Wablief? How do Belgians stay skinny?!
Andy and I have been befuddled by this question ever since the memorable weekend we spent in Belgium.
Over the past few years in a step to help with bloating and healthy eating, bread has not been a common item in our household for some time and chocolate as a subconscious rule is not consumed before 11am except for on Christmas Day and at Easter. This is not the case in Belgium. Chocolate is a main food group. It’s added to bread, muesli, yoghurt, biscuits, waffles, crepes anything and everything you can think of and quite honestly it is heavenly! You get to do away with guilt and consume it to your hearts content – yay!
We spent a delightful long weekend in Belgium with Charlotte (a “local”) and her family. I had been to Belgium before in similar circumstances and had fallen in love with everything about it so was eager to visit again.
While it helped that in every city we visited be stayed with friends or family, we were shocked by the extent of the incredible hospitality that greeted us everywhere we went. It was truly a magical aspect to the country that will ensure we never forget our time there.
Our thoughts on travelling in Belgium
- The food is great! Make sure you get your hands on plenty of fries with mayo, suikerwafel (sugar waffles) and of course chocolate. Mussels are a local dish too and well worth trying.
- If you can, learn a little dutch before you go. Flemish (the official language in Belgium) is slightly different but seems to incorporate most Dutch words. We love the app duolingo, which lets you learn major languages for free! Duolingo won’t give you a lot of practical phrases for travelling in the first few lessons, but it’s a fun way to learn and it will teach you the basics and give you lots of words to try out, which will provide loads of laughs for any Belgians you meet.
- Manneken pis is totally over rated. The main attraction in Brussels is a tiny fountain consisting of a boy peeing. It’s probably worth finding just to watch and laugh at the hundreds of people taking photos at all times of the day though.
- Don’t eat in the main squares. As in all major European Cities, the ‘Grand Place’ is usually the place to visit and walk through, but don’t be tempted to buy food there (unless you really value the atmosphere) because you will pay a whole lot more for it. You will be able to find the same food / coffee / drinks for sometimes half as much just a block or two away.
- One day in each of the main Cities will be enough to explore the main sites. While we totally recommend this as a place to slow down and ‘smell the roses’ (more on this below), you can cover the main areas with one day of walking around Brugge or Brussels.
- Belgians are styley! They take pride in their appearance. Pack some nice threads to you don’t feel silly being there.
- Get ready to drink with every meal. Take it slow and appreciate their good taste in beer especially. The choice will blow you away. My favourite was a coconut flavoured beer we tried in Brugge (at 11am of course).
- Belgium is not vegetarian friendly. In fact people will look at you very strangely. But hey, at least you can still eat chocolate right?
As part of our Weekend in Belgium we visited Brugge, Brussels and Hasselt (where most of Charlotte’s family was based). Hasselt is a small town most tourists don’t spend time in but we had so much fun there we have to recommend visiting. A posh, shopping mecca with a small town feel where you could easily relax and unwind for a few days, while enjoying your fill of chocolate breakfast, lunch and dinner of course!
So how do Belgians stay so skinny?
We asked a few locals what they thought and they simply shrugged their shoulders and smiled. After much deliberation we believe it comes down to their everlasting love of cycling (most profess this to be the national sport), small compact towns and Cities designed to favour walking to your destination and what appears to be a real appreciation of food and meal times. Most Belgian families have every meal sitting together (breakfast included) and treat each opportunity as an occasion to be enjoyed. Food is eaten slowly (which must aid digestion) and each bite is appreciated.
With our Belgian hosts each meal became an event in itself, one night incorporating table tennis games, the next night included rides around the garden on their hoverboard and by the end of the weekend we were making our own music videos.
Meals are not a chore to complete while sitting in front of the TV or sitting at your desk and the benefits show. I think we could all learn from the Belgians when it comes to this!