that you can easily find on the table as a seasoning in any home or restaurant. All of these herbs are really healthy ways to spice up a meal. In addition, many Turks love their hot dishes, and by that I mean seasoning, which they achieve by sprinkling red pepper flakes on almost everything and eating whole pepper, which is served alongside almost every dish as a garnish, grilled, etc., and from Bowls of pickled peppers sometimes also served on the side. Spicy foods are said to boost your metabolic rate, so Turks definitely enjoy this drive all the time.
Turks love fruit
Turks exclusively consume only seasonal fresh fruits and produce and will do their best to try to source produce and dairy products from certain regions of the country. Fruit is a big part of everyday cuisine, especially in the summer months when bowls of watermelon begin to decorate every table at every meal, breakfast included. Dessert is often just a plate of fruit, while other fruits and nuts like peaches and unripe almonds are also prized seasonal snacks.
Turks eat together
It is a well-known fact that people eat less when they share a meal with others. Perhaps this is also the reason why Turks manage to stay skinny because most of them share almost every meal with other people. Turks tend not to eat alone and instead will invite anyone and everyone they can join. And the more it comes down to it, the fun is definitely the mindset here in Turkey, making every meal a good time and a lighter meal at the time. Turks also like to digest their meal with tea regardless of the hour and then according to tradition, especially in the summer months, they will take a walk after the meal.