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I think America has an eating disorder.

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Old 09-18-2010, 09:41 PM   #16
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I don't believe that the American lifestyle and obesity epidemic are inevitable or hopeless. The common lifestyle can change for the better, and it wouldn't necessarily "tank" the economy any more than automobiles replacing horse-drawn carriages did (although there were folks warning that it would). As some businesses went out of business, other businesses would take their places.

We do have some nation-wide health-improvement trends, but they're the minority (right now), but the minority can become the majority. Of course change has to be triggered by individuals (most majorities started as minorities).

Right now, not everyone can prepare food using fresh ingredients - but most people can improve their current habits. The more people who make the change, the more popular the change will be and the more people will join "the movement."

None of us can change the world ourselves, but we can make changes for ourselves. We can get excited about our changes and tell other people and hopefully get a few more excited about it too.

When I was growing up in the 70's, you were lucky to find three varieties of apple in any grocery store. You were lucky to find more than six or seven types of fruit (not to mention varieties of each fruit) at any one time.

Changing our food and lifestyle habits as a country, wouldn't be an easy or a quick change, but I don't think it's an impossible one, but it will take people who believe change is possible and who are willing to change whether or not anyone else follows.
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Old 09-19-2010, 01:08 AM   #17
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I love this thread - it's been so interesting to read. I've always found it so ironic that when traveling, it's impossible to find "Diet" and "Light" items in some places, though the people in those countries are so much healthier than we are in the U.S.

I hate having to go grocery shopping but it's worth the trouble to eat healthier
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Old 09-19-2010, 02:37 AM   #18
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this is an interesting observation you have here!

my roommate is a Chinese classmate of mine (when you get into the science fields its rare to find Americans LOL). Even though I studied in China in undergrad, I didn't quite grasp all the differences as much as living with her now for the last year. For example, your comment you noticed about REAL food, I didn't get that til she was living with me.

She was helping me cook a lasagna (I was introducing her to my less healthy Italian heritage) and I handed her the can of sauce and a can opener. (because thats how I rock my "authenticish" Italian lasagna, out of cans! My aunts make the homemade fresh sauce, but my life is busy! Give me a break!)

I turned around a few minutes later to see her attacking the can in a very unusual fashion. I asked her what she was doing and she was all embarrassed and confessed she had no idea what she was trying to do. She'd never seen a can before!


Turns out, she only ever ate fresh or jarred foods.

Interesting! And way healthier! She's taught me a ton the last year. Its good to learn from other cultures.


Thanks for sharing and enjoy your time there!

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Old 09-20-2010, 12:10 AM   #19
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I lived and worked in South Korea for three years before coming back to Canada this past year. I found coming back to be a culture shock in many ways, more specifically the portion sizes are much bigger here. In Korea they eat fish, and rice as staples. Fish is quite heart healthy (omega 3's).

People are very busy, and many people walk and take the subway around the city. Fast food is available (even delivers), and many kids play video games in all night internet cafes. I think the Asian genetics play a big part in being thin, along with their diet.

In Canada (US as well), we are bombarded by the media to eat junk food, and fast food. I tend to think some people are brainwashed into eating what they are told to eat to an extent. It doesn't help that junk food is readily available, and cheaper than a lot of healthy food. I always gain weight when I come back to Canada from Asia. Mostly because of the change of food type, and the portion sizes.

As you mentioned, I found the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables everywhere. I had a fruit/veggie stand right outside my apartment building. I would get up, go outside, pick up a watermelon and tomatoes for my breakfast. Many other Asian countries that I have been to also have fresh fruit everywhere (they grow them in many SEAsian countries). How I miss the fresh and sweet fruit that I ate all the time when I was working in Thailand.

Good luck in Japan.

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Old 09-20-2010, 12:55 AM   #20
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Yeah, well here in Australia we are becoming more and more like the US everyday. There are less ingredients in our pantry and much more handy foods.
When I was in travelling in USA in 2009 I noticed some big differences just between Aus and USA.
1. How much sugar is in your bread - it's so sweet? So sweet I couldn't eat it.
2. Your portion sizes are incredible, i"d much rather pay 2/3 price for half the food. I have a very very large appetite for an Aussie, but I couldn't finish any meal I when I ate out.
3. Why do people add powdered stuff to their coffee rather than just low fat milk?
4. My cousins who had moved to the USA for 3 years were driving to the other side of Raleigh to go to a boutique fruit and vege shop - to get something that had any flavour (and thus nutrients?)
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Old 09-20-2010, 02:11 AM   #21
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I notice a big difference in TV advertising when I come home to the US. Europe and the Middle Eastern Gulf countries have a lot of the same fast food chains and junk food (Frito Lay etc.) as in the US. But you hardly ever see them advertised on TV; the food ads you see are local companies that are in fierce competition for the same niche, like the two or three major yogurt or ice cream companies in Greece. And those commercials tend to be more old fashioned, playing on the heritage aspect or family sentiment -- except for ice cream bars which are advertised with mild sexiness! being eaten by cheerful attractive young ladies! The food is always shown in normal portions (small for US, lol!) and there tend not to be closeup shots of it.

I actually find it a little gross now when I'm watching American TV; every twelve minutes lingering focus shots of gooey cheese or glistening ground beef on the screen.

I agree that processed foods (particularly the frozen processed pizza roll etc category) are a much bigger part of the typical groceries in the US then elsewhere, although in the last 5-10 years this is increasingly reaching these markets. They are literally having to remodel or build new, larger groceries to accommodate -- many countries in Europe and the Gulf literally didn't have "super"markets a few years ago -- you would go to a butcher for meat, a bakery for bread, a noodle maker for noodles etc.

And in many ways it does make life a lot easier, I have to admit. I remember my first trip to a Greek grocery as a student and not being able to find a single canned soup or tomato sauce! Did they really make it all from scratch?! But it's true what was said upthread: we're trading salaried labor so we have cash to buy the stuff, for someone doing the labor at home cooking and growing things and walking to the market in earlier days.

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Old 09-20-2010, 01:57 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ValRock View Post
People eat real food. Every morning there is a line outside the supermarket before it opens. The people do their chores, hang their laundry out, and go to the market. They buy what they need for the day and come home and cook it.
Didn't I hear somewhere, too that fridges aren't common b/c everything it bought fresh daily? (Or am I making this up in my head)

I think it is SO fascinating to hear how other countries do things differently.

I remember reading, too about how much modern conveniences have contributed to obesity. People don't push lawn mowers anymore, they buy ride on tractors. Snow blowers, plug in mixers, dish washers, laundry driers (instead of hanging outside), etc. Families own multiple cars and don't walk or ride bikes to get anywhere.
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Old 09-20-2010, 08:04 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by SCraver View Post
Didn't I hear somewhere, too that fridges aren't common b/c everything it bought fresh daily? (Or am I making this up in my head)

I think it is SO fascinating to hear how other countries do things differently.

I remember reading, too about how much modern conveniences have contributed to obesity. People don't push lawn mowers anymore, they buy ride on tractors. Snow blowers, plug in mixers, dish washers, laundry driers (instead of hanging outside), etc. Families own multiple cars and don't walk or ride bikes to get anywhere.
The fridges here are MUCH smaller.

I really wish we could go back to the days when we gathered eggs and hung out the wash and walked to the market... Maybe I should become Amish. I feel like my life would be easier than all this hurried non activity- activity kwim? We drive our cars everywhere and have to run on treadmills to compensate. It seems crazy!
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Old 09-21-2010, 01:33 PM   #24
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I've been in Asia for 9 months now and have noticed a few things. Rice and noodles are diet staples here. There's no negative stigma that's been attached to refined carbs. Yes, they eat smaller portions, but most of the time 75% of the meal will be rice or noodles... only 25% will be meat/fish and some vegetables.

There is no demand - and therefore almost zero availability - of "diet" foods like low calorie bread, frozen meals (i don't know anyone that owns a microwave), protein bars, wraps, etc...

I haven't seen any artificial sweeteners. Yes, they sell a few kinds of diet soda, but it's nothing like in the States where virtually every soda has a diet version. In the store I can usually find a Coke Zero... but that's it. Splenda and Nutrasweet don't seem to exist here.

The people here drink a lot of milk... but other milk products are more expensive and harder to find. I definitely miss cottage cheese! I found a single serving package of Fage Yogurt in an expensive grocery store that caters to foreigners.... it cost 5 US dollars. (Yes, I bought it! Two containers, in fact.)

However, there is no shortage of fast food. McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Starbucks, even Coldstone Creamery (and more) are all here and are very popular... For instance, I've been to Starbucks on a Sunday morning and witnessed several customers order Frappucinos! It blows my mind... and the "light" versions aren't available here. However, hardly anybody orders drinks in the venti size. I also think people go to these places less frequently.

As a calorie counter it kind of drives me crazy that I can't hop online and check out the nutritional info for the dumplings I ate for lunch... but it's been interesting (in good and bad ways) living in a society that's not so focused on weight loss. The upside is that I've completely stopped eating/drinking anything that's artificially sweetened and am eating almost all whole foods now... since I cook a lot. The disadvantages are losing the convenience of having those "healthy" prepackaged foods and spending crazy amounts of money when I find them (like that Fage yogurt).
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Old 09-21-2010, 07:32 PM   #25
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That's interesting because I buy Fage Yogurt here all the time!
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Old 09-22-2010, 02:14 AM   #26
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I find this thread absolutely fascinating! I never really researched the day-to-day eating and exercise habits of other countries. It really does put America in a whole new (and somewhat horrifying) light!

I think I will have to keep this thread in mind when I whine about walking to the grocery store or the expense of fresh fruit.
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Old 09-22-2010, 12:37 PM   #27
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Excellent thread. My husband's family is French and none of them have weight problems. Their culture is also one of shopping for a day or two for what you need and much smaller portions. I am not sure about the others posting here but my experience has been that most Americans tend to do major food shopping trips once or twice a month which is why they rely so heavily on processed foods.
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Old 09-23-2010, 12:54 PM   #28
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Earlier this month I spent 2 weeks in Europe (Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam) and I truly LOVED the way people eat over there! As the original poster stated, the foods were REAL WHOLE foods! Way less processed, packaged stuff. When I went into a market the majority of the market was fruits and veggies, breads (usually baked there at the market), meats and fish. The aisles in the market designated for packaged foods were few. When you go into an American market the majority of the foods are packaged with a little bit of fresh stuff around the perimeter.

Another thing I noticed was the amounts of sugar and salt in everything; waaaaay less than the U.S.! I admit I'm a bit of a food dork so I'm ALWAYS reading the labels of everything, nutrition seriously interests me! Their "pre packaged" foods like bread had very little or no sweetener, same with the jarred tomato sauces. Ours are full of sweet crap!

It truly inspired me to think differently about my diet and how I eat. I've made a new commitment to myself to put in the effort of cooking and packaging my own food. I'm currently on a soup kick and have found some of the most amazingly delicious, filling and healthy soup recipes! I feel good about what I'm putting in my mouth and how it's feeding my body. I'm proud of myself!

Edit To Add: I also noticed the portion sizes were all smaller. Everything from the large coffee at the corner cafe to the size of lunch or dinner at a restaurant was smaller than what I was used to here in the U.S.

Last edited by Bombe : 09-23-2010 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 09-23-2010, 01:23 PM   #29
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Quote:
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I'm currently on a soup kick and have found some of the most amazingly delicious, filling and healthy soup recipes!
Hey, hun, would you be able/willing to share some of those recipes? I'm a broke college kid who LOVES warm food in the fall and winter months. Mixing up large batches of re-heatable soup would be PERFECT for me.

If you are willing, please P.M. me.
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