8 differences between American and German diets
- There are some big differences between American and German diet habits.
- Germans consume milk at room temperature while in the US, milk is pasteurised and refrigerated.
- Germans have a term for consuming a beer before noon, Frühschoppen, and some claim it helps with digestion.
If taking a trip to Germany, you might notice that meals last longer and fruits and vegetables are cheaper than in the United States. But that's not all.
INSIDER spoke to several German nutritionists about typical German diet habits and how they might differ from typical American diet habits.
Fruits and vegetables tend to be cheaper in Germany.
Processed foods are cheaper in America, while fruits and vegetables are costlier. This could be one reason why obesity in America is two times higher than Germany, coming in at 30.6% of the population. Obesity rates in Germany are at 12.9%. Average body mass index (BMI) in Germany is 25.32, and USA's average is 27.82 - 10% higher than Germany's, according to Nation Master.
"This could also be related to American portion sizes," said Monika Neubacher, RD.
Germans tend to eat less frozen foods.
For a few reasons, Germans eat more fresh food than Americans. First of all, German houses have small kitchens and small freezers. Secondly, the frozen food section is quite limited in Germany as the demand is not high.
"Germans shop multiple times a week for food," said nutritionist Gregor Franz. "We eat more fresh food, including fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses, as well as pickled items, and altogether these items are better for your body than anything that comes frozen," he said.
Milk is consumed at room temperature in Germany.
Yup, you read that right. Germany processes their milk at a super high temperature of 135 degrees Celsius, making it ultra-high pasteurised milk. "It may seem odd to Americans, but we store our milk on the shelf, next to our flour and cereals," said Gregor Franz, RD.
The American milk pasteurisation process heats to 71 degrees Celsius, making it safe for consumption, but then it also requires refrigeration.
"The other upside of ultra-high pasteurised milk is that it will stay fresh for six months, which is a huge benefit for shoppers who don't consume a lot of milk," said Gregor.
Germans tend to eat everything with a fork and knife.
Unlike Americans and their love finger food, Germans consider eating with your hands off limits for the most part. "It's frowned upon to eat with your hands in Germany," said Laura Behrens, RD. "We don't even eat French fries or pizza with our hands… it's very rare."
Water is not automatically served at most restaurants in Germany.
"We drink beer, not water," laughs registered dietitian, Monika Neubacher.
"Water is not automatically served, nor is it assumed to be a natural accompaniment to your meal. Typical still water is considered fine for bathing, but we do not drink it," she said. Germans do drink Mineralwasser (sparkling mineral water) and that can be ordered at restaurants.
Soda often comes without ice in Germany.
You've probably heard this one before, as it's common throughout Europe in general.
"Beware, if you travel to Germany and order a soda at a restaurant - it will come without ice," said Laura Behrens, RD.
Germans drink room-temperature soda. "This is an age-old tradition, and simply a preference throughout the country that is seen as the norm," Laura said. If you do ask for ice in your drink, you may be given two or three ice cubes at the most.
Frühschoppen: Some Germans consume alcohol before noon.
Some Germans are known for having a beer during the late morning along with their second breakfast (brotzeit).
"Hefeweizen is popular in Bavaria (including Munich) and beyond, and consumed with a simple meal," said Christine Kikisch, nutritional therapist.
"This particular type of beer includes a metabolite, a by-product of 4-vinyl guaiacol," she said. "What this means is that metabolites help to stimulate your metabolism, and your digestive organisms will interact faster, helping aid in digestion."
Frühschoppen is the German term given to having a hefeweizen along with company and a small meal ("typically it is bread, cheese, pickles, sausage, and mustard").
Meals in Germany often last for hours.
Americans are big fans of fast food. Even at a sit-down restaurant, Americans don't often stay for longer than an hour. "We eat slowly, spending time together without a need to hurry," said Uta C. Walks, RD.
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