Is your culture killing you?

Defining culture: “The customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group.” Also defined as “The attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a particular social group.”

As the years pass, the more I adopt healthy habits and the less I blend in with the norm. No more late night runs for a Crispy Chicken at Mickey D’s, no ice cap and apple fritter or chocolate glazed donut at Tim Horton’s, no PC’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream or Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia on a hot summer day, no fourth or fifth serving at an “all you can eat” buffet, no Pepsi, no chocolate covered almonds or Miss Vickie’s Jalapeno flavor chips on Survivor nights, and only on very rare occasions would you find me eating one of Quebec’s finest creations; steamy hotdogs and poutine.

I am moving further away from the widespread attitude of “bigger is better”. Quantity is no longer my main concern; instead fresh good quality ingredients are what please my palate these days. Instead of coffee and a donut I would much rather go for an espresso and croissant, instead of a sundae or banana split, I would opt for a gelato.

Traveling Europe has allowed me to see first hand a variety of cultures along with their eating habits. We have been fortunate enough to visit Italy, France and England. While traveling, more often than not I find myself scanning the crowds and asking myself “Where have all the fat people gone? Oh… THERE’S ONE! Hmmm nope, fanny pack and camera… another tourist.” You can also spot them at a restaurant; they are the ones complaining that their chair and portion size are too small, and the pasta does not taste like it does back home. Or you might hear them above other chatter “What? Four Euros for this little bottle of coke? I can get sixty-four ounces of coke for less than that back home.” Well, big guy… the joke is on you!

I refrain from making generalizations, so I will not go as far as saying “Everyone from North America is fat”, but these obesity stats speak for themselves.

If you think those obesity numbers are disturbing, the following chart includes overweight adults as well.

Is your culture killing you? Some nations have produced a consuming culture where its inhabitants consume at all cost, even to the point of ill-health. These “bigger is better”, “super size it”, “all you can eat”, “free refills” mentalities have changed the way we look at food. Maybe there is something we can learn from countries like Italy and France not to mention China or Japan.

Instead of simply eating to fill the hole, why not eat to please the soul. Not everyone has the luxury of traveling, but most have the means and access to healthy fresh produce. Why not bring Europe into your kitchen and reap the benefits?

Many of us are eating just to satisfy our addictions. Instead can we make an effort to eat to nourish ourselves, looking to food to strengthen and revitalize our body? Come on people! Cut the junk! You owe it to yourself, you know you deserve better. You have procrastinated long enough, now is the time! Do not let your culture kill you.

“Fast Food Nation” photo provided by deviantART user: LollipopPaintbrush

“Paris Cafe” photo provided by Flickr user: netra.n

“Obesity” chart provided by NationMaster

“Overweight” charts provided by World Health Organization


326 Responses

  1. Great post and topic. I try and use my small plates to help me with portions. It can get a little absurd sometimes.

    • Using small plates to control portion size is a great idea! We are more likely to stop piling the food higher if it starts to spill over the edge, hehe. Many of us still find it hard to stop when we are full because we think it’s wasteful if we don’t finish. I have a quick way of judging how big your portion sizes should be, http://bodyhobby.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/balance/ . Congrats on being the first to comment, and thx for your time.

  2. That’s so true! I visited Paris and Madrid, and in both places the portions were smaller but more importantly the food was HEALTHIER! I loved it. Great post, congrats on being Freshly Pressed!
    http://www.denwrites.com

    • Much thx! My excitement is through the roof… since I was Freshly Pressed. Your congratulations are greatly appreciated.

      Ahhh I have been to Paris and hope to stop in Madrid in the spring, whatever they are doing it’s definitely working for them!

  3. Great post. When you travel in Europe the size difference between Americans and Europeans is quite stark. My husband and I have been on several cruises in Europe and I’m embarrassed by the way Americans pile the food on their plates. Europeans don’t eat that way.

    Our obesity as a nation is a ticking time bomb. As more Americans become obese/overweight, obesity-related illnesses are going to rise…with severe implications for our already expensive health care system.

    • Very well said… I couldn’t agree more! Ticking time bomb indeed, but change will not come quickly. In the meantime we can help get the word out, and pay it forward when possible. Thx for reading

  4. I couldn’t agree more! I also try to focus on quality rather than quantity. Yes, I spend a bit more on groceries than most people, but I think it’s worth it.

    • It’s true… a little more money and more time in the kitchen, but the results for your mind and body are priceless!

  5. Mmm…Miss Vicki’s!!

    -Lucky

    • That’s the whole problem… Mmmm the CRUNCH! Yummy. Still remains a good reward after hitting a milestone or reaching a goal.

  6. Food portions have gotten out of hand. It is just something we have become accustomed to. It does need to change…but…I am never giving up on my banana split…life is too darn short!

    http://www.runtobefit.wordpress.com

    • Ohh I hear you! We all have a few things that we just can’t let go, and that’s healthy for the mind no doubt. I like to splurge with a tall dark glass of stout on my days off. Occasional cheats help maintain that balance we so desperately need. Happy running…

  7. I really appreciate this entry. Since I’ve been at college, I’ve become a health-nut. Especially rare and hard to keep up with. Sometimes I feel like I have no choice but to eat pasta or a hamburger. It is either that or don’t eat at all.

    Your observation of Europe is also really interesting. I lived in Spain for some time during high school, and I noticed I was eating tons of (*gasp*) carbs, standard in their diet, yet I also noticed very few overweight people. It is actually something I still think about. What are they doing right? It’s really frustrating to me, and it’s nice to read that I’m not alone in feeling that!

    • Wow Spain… I hope to make a stop there in May. In response to “What are they doing right?”; I doubt it is one thing alone but a number of different habits and choices they make, which collectively helps them lead a healthier life. Having said that, you can’t overlook their lack of fast food establishments… I’m sure this means less people having access to food that is harmfully modified. Food processing techniques differ greatly!

    • Don’t eat too much of it. Move around the city by foot or by bike. Don’t drink too many soft drinks, choose water or water with juice.
      And again, don’t eat too much of it.. in the end, this is all it comes down to.

      Greetings from Germany :)

      • Good practical suggestions. thx

      • Brief conclusion!!good……but it depends on one’s willpower~

        • I concur… willpower is essential for success!

      • heh.. I just remembered a week in New York. Me and my friends used to eat breakfast in one of the shops – and then one donut during the day and nothing else until evening, all the while moving around on foot and touring the city. And we never felt hungry even once.

        • As long as a few senses are getting fulfilled… sight and sound while touring, you forget about your hunger. ;)

        • I strongly agree…..travel is a great way to keep fit,but it sounds a little impractical for a student.I used to lose many pounds when traveling but gained again back to school…..it’s much harder to lose weight for students live on campus….

        • Hi xinyu,

          Yes in reality there are far more days in the year when you are not traveling, so one needs to form good habits. What the experience does show you though… if we were to walk as much as we did on vacation, it might be easier to stay in shape.

          Students are often very busy which makes it very hard to set proper priorities. Little wonder as many students are working part-time as well. All the best!

      • Good advice. Moderation and exercise. When your commute is your exercise it makes everything easier. I’m biking everywhere now, but once the rainy season hits here in San Francisco, I’ll start walking again.

        Cheers!

        • All the power to you Mike! If one can stay active like you do, there would be no need to be a picky eater. If more would bike or walk to work they would have no problems enjoying more sinful pleasures!

    • I generally agree with your sentiment, but am worried by this whole ‘carbs are bad’ mentality that’s gradually taking over… complex carbohydrates are good for you!

      Carbs should make up around 30% of your diet, according to most nutritionists. Obviously, there is a big difference between refined and unrefined – the unrefined being wholemeal/wholewheat versions of things that are generally much better for you, take longer to digest and are much more filling than white ‘refined’ carbs, but carbohydrates should definitely be included in a healthy diet.

      As with most things, it’s a question of balance – eat a little of what you enjoy and try to stick to healthy options most of the time, including all the main food groups.

      I’ve had a few problems with my own weight, I will admit, but at the moment I seem to have found a fairly good balance and am trying hard to keep it that way! :)

  8. Totally agree! We always stay away from junk foods and follow the saying “eat to live, not live to eat”! I enjoy cooking and fresh foods.

    • That’s great to hear… keep up the good work! Your determination will no doubt help others.

  9. Ouch! What do you mean it’s what we eat? Isn’t it genetics or something like that? There’s got to be another excuse we can make…uhhh, nope. Great way to say it! You can’t deny it, the graphs show the ugly…fat…truth. Holiday pigging out season is almost upon us. Another odd cultural phenomenon I never quite understood. Although, then we have the lovely New Year’s resolution. That way we can promise to pig-out then lose the weight promptly on January 1st. Thanks for the post! I enjoyed the read.

    • LOL I know the type… the same ones that stand around the gym for the first two weeks of January… never to be seen until next year. It’s not easy and it’s a little different for each person but I do believe there are some major food addictions that are being completely ignored. Really appreciate your feedback, really I do!

  10. wow. That is scary that our culture has become so oblivious to how unhealthy we are!

    • Yes it is The Ugly Truth… the facts don’t lie. Cheers

  11. Very insightful post, I appreciate that you used macro data to support your personal observations. There are a couple of ways in which we in the U.S. (via our government) contribute to this. One is subsidizing the ingredients that go into junk food – so poor people can often only afford the very foods that contribute to obesity. The other is our refusal to reduce our auto dependency and implement widespread mass transit and walkable communities. If you compare the charts above with per capita health care expenditures and life expectancy, I expect you’ll find some correlation. (I’m new to your blog, so perhaps you have covered this previously.) Thanks for the thoughtful post!

    • Wonderful penmanship! Your comment alone is a learning tool for me to better my writing technique. Thank you so very much for this well thought out response, I completely agree. The most mainstream documentary that supports your line of thought would have to be Food Inc. There is a lot more to this obesity epidemic than just people eating to much.

  12. Your post is interesting. I have thought a lot about how American culture is starting to bleed over into other’s cultures. I don’t like that we have this obsessive need to “help” “less fortunate” countries out, or that we have to invade them with our own cultural necessities. I don’t see other countries trying to enforce their cultures on us.

    I agree also, that it is easy to spot tourists wherever you go. They are generally really obnoxious and only hang out in the parts of a city that are more well known or have some attraction to bring them in.

    They also tend to be obnoxiously taking photos of themselves standing by random things or just taking photos of buildings. Local residents wouldn’t be taking photos of the “attractions” because they see them all the time so they have no need.

    Although, I have been known to go to places just to watch the tourists but whenever I travel I try more to avoid these places because I know how ignorant my own culture is towards other cultures.

    I also thought your pictures were very helpful and enhanced the point of your post.

    However, I thought your introduction was very long and it took awhile to get to the main point of the article because you were basically talking about all the food you no longer eat.

    It also bothered me that you spoke in first person. I understand that these are your own experiences but I feel like it would be more informative if you strayed away from the word “I”.

    • Thank you for your honesty, it’s really valued. It is impossible to grow without direction, and I’m the first to admit my technique needs work. I will keep your advice in mind as I write my future posts.

      Love your input on traveling… it is nice to get off the beaten path and observe as a local would. Thanks again for spending the time to leave such generous feedback. Happy traveling!

  13. We don’t even have soda in my house. Our daughter is 6 and always has to ask me for something to eat unless it’s fruit or water which she can eat as much of as she likes. And except for pizza night – which is NYC pizza, not Domino’s or Pizza Hut- she has to have veggies with every meal, even if it’s just baby carrots or a bowl of peas. We don’t own a microwave, which means no sodium filled frozen meals either. I don’t think we’ve been to McDonald’s in about ten years. We aren’t health nuts at all, if Dorito’s are on sale then we’ll get them, but we see snacks as “treats” not meals. Little things can make a big difference. Oh, and no fake sugar! It’s bad for you.

    • I really hope that when I eventually have kids I raise them like you do. No sarcasm, just actual admiration. You’ve restored some of my faith in parenting.

      • thanks so much :) the other thing we do is that when she goes to a party, she gets to have whatever she wants. she’s just a kid after all and two cupcakes and some ice-cream on a saturday once in awhile ain’t gonna kill anybody.

    • Wow those are some good habits. It’s true many little things in the end make a big difference. Looks like your habits will steer you clear from the worst, yet you still get to enjoy yourself… good balance! Thx for sharing.

      p.s. “wagnerowicz” you’re an amazing example for many parents… keep up the fight!

      • thanks! i don’t consider it a fight though. if we don’t keep it in the house, she doesn’t miss it. we don’t force her to finish her dinner. if she’s full, she’s done, no big deal. she knows that her stomach is only as big as her fist too. i have actually watched, in awe, as that girl refused chocolate cake because she was full.

        • Amazing… she is going to thank you when she is a mother herself.

  14. When we were traveling in Europe (and Canada) we noticed the same thing…my daughters and I actually played a game in Switzerland in which we counted the fat people and tried to identify them by nationality.

    The best that Switzerland could do was five pudgy-to-slightly-overweight people. The really fat people (23) were Americans (20) or Brits (3). It was pretty embarrassing.

    The girls didn’t come with us to Italy, but again, most of the inhabitants looked much healthier than the tourists, even though the Tuscan food isn’t anyone’s idea of diet food.

    Our embracing the idea that food should be fast, cheap, and appear in huge servings is, of course, a lot of the problem. Another is that most of our society is built around the automobile. so walking anywhere is pretty difficult. Especially in the southern states.

    • So I see, I’m not the only one scanning the crowds while traveling. ;) Your bang on, I don’t have anything else to add to that.

  15. Your culture is killing you only if you let it. There is something to be said about mind over matter. Sure, genetics plays a role, but you do have choices, and at the end of the day, the responsibility lies with you, not McDonalds for offering that greasy burger that won’t mold for six months.

    • Correction: Won’t mold for several years. :)

    • True that! We must own up to our actions and make better choices in the future.

  16. I’m on the diet / fitness road myself. Being a freelance website designer means I’m on my butt for 12 hours a day..and at the end of it, I just binge eat! It’s horrible. Great post.. scary but great!..lol

    • Much thanks… Knowledge is the first step and then you can motivate yourself into action. I hope you can find a balance… work no doubt is a big obstacle. Cheers

  17. Scary statistics. Eye opening, to say the least. :(

    • Very shocking indeed, it affects so many people it’s hard to put it in perspective.

  18. An aspect of culture I dislike is how influential it is on the masses and how stiffling it can be. Take circumcision as an example. In the US, the majority of males are circumcised while most of the world isn’t. Yet, many Americans insist circumcision is a better choice than leaving the foreskin intact in spite of the numerous studies that prove otherwise. The culture has deemed circumcision as normal and to think otherwise is considered crazy to many Americans.

    • Unfortunately ignorance still flourishes, but until we accept and learn we will never grow. Thx for your view point… I have to admit I was not expecting to read a comment about circumcision. :)

  19. Read this and I totally agreed with most of your post; however, while I noted that you said you didn’t make sweeping generalisations, I found this very American-centric. A seemingly redundant statement you might think, but have you ever been to the UK? There’re now so many really fat people (and children) like you wouldn’t believe. It’s sadly quite normal to see really fat kids waddling around like baby hippos cramming their faces with McDonalds than actual healthy children. Anyway, slightly longer post next time please.

    • It’s true the UK is shockingly high as well. That is why I wanted to single out France and Italy… I still can’t believe how low China and Japan rate despite being very developed countries.

  20. Over-consumption puts so much stress on the environment. But I guess people just don’t care.

    • Humans are selfish by nature. :(

  21. You are right! more and more people do not make fresh and healthy food at home. This is quite common in singapore as well. most of the family do not cook at home due to fast paced life and busy work. Kitchen? a shinny and beautiful show room.

    • “shinny showroom” That is so true! I am afraid the western culture is spreading quickly.

  22. Hah! Glad to see the UK is holding it’s own in third place – the fattest in Europe! Like you I notice it when I travel abroad (generally from looking at the women it has to be said!). I don’t have this problem though as I eat sensibly and exercise, even though I have so many pet hates at the gym it drives me mad! Check them out: http://thislittlethingcalledlife.com/2010/07/20/pet-hates-gym/

    Good post!

    • Thanks, and all the best on your blog. Ciao

  23. This is a great article! Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks for commenting.

  24. [...] This great blog post got me thinking how incredibly social food is.  Many of our closest held memories are of food and the people we were with when we at it.  I remember an awful greasy frozen pizza a bunch of girls and I ate in a college dorm on some 4-H leadership retreat.  One of the chicks had this brilliant idea that it would be healthier if we blotted the oil off with a paper towel, she’s probably a doctor now.  Then there was that July afternoon when my Uncle (the fireman) pulled out the sparklers to put on my 7th birthday cake.  Someone said, “Those sparklers might burn the frosting!” and the overwhelming consensus among the critically thinking adults in the room was, “let’s put wax paper over the top of the cake!”  The next ten minutes were spent dismantling the smoke detector. [...]

    • Thx for the link.

  25. Problem is – we are so used to the supersizes now that we`ve lost perception for what a normal sized meal looks like…

  26. that’s why I love my mum’s cook..
    n the bes thing is that my mum cooks REAL food..

    • yummy what’s your address?? haha

  27. I realize I’m probably guilty of eating to fill a hole.

    • That’s the hardest step to make… acknowledgement. Your halfway there!

  28. I’m so glad to have been raised vegan in the beautiful USA! When I travel overseas I regularly hear: “You can’t be American, you’re so FIT!” (without the slightest hint of sarcasm). It gets mildly annoying at times:)

    • Sadly that is how the North American culture is perceived. Don’t let that stop you from traveling. :)

  29. thanks guy it reminds me of the documentary film, named supersize me. Even, junk food can send down the libido.

  30. I agree, I think Americans as a whole eat way too much. Perhaps if we ate only when we were hungry and tried eating only a little at a time more times during the day…no soda, try water!

    evelyngarone.com

    • Simple but very effective suggestions, thanks for your opinion.

  31. Don’t get me started on the fruits and their quality. I’ve been to Europe 3 times already and the boyfriend and I scan the crowds. Not a single fat soul. Sure, you might see the short stocky person, but they do not have an uber protruding belly. I do think that eating to nourish, sponsoring your local market and growers/farmers can only do good. Thanks for this, it is an eye opener.

    • Sponsoring your local market and growers/farmers is very important. Many people are too focused on saving a buck or two… at great cost to their health and local economy. I don’t always support local but I’m getting better at it. I appreciate you taking the time to talk about the issues at hand. All the best

  32. Great post and good timing before the holidays. I really think you would be interested in a documentary/research paper called Unnatural Causes. One of the most interesting points is how immigrants to the US come in more healthy than the average american and seemingly contradict known trends for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. However, their children have all the same disease incidence rates as american children. Peace to you.

    • Thank you for the reference it sounds very interesting, I will keep that title on hand. From what you have said thus far… it’s intriguing. Thx again for sharing.

  33. 1st to comment

    • Sadly not! ;)

  34. eating fruits and vegetables are good, but resturant foods are bad, bye

  35. such a true post. i often wonder why it is so hard for so many to change the disturbing habits that have arisen in many countries (primarily the US). convenience, ignorance, addiction… they all come into play (i personally struggle with these every day). and while it is not easy, it is entirely necessary if we are to reverse the shocking trend. great post and congrats on the fresh press!

    • I still can’t believe I made Freshly Pressed, I’m not worthy… I’m not worthy, although I am going to relish in the glory. ;) Knowing where one needs to make adjustments and actually following through, are two very different things. Honestly if it is something you struggle with… you have to make fixing it a priority above all else. Think of everything you gain by changing and do not accept failure. You must be completely driven at first, but before long it will seem like seconded nature. Please keep me posted… and don’t be shy to ask any questions. You can post them on my Q&A page. Thank you for your honesty.

  36. Nicely put together, I like the info you provided.

    The horrible chemicals that shouldn’t even be consumed that are put into our food should be of note as well. Not sure how common it is in other countries, but I know that in America it’s an epidemic as much as the large amounts we’ve gotten used to consuming.

    Food is only the tip of iceberg when it comes to how our culture makes us unhealthy.

    • Yes, thank you for pointing out the fact that many foods are laden with chemicals. I did voice my opinion about this awhile back… you would enjoy the read.

      Conspiracy Theory
      http://bodyhobby.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/conspiracy-theory/

      I would love to know what you thought of it. I appreciate your contribution. Ciao

  37. Well, I have to say, when I’m watching BBC America, I see A-LOT of fat people! And I’m glad to see they are 3rd behind the USA in the stats. There’s a certain presenter from England who presents a certain #1 rated tv show from there that is CONSTANTLY ranting about how fat Americans are. I’d LOVE to show him these statistics!

    I, too, have opted to eat better these days. I eat McDonalds once a year if that. Haven’t had a donut in years as well. Ice cream has been a challenge for me to opt out on but at least I’m eating smaller quantities.

    Great post! Congras on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Oh, I’m totally with you on the ice cream! Out of everything, that is what I miss most… although gelato has changed my taste buds somewhat in regards to ice cream. I absolutely can’t handle the bizarre flavors of ice cream anymore, the sugar almost knocks me out.

      I accept your congratulations… Much thx

  38. Yes our culture is killing us.

    And I’m with you, I would choose a fresh croissant over a donut any day!

    Excellent post. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Every time some says croissant, I picture myself in Paris slowly pulling apart a perfectly flakey croissant, while sipping my latte on a street side terrace. Ahhh French butter!

      Thank you for your kind words

  39. [...] Here is an interesting blog post about eating habits!! http://bodyhobby.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/is-your-culture-killing-you/ [...]

    • I’m thrilled you liked my post, thank you for sharing it.

  40. Someone’s gonna get hurt if my Dunkin’s coffee goes away…I’m just sayin’

    Thanks for the stats–good reading.

    Blessings,

    Ava

    Congrats on your Freshly Pressed highlight

    • A Dunkin’s coffee don’t sound to bad now does it, wink. Glad you liked the stats and believe me I’m thrilled to have been Freshly Pressed. Cheers

  41. Well moving to Sweden from the US had me gaining almost 20lbs. Its so bloody cold here I can’t bear to go out running, and it’s so dark I just want to hibernate all winter and drink wine…

    • LOL thx for your twist on things. Yeah the cold can be discouraging… I would not get by without the gym in the winter. All the best

  42. [...] Defining culture: “The customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group.” Also defined as “The attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a particular social group.” As the years pass, the more I adopt healthy habits and the less I blend in with the norm. No more late night runs for a Crispy Chicken at Mickey D’s, no ice cap and apple fritter or chocolate glazed donut at Tim Horton’s, no PC’s … Read More [...]

    • I’m delighted you decided to feature my post on your blog. Thx U

  43. LOVE THIS! Just today, the firm treated everyone to an employee birthday luncheon and I refused to go. I always refuse to go because I never eat out. I am probably the only person I know that actually cooks all of my food myself everyday. It may take my wife and I until eight PM to finish making everything once we finally get home from work at 6:30, but it is worth it. Our daughter appreciates it. For lunches, we bring our own. I spent an hour making a huge pot of potato soup for the week – all organic and nothing artificial whatsoever. I even seasoned it with herbs I grew in my herb garden! We’ve been doing this for at least five years now. Long gone are the days of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut and Starbucks, and GOOD RIDDANCE!

    I am conscious about what I eat. My diet consists of 90%+ organic foods. I firmly believe that “the body is my temple” and what I offer myself at the altar of my dinner table either makes me healthy or slowly kills me. Yes, I’m seen as anti-social and even called a “snob” (as I was today for skipping the luncheon), but I have to be smart about my food!

    Those are sobering statistics regarding obesity in this country. Luckily, I don’t fall into that category, nor does my wife or my child. When you factor in the high-risk of cholesterol, diabetes and cancer in this country, I am again reminded of how important it is to watch what goes in. Garbage in…garbage out. It’s not rocket science. :) Thanks for the post – I almost felt bad for being called a snob!

    • Now and then, I doubt myself… but as of late, my blog is proving to be a huge motivation for me. Hearing genuine comments such as your own is highly inspirational. I can appreciate the time you must have spent putting it together.

      Whatever you’re doing… keeping it up. That’s one of the best gifts you can give your daughter, a proper view towards food.

      Remember, when someone looks at you funny next time you are setting a good example, know that their look is due to envy. Again, big thanks for commenting… it has encouraged me to take in more foods that are organic. Happy blogging

  44. [...] Defining culture: “The customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group.” Also defined as “The attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a particular social group.” As the years pass, the more I adopt healthy habits and the less I blend in with the norm. No more late night runs for a Crispy Chicken at Mickey D’s, no ice cap and apple fritter or chocolate glazed donut at Tim Horton’s, no PC’s … Read More [...]

    • “That is why I added this blogger’s EXCELLENT POST”. You are too kind… I am truly flattered!

  45. Great post. Yes, our culture is killing us. I recently visited a friend in the hospital in Philadelphia. With one exception, all of the nurses were overweight. Then we went out to eat at a seafood restaurant. All of the patrons were overweight (including all of the children), as were all of the waitresses (I didn’t notice any male wait staff).

    • I can relate… when I cross the boarder from Canada into the US to shop, I can’t help but notice the difference. When we hit a grocery store or Wal-Mart the phrase we use is, “They sure grow them big down here!” Sad but true…

      thx for your view point

  46. Go Australia, we’re catching up on the USA. We do like to win at everything so I’m sure we’ll overtake you guys soon. I thought we’d be a bit closer actually, obesity rates here have sky rocketed in the last few years. Kids especially. It’s pretty disturbing.

    • A problem that is going to get worse before it gets better… an epidemic that is spreading into other cultures. Thank you for your observations from “down under”. Cheers

  47. Our food habits are not . . . the best, but compounding the problem is our over-stressed, under-relaxed lifestyle. It’s bad enough that we eat wretched things out of little white bags, but worse that we do it at our office desk or behind the wheel of the car.

    We can learn more about food from the Europeans than just about food. We can sit down with family and friends, take a break, and commune.

    • Great addition! Our whole relationship with food is so unhealthy… families are now too busy to sit down and enjoy a beautiful meal together. Sad!

  48. For all that culture can appear all-pervasive individuals must still take responsibility for their own actions, regardless of whether those actions go with the flow of expected norms or strive against them.

    • Absolutely… but it’s the children I feel sorry for. When its time for them to start making their own decisions, these bad habits are already deeply ingrained. At this point it seems daunting for them to turn their lives around, and many of them don’t have the slightest idea where to start. :(

  49. This is interesting because I am actually working on a video about compulsive overeating. It should be up on my page by tomorrow. check it out when you have time.

    http://www.ccranmore.wordpress.com

    • I will… you have my word. Thx for sharing, I will let you know what I think.

  50. The portions here are ridiculously big and were not like that when I was growing up. The portions are so much smaller in France and you’re totally filled up.
    I work full time and cook every night. It’s just as easy to make a pot of soup as it it to open a can.

    • Looks like you have found the right balance. I have noticed people from France eat very late in the evening but they do so very slowly, enjoying the company of close friends. It’s been proven that if you just give the food a little time to settle, you will feel full with less. Opposed to, not talking, head down, and cramming food until we have went too far. Very different approach indeed.

  51. This is great! I love it….especially the part about how it’s harder to blend in with the norm once we’re eating healthier :)
    I’ve recently started eating healthier (which is working out alright) and I do find that it’s harder for me to go out with my friends since most things we go out for are so fattening.
    Great post :)

    • That is a very difficult situation; at least until everyone knows you are serious about it. Until then, everyone feels bad for you and constantly insists that you are missing out. I remember those days clearly! Now I make sure I follow my plan as long as possible, that way when I’m invited out I will have some room to enjoy myself.

  52. This fits well to what I experienced in New Zealand while packing pears for export. We would talk about what happened next and the owner of the place explained the whole distribution chain to us: The small pears (normal-sized to me) were sent to Europe and the big, 1/2kg pears were sent to the US because they like things big and the Europeans would suspect they were genetically modified (which they weren’t, all pears came from the same trees). It even starts here, it seems.

    (A quick description of the process is here, for those interested: http://seyruun.wordpress.com/2008/03/09/more-random-ranting-about-pears/ )

    • I like your comment… fresh perspective. Sadly, I have not eaten any pears lately… but I will plan to do so now. ;) All the best on your blog.

  53. Cutting down on food happens automatically with age. I can now only eat half a sandwich, half a TV dinner (sorry, I am not able to cook often), half a restaurant order or a take-out. Don’t worry! You’ll get there some day! I prefer the nourishing kind of food, too, but it is rather hard to get sometimes.

    • With the types of lives most have made for themselves, they often neglect to leave enough time to feed themselves with nutritious food. There are plenty of things out there that take our time and sap our energy, I hope you can find relative balance.

      No doubt, advanced age brings added difficulty… that is why I am determined to do as much as I can while I have youth on my side. May you live a long and healthy life!

  54. Bravo! Well said! Back in the 50′s we were a “fit” society even though we ate Betty Crocker recommendations of “a serving of meat with every meal”. However, the meat was not hormone, antibiotic laden, the veggies were not GMO, and the bread had no high fructose corn syrup.
    We also did a novel thing….exercised!
    Thanks for getting us thinking!

    • You are so sweet! I truly enjoy reading your comments; they always put a smile on my face. I appreciate your feedback on my blog, I just subscribed to yours.

      In accord with your statement, our food is hopelessly loaded with detrimental additives. I put my spin on that exact subject in an earlier post call Conspiracy Theory.

      http://bodyhobby.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/conspiracy-theory/

      Keep up the great work… you have a very helpful blog.

  55. Euwww! That is so gross! I know what you are talking about, I’m 60 and most of the people my age are very overweight. However, I’ve never been overweight and I work out a lot. So, I go to the gym 4 times a week and there are plenty of people there from 18 to 80 who are all great looking and in shape – definitely not fat! I feel bad about all the people eating themselves to death – some of my favorite people are in that category and it seems there is nothing you can say to change their eating habits and non-exercising habits. Sigh. I can only take care of myself and try to instill good habits in my kids. They are in their 20′s now and both work out daily.

    • You are so right, ultimately you need to take care of yourself and that enables you to help your family. In the end, you can only lead by example, because it’s very difficult in our society to be completely open with others. Even if their life is at risk, they still don’t want to hear it, sad indeed!

      At the same time, you never know whom your actions might inspire, keep up the good work and hope for the best for others.

  56. I eat mostly organic, unprocessed foods. I’m also vegetarian. I try to eat out only once a week. That being said, I think I’m still greatly affected by the choices people make around me, as well as advertising. Every time I see someone going to a fast food restaurant or see an fast food advertisement, I unconsciously tell myself I should do that too. I think we’re all conditioned at a young age to think that time is shrinking. We should be working instead of making meals at home.

    • There is a real “evil” behind the mess we see around us, and yes, media plays a major factor. Greed drives that “evil” and unfortunally the majority have bought into that system. To have more and more things (including food) gives an illusion of happiness, but most are not truly satisfied. Many work long hours only to have enough energy to lie on the coach, eat and watch TV… the cycle continues day after day.

      All the best with eating unprocessed organic foods… if more were to follow your principles, the prices would conveniently drop. Ciao

      • Yup, we’re conditioned to believe that consumption is the key to happiness. Ipods, cars, lots of food .. if we have them, we’ll be happy. Buying things only brings temporary happiness, though. True happiness is deeper; it’s building a relationship with ourselves and the people around us.

        • Amen to that!

  57. Hi! I am an italian currently living in NYC; one thing I noticed here is that even if you buy italian pasta like “Barilla”, that’s stuffed with additives that we don’t use back in Italy, hence the flavor is sweet :( and you get an extra portion of carbs. To keep fit I would suggest to eat smaller portions of tasty vegetables combined with chicken meat or rice or pasta, eat low carb fruit as apples, use olive oil and parsil and most of all, diversify your meal :). E.G. you can combine “bruschetta” which is toasted bread (it has to be organic) with different vegetables; olives, spinach, aubergine…It’s enough to spread garlic on the toasted bread, add a few drops of olive oil on it and dress it up with vegetable or chopped tomatoes

    • Ohh stop stop… you’re killing me! :) There is nothing quite like an Italian speaking food lingo. Honestly, Italy changed my life… giving me appreciation for how beautiful and tasty natural food can be.

      One of the first things to go when coming back to Canada was the coffee maker; I now enjoy an espresso or cappuccino everyday. It’s my time to sit and savour the smells as I hold the warm cup in my hands. Watching the thick golden crema pour from the portafilter into a perfectly white cup provides a wonderful contrast of color. Steaming milk into silky foam and then watching it dance around the cup mixing in with the darker shades of espresso… this is a pleasure I will forever enjoy!

      I am sure you are familiar with my machine of choice… Rancilio Silvia. Shipped direct from Italy and worth every penny invested.

      We toured most of Italy back in 2008; you’ll find my photography at my Stew-Art-Prints website.
      http://www.stew-art-prints.com/ . You will see photos from Rome, Florence, Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Venice, Tuscany, Milan, and a collection of Italian Doors. How I long to return…

      Thank you very much for your thoughts and helpful post.

  58. I think every one is so lazy and doesn’t feel like taking the time to make healthy meals for their families and go out and do physical activity. So therefore we solve this problem by picking up something quick that is not at all healthy. we do it to ourselves but the community of fast food contributes to it as well.

  59. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. Another great blog.
    Always a pleasure. I’m reading a book now on the chemicals and additives that are put into our foods that set people up for failure to lose weight. Depressing but true. The corporations want to keep people fat so that they can make money off the food that we get addicted to, and they also profit from the diet trends that bring in money. Especially when people keep failing and have to try again. The sales on gym memberships or exercize equipment have never been higher than now as well. So, why is it we keep getting fatter and fatter as a country?
    Ma

    • Interesting points. The food industry fuels the diet, exercise, and health industries. How many jobs would be lost if Americans weren’t so fat?

      • Good point… there are ones making big profits from the misfortune of others. Just one layer to this complex problem.

    • Well well Ma,

      Finally found you in this jungle of comments. I still can’t believe I was Freshly Pressed, the feedback has been outstanding.

      I didn’t know you started a new book… very interesting. I’m sure we only know the tip of the iceberg when it comes to corruption in the food industry. Don’t dismay… it’s still very possible to success, hence my blog!

      Much love,

      Your Son

  60. [...] Defining culture: “The customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group.” Also defined as “The attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a particular social group.” As the years pass, the more I adopt healthy habits and the less I blend in with the norm. No more late night runs for a Crispy Chicken at Mickey D’s, no ice cap and apple fritter or chocolate glazed donut at Tim Horton’s, no PC’s … Read More [...]

    • It’s a pleasure to be featured on your blog. Thx for taking the time to share my post.

  61. While I appreciate the sentiment of your article and agree with you for the most part, I would like to point out that when you sate that everyone has access to healthy food I think you are completely mistaken. I thought this way too until I took a class in college. I learned that many of intercity underprivileged people in the US DO NOT have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, or any “high quality ingredients” Obesity is a problem and there are definitely people who are obese because they make poor decisions but there are some who have no choice.

    • Absolutely, Sarah. I was going to say the same thing.

      Our culture is, unfortunately, not just about personal choice. It is very much about access, and about the choices that are made available to you. Despite what you might think if you’re living in a, sorry, more white upper-middle-class neighborhood, we don’t all have access to fresh things. In addition, we don’t all have the money, when processed food is more available and cheaper – and quicker and easier! If you work more than one job, this can become a priority!

      We are a long way from changing not only our culture and our personal choices, but also the very infrastructure and industries that promote it. It’s just not as simple as making a personal choice.

    • Thank you both Sarah and Nikki,

      Your viewpoints are much along the same lines and I appreciate how you have made light of this issue. Perhaps it was hasty to saying, “we all have the means and access to healthy fresh produce.” I more or less was referring to the majority of the population, and unless I am completely ignorant to the plight of many underprivileged, I will be bold enough to say “most” do. Feel free to correct me if I am still out to lunch.

      I really respect your positions so I have change my post from, “we all have the means and access to healthy fresh produce” to “most have the means and access to healthy fresh produce”.

      I want to thank you both once again for taking the time to state your opinions. Sarah, in your college class can you remember any percentages of intercity underprivileged people that do not have the means or access to healthy produce? I would love to get some numbers so I am well informed.

      Girls, it was a pleasure,

      Stewy

  62. Pass the Nacho Cheese Doritos. Kidding. It is funny to witness some American’s reactions to European cuisine. Smaller portions equals smaller people. Not a lot of fatties over there!

    • You said it, I didn’t! ;) You put it plain and simple, smaller portions equal smaller people. Just as a smaller car requires less fuel and a larder car requires more, it’s all in proportion.

      BTW your blog is absolutely gorgeous… great eye candy!

      • Awww! Thank you. You are very kind. :)

  63. Wonderful post! The US’s ideas of portions is disgusting. I love American food just as much as anyone. But one regular sized hot dog is fine, thank you very much. Thankfully, I grew up with a health conscious mother who restricted my consumption of over fried, over fatty, over sweet, over salty food. Capn’ Crunch is still considered a dessert in my family. At the same time, currently being in college and on a tight budget, I find it walking the line between cheap, nutritious, and flavor a tight one indeed. I love to cook my own food but finding healthy ingredients that fit within my budget is tricky business.

    • I could not agree more… almost the whole cereal row is “bowl candy”. Even the so-called healthy breakfast cereals are still loaded with refined sugar.

      Even for the most dedicated, life does not always allow for perfection. A major contributing factor is the influence of media telling us we “need” more things, leaving less money for quality foods.

      I hope you find a way to balance everything, and I wish you all the best in your collage studies. Thx for sharing

  64. Nice, a fact I’ve noticed too, having lived for 2 years outside the US and many in the US prior to that. Portion sizes are out of control! Check this link:

    http://www.divinecaroline.com/22178/49492-portion-size–now

    I’ve tried to hint at the problem when reviewing restaurants on my part-food blog, but not as blatantly as you, so two thumbs up!
    Turn Left to Eat
    Expectations Come in Flavors

    • Thx for the links, I actually came across your blog about a week ago. I was trying to find how many ounces were in the biggest big gulp. I did see the 64 oz (1.9 L) Double Gulp, but I also came across the 128 oz (3.8 L) Team Gulp. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7-Eleven . I know it’s for the team, but I’m willing to bet there are people silly enough to take one for themselves.

      Maybe I’m exaggerating, most who are really thirsty will opt for the more sensible 64 oz size. Besides, they offer discounts on refills so you can always fill it up again if you are still thirsty. Note the sarcasm. ;)

  65. Okay … maybe I’m missing something, but how exactly is a croissant a healthier choice than a donut? Less sugar, of course, but I’d be willing to bet that a good real-bakery-handmade donut has equivalent or possibly fewer calories (depending, I suppose, on the size of the croissant).

    • croissant: pure fresh butter, unbleached flour and real sugar eaten sitting down while relaxing by the Seine

      donut: hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and processed white flour eaten in the car while texting and putting on your make-up

      • Great reply! So true about the donut its so mindless and processed!

      • Sister Earth Organics,
        You ROCK! Absolutely love your comment… beautiful blog by the way. All the best

    • Yeah what Sister Earth Organics said! She nailed it.

  66. Congratulations on being featured on Freshly Pressed!
    Great post!
    I live near a high school and more than a quarter of the students walk into the school carrying a super-size cola or latte. I wonder how they are able to focus with all of that sugar and caffeine. What happened to breakfast?
    On the flip side, my son teaches international culinary arts at a different high school to grade 11 and 12 students. Yesterday they made their own pasta from fresh ingredients, cooked and mashed pumpkin and created a ravioli filling with walnuts, and made a delicious sauce to go with it. Many of his students have never cooked at home, let alone tasted natural products, and they are loving and applying what they are learning. He’s an inspiring teacher and does not use pre-packaged foods in his classes. The students make everything from scratch and are starting to develop a discerning palate. Hopefully they will think twice before ordering fast food. It all starts with education, awareness, and availability.

    • Thank you for relating these experiences… how fulfilling your son’s job must be. Teaching such valuable lessons, and helping people instil better habits must be very rewarding. I must admit I am not a very good cook, but spending time in Italy has taught me cooking does not have to be complicated. The flavours of fresh unaltered food is enough to please the taste buds, and leave you filling satisfied. I really appreciate your comment, all the best to you and your son.

  67. wow.. nice article.. but i am actually shocked to India at the last.. 4.5. I guess there supposed to be a thorough research. But yes this is all culture that’s changing with along with the population increase.

    • Yes… a very low percentage. It will be interesting to see how the numbers change as our western culture spreads abroad.

      • I’m an Indian and I also thought India would be there somewhere in the middle. Interestingly India appears at the end of the list. Some of the Indian cuisines are sinful with a lot of calories and there are many obese people here.

        As if that wasn’t enough Mc Donald’s, U.S. Pizza and many other American outlets are cropping up here and burgers, pizza and coke have become the staple food for many of us.

        • You’re not the first to mention these changes taking place in India. The North American culture is quickly spreading, simply because it is the “in thing” to do. I would suspect media has a lot to do with this fast food frenzy! Thank you for taking the time to note your observations. Cheers

  68. The answer to your question in the title is “yes”. And I like how you put it: “Instead of simply eating to fill the hole, why not eat to please the soul.”

    I’ve long held a theory that when people don’t get satisfaction from the taste, they get satisfaction from eating itself, which leads to eating too much. Tastes don’t come from microwave oven or processed cans. So I think that we should put priorities back to the kitchen and start cooking good tasting food and savor them with family.

    Many may say it’s impossible given the daily pressure that we all go through. Again, it’s a matter of priority. Back when I had more demanding schedules in the financial industry, back when I was going home after 10 pm every day, I made it a point to put food on the table that’s home-cooked. My theory – you got to nourish your body and soul before you can put demand on them.

    Congratulations on a great post and being freshly pressed!

    • Those are some key points as well. Many blame it on daily pressures but ignore the advantages of a simpler life, and forget many of these outside pressures are self inflicted. They have left very little time in the day to eat properly, and a minute or two in the microwave is all they can spare.

      What can’t be overlooked is how addicted most are to highly processed foods with extremely high levels of fat, sugar, or sodium. The more foods are tampered with, the farther away peoples palate gets from normal. You notice this when you ofter someone healthy food and they can’t eat it without dumping salt or sugar all over it. The problem is this high tolerance to fat, sugar, and salt have been built up over many years, and it takes extreme dedication for someone to slowly limit their intake.

      Congratulations accepted! Thanks for your thoughts.

  69. I’m having this fight in my own family! My mom (thankfully) babysits my one year old son so that I can work part time. The problem is, she has him during lunch and morning snack…so he now knows that a cheeseburger comes in a McDonald’s bag, and there are also french fries in there. *sigh* I’m trying to fight my mom on it…but she’s sneaky and I can’t afford a sitter. Hopefully I won’t have to worry about it soon, but ugh! it’s gross! and frustrating

    • That’s too bad, especially when so many habits are formed at a young age. If that cycle continues it’s extremely hard to stop, and most can’t. There are a lot of people who condemn McDonald’s for spending millions on advertising that targets young children. This alone makes it very difficult to be consistent with your children, not to mention when someone is undermining your authority.

      Too many people down play the issues… and just want to see their children or grandchildren happy, but the best thing they can give them is love and natural whole foods. Many parents and grandparents should be commended for making the extra effort to pack lunches and bring children to a playground or park. The jungle gym at Mickey D’s doesn’t count either!

      I hope you find a way to resolve this issue, it is a big deal and you have every right to be concerned about what habits your child is forming. May I suggest you show the documentary Food Inc. to your mom, she then might see the bigger picture. http://www.foodincmovie.com/ All the best.

  70. Great post, it reminded me of my vacation last year in US and I was amazed of the serving sizes, unlimited refills and eat all you can restaurants, I never felt hungry when I was there. I even remembered when we went to Disneyland I saw a lot of people riding those mobility scooters because they are obese and can’t stand walking for long hours. I guess its those fast food restaurants that offer unlimited fizzy drinks (lots of sugar in them) as in Europe there are also a lot of restaurants but not the fast food type, which I guess food is much heathier and cooked as you order.

    Raymund
    http://angsarap.wordpress.com

    • Growing soft drink sizes are a major concern, since when did 64 oz become doable for anyone? It’s very common for restaurants to serve portions containing more than your daily requirements of fat, sugar or salt. Your smaller to average size person can get their daily calories in one sitting. Yet we still have millions that go to bed hungry… waste waste waste :(

      On a different topic… I took a look at your blog. Some tasty looking food I must say, it actually made me hungry. If you don’t mind, I would like to offer a suggestion… the overall feel of your blog is great. Clean, precise, and is generally pleasing to the eye, but I was not sure your template colors match a food blog. The yellow lined paper reminds me of school and I actually think the yellow tint bleeds into the food colors. I imagine a lighter background something a little more clean and fresh, something to lift the spirits. Notice how these three food blogs use white as a neutral color and the photos really pop of the page. That is just my opinion though…

      Pinch My Salt

      Simply Recipes

      La Belle Aurore

      Thank you for commenting…

  71. Your points about portion size and quality vs. quantity are very important, and I think it’s wonderful to see this on Freshly Pressed! Congrats :]

    • Your too kind… I’m delighted you think my post was worthy of Freshly Pressed.

  72. [...] Is your culture killing you? (via My Body Is My Hobby) By Marketing Geek Defining culture: “The customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group.” Also defined as “The attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a particular social group.” As the years pass, the more I adopt healthy habits and the less I blend in with the norm. No more late night runs for a Crispy Chicken at Mickey D’s, no ice cap and apple fritter or chocolate glazed donut at Tim Horton’s, no PC’s … Read More [...]

    • I appreciated the link. All the best!

  73. Brilliant post. I remember when it was pointed out to me that sure, upsizing may be 20 cents, but it’s a hugely increased calorie intake. I try to eat healthy most of the time, and when I have a craving, I get the smallest serving that I can. It makes eating well pretty darn easy.

    • Yeah… most think, it’s only a few more cents and you get so much more food. In reality the smaller sizes are still less expensive, and there is usually still enough food for the average person to feel satisfied. A very common mistake people make is to leave too much time between meals, when you are starving to death you are going to order too much food. I have five smaller meals a day, this keeps me feeling satisfied and never starving. Does wonders for stabilizing insulin levels and also promotes fat loss! Three moderate sized meals and two fruit/berry protein shakes.

  74. Great blog! I have just moved here (Toronto) from France. I have been surprised by the amount of prepared meals in supermarkets but also delighted by the amount of good, fresh ingredients and farmers markets.

    I will be following your blog and hope to get some advice on getting in shape!

    • I have a special place in my heart for France! Thats good to know that Toronto has many markets, here in Montreal I am just a few minutes away from a beautiful market. Feel free to post any questions on my Q&A page, I’ll be happy to answer them.

  75. Great post, congrats on being freshly pressed :)

    • Very crazy… what an experience to be Freshly Pressed! This much feedback was totally unexpected.

  76. Great post! America seriously needs to shape out. my boyfriend and I are fresh out of college and we are realizing this is really when you could start losing your shape. We are joining a gym asap!

    We really need to start looking to our neighbors and controlling our feeding frenzy.

    • It certainly does not get easier has life goes on, that is for sure. All the best in finding a gym… eating healthy whole foods and doing weights is your best bet. Even as a women please don’t overlook the benefits of lifting weights, after the first few months you will be very pleased with your results. Keep me posted.

  77. [...] saw this article on the wordpress home page today. His post covers some of reasons behind the United States obesity [...]

    • Glad you liked it… thx for sharing it!

    • Just wanted to add… I’m indebted to you for taking the time to write a short bio about me. It’s very interesting to here others sum you up!

  78. Great Blog! Its a good outlook to have. I have been trying to stay clear of processed foods which is difficult in this day and age but feeling so good for it.
    I am off to Italy, France and a hand full of European places so I am vigously trying to get in better shape so I am not the Fat Aussie tourist.
    I have a very good Thai friend who is teaching me soooo much about what to eat. I don’t think they have any overweight people there! Another country to admire.

    • Awesome… enjoy your travels! I hope you are able to reach your goals before leaving. Promise me you will make a few exceptions and indulge in a few Italian and French delicacies. France: croissant, baguette, latte, and canard (duck). Italy: pizza, pasta, caprese salad, espresso, and gelato. You won’t regret it! You never know when you will have the opportunity to go back and you don’t want to miss out. Besides, you can always work your butt off when you get back!

      Have fun… take in every moment. Keep me posted.

      Ciao

  79. I’m glad you’re talking about this.
    I was just thinking today that it’s criminal to offer people the food our culture has created, ESPECIALLY TO CHILDREN!
    My 14 month old has never tasted chips, she eats asparagus like it’s candy and while I can control what she eats, it will be healthy as possible. Once she older, I can’t control what other kids will be brining to school – I hope by then we will have gone through a major shift.

    Go raw, as much as possible.
    Learn a bit about how your body works – this helps when
    you’re making decisions about what to eat.

    anne marie

    • How wonderful it is when parents love their children so much and instil good habits at an early age. Your anxiety concerning her future peers is well justified, as each generation becomes more lax with discipline toward their own children.

      There is an overwhelming misconception that we can’t hurt our children’s feelings, so we must stop at the “golden arches” or else they will throw a fit. Few parents these days see the drastic consequence from never saying no to their children. Due to this “system”, many mothers and fathers think they are bad parents if they don’t let their children have junk. Since when did feeding your child junk food and slowing making them unhealthy, become the “normal” thing to do?

      Even if they somehow manage to be half-normal once mature, they will eventually find out you can’t always get what you want. Unless I’m the only one who doesn’t like being around someone who has never been told “no”.

      You should be commended for all your efforts… your daughter in time will see fully, how much you really love her. Thank you for your comment… all the best.

  80. You need to check out Sally Davies Happy Meal Project.

  81. Can I say this is amazing! I love when its shocking true because thats when when people listen. These facts blow my mind. Its amazing how the portions in other countries are not only smaller but fresher. Thanks for the post
    http://www.bigmusclesbiggerheart.wordpress.com

    • Thank you for your enthusiasm! No one has all the answers… how this “growing” problem will be solved, but it’s obvious there is a “big” problem. I’m glad you like the way I presented the information… thx for reading.

  82. [...] I just came upon this killer blog about how our country is killing us. As much as I love food and huge sizes and never ending braizlian BBQ. This blog opens up my eyes with the statistics. Crazy street man…check it out it will shock you. Fuck we are a FAT country… http://www.bodyhobby.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/is-your-culture-killing-you/#comment-264 [...]

    • Thx for helping spread the word by posting on your blog.

  83. Food is a big dilemma in the world. I really watch what I eat, and compared to most people I know, I’m the skinnier (not to mention healthier) of the bunch–and I am not skinny at all. I’m not even slim. I’m average, although very fit. Still, seeing those graphs really kinda freaked me out all over again (I freak about this kind of stuff every now and then). Cheers to healthy eating, I guess. And congrats on getting Freshly Pressed!

    • If more were to freak-out over this stuff, the stats would not be so bad. People’s own problems are what complicate the issue… there is no black and white solution.

      The bottom-line is, no junk = healthier. How will we stop people from eating junk? That’s a very difficult question to answer!

      Thx for the congrats. Cheers

  84. I have had two students from Sweden live with me and they both gained 20+ pounds in a year! They were amazed at the prepackaged foods and proportions. Within a month their culture of spending 30 minutes boiling a potato and an egg fell away to picking up a sandwich at Subway. It is too easy and CHEAP to eat bad!

    • YES… I agree, it’s too convenient and too affordable to eat bad! I thought this reader summed it up nicely with his comment:

      “As long as food industry lobbyists influence government policy and advertisers continue to peddle cheap and empty calories North America will remain obese. The overwhelming message today is that junk food is fun.” Paris Evangelou

      Send my apologies to both your friends from Sweden. ;)

  85. Why bring Europe into your kitchen, when I can bring my backyard in? On my property I raise my own chickens for eggs and meat, grow apples,grapes, prunes, a variety of vegetables, greens and smaller fruits. I get mushrooms in the morel season, and fish from my creek. Great post!

    • Wow, you have quite the set up! I can’t say that is an option for me, I live in the city. The best I did was a few tomato plants, but the squirrels made quick work out of them, one nibble out of each tomato. :(

  86. This definatly makes me want to pay more attention to what I eat!

    • Awesome, I hope it has the same affect on others, and gets them thinking.

  87. Great post. I’d love to know the relationship between these stats as compared to fresh foods verses processed. That is grandma using real eggs and bananas for a cake rather than a supermark bought brand with banana and egg flavoring and coloring!

    • That is a very good question! I found this interesting information:

      “Americans get processed food not only from fast-food restaurants but also from their neighbourhood grocery stores. As it stands, about 90 percent of the money that Americans spend on food is used to buy–that’s right–processed foods.” Sixwise.com

      You can read the full article here: All the Health Risks of Processed Foods – In Just a Few Quick, Convenient Bites

  88. As my grandfather says,
    ‘some people live to eat,
    and some eat to live.’

    excellent post.
    so long as you don’t let the latter go out of control (i would know about this), i believe it is the way to go.

    keep this going. thanks for posting.
    <3

    - s

    • They sure don’t make them like they used to! With all the modern technology and human advancement these days, it’s ironic we can’t get something as basic as eating figured out.

      Thank you for your encouragement, it really helps. Cheers

  89. Great post about a big problem in America. Makes me realize I need to continue encouraging my kids to eat healthier. Congrats on being freshly pressed.

    • I’m grateful for your congratulations. All the best with encouraging your kids to eat healthier, it’s not an easy job considering what we are up against. Until next time, thx for commenting.

  90. “Not everyone has the luxury of traveling, but we all have the means and access to healthy fresh produce.”

    I beg to differ… you fail to notice that there is a correlation between poverty and obesity.

    I am one of the fortunate people who has the means to travel and eat well, but there many people who would love to eat high quality food everyday, but are unable to afford it.

    • There are others who voiced similar opinions, so I made the following revision to this post: “most have the means and access to healthy fresh produce”. Although, you still might be inclined to respectfully disagree…

      It’s important to note that in many countries there is a huge correlation between poverty and people being underweight, malnourishment and starvation being the extreme example.

      A question I hope to tackle in a future post is: What contributes to our poor becoming obese when many other poor people around the world are underweight?

      Thank you so much for taking the time to express your viewpoint. I hope we have another opportunity to discuss the issues at hand.

  91. I’m so onboard with this that you just tell me who we need to publicly humiliate to solve this growing problem and it will be done.

    I wish more people paid attention to what goes into their mouth. I’ve always tried to pay attention to what goes into mine and I’m not even just talking about food.

    • There is a fine line between giving helpful counsel and discouraging someone. Everyone is different… but I do see the need for people to realize how serious this issue is. Some might be offended but hopefully most will see my sincerity and be motivated. No one likes to be told what to do and very few prefer straight up advice, thats what makes it so tricky.

  92. Hey, thanks for posting this. With half the blog-o-sphere angry about a hate filled article about people being overweight it’s nice to see that it is possible for someone to put some thought into it all and post something of worth. Again, thank you.

    Honestly, for the longest time I never worried about what I ate. I was one of those lucky people who, no matter what they ate or how much, never gained weight. I weighed 88 lbs on my wedding day, and not for lack of trying to gain weight since I was at least 20 lbs underweight. Then I had kids and they developed food allergies and one of them was born with celiac disease. In the process of learning how to feed everyone without killing them (we are talking 56 food allergies here between my kids) I learned a lot about what was put in food and I started to wonder how people could eat some of the processed pre-packaged food out there. I think a lot of eating habits would change if people would start reading the ingredients on some of the stuff they buy. I remember having a discussion with my husband a while back about eating two cans of ravioli for lunch at work. “Do you realize that is a weeks worth of sodium in one meal?” This is a man, that thanks to getting shafted when it comes to genetic diseases, has high blood pressure and really didn’t need to be eating the stuff at all. People don’t think about what they are eating. There are those that grew up eating what was put in front of them and still do that without questioning anything. Since the 70′s we have gotten more and more convenience foods. Since people don’t want to be bothered as little as possible with cooking they have come to depend on these processed foods in cans, jars and boxes.

    It’s going to take a lot to get society to change their mindset on food and lifestyle.

    • Thank you so much for your generous comment; I’m so pleased to see people taking the time to write such detailed remarks. I am also very glad you thought my post was palatable! The last thing I want is to offend someone who is in need of encouragement, which would be counterproductive.

      I agree with you totally, there is a huge disconnect between people and food. The majority do not take the time to read labels and educate themselves on what they are putting in their bodies. Astonishingly many don’t realize that the food industry does not have their best interests in mind.

      Your right it is going to take a lot to get society to change their mindset on food and lifestyle. Until then, let’s educate educate educate.

      Thanks for reading

  93. nice blog!
    i’ve watched Oprah about this overweight stuff among Americans. Most of American kids eat yummy stuff like EVERYDAY such a burgers etc. Like Asian, we eat rice..vegetables, sushi etc!

    • Thank you so much. We can learn a lot from Asian cultures… many things are steamed or boiled if I’m not mistaken. Far too many foods here in Canada and in the US pass through the deep fryer before hitting our plates. Although Asian food in restaurants is often deep fried as well… so one needs to exercise caution. Thx for commenting

  94. This is a good reminder that obesity is a constant problem in the US. I would like to add during my trip to France, I noticed a lot of thin to normal sized people; however, I also noticed that a lot of people smoke. Smoking suppresses hunger which could also be a factor in a nation of weight-healthy people. Especially when you consider how much butter you put in all that rich and delicious French food. But smoking isn’t exactly a healthy alternative.

    That said, I think it’s fine to eat what you want and drink what you want as long as it’s in moderation.

    • Everything does come down to balance/moderation. Yes, it is very common in France to see people smoking while relaxing on a terrace, cigarette in one hand and espresso in the other. Although it seems typical for the French, I have no stats to support that they smoke more than other countries.

      As a whole, they are more active and at the end of the day consume much fewer calories than the average overweight or obese North American. In addition, the French eat more nutritionally dense foods, and no doubt, less processed and modified foods. Maybe that is why they get away with using so much butter!

      Thx for your view on things

  95. Your post is a re-enforcement of a good thought followed during the ancient ages. Scholars, teachers, athletes and many other learned people used to eat just a handful of grains and milk in those days. That’s how they used to be fit and energetic and contributed so much that we still depend on their contributions. It’s not just developed countries but also countries in South and South East Asia binge on junk. Particularly in India where youth in the age-group of 15-35 think and believe living on junk food is uber cool. And only when their trousers get tighter that they try to pull the plug and that pulling can get really expensive and painful. And in contrast to them are millions and millions of poor who go to bed without a meal everyday. It’s sad but true.

    • Interesting viewpoint. After every new technological advancement there are good and bad side effects. With each step forward there seems to be steps backwards in one form or another. Humans have never had the means to produce so much food or the knowledge to define what is “healthy”, yet we are making ourselves sick.

      Feast and famine as always been a part of man’s history, whether humans are capable of finding a balance remains to be seen.

      Your thoughts are appreciated

  96. I have lived in Dubai for a little over two years, and there I enjoyed Lebanese, Middle Eastren cusines but hardly gained any weight. Now I have been in Australia since 2009 and in just 18 months I have put on so much weight that I am not even sure where to begin the weight lose process. Australia has made me fat (and my hubby) despite the fact we dont eat out, dont even use soft drinks etc. Its like everything has double the calories amount in it..

    • I love hearing experiences of those who have moved from one place to another, it gives a more accurate comparison. Visiting a country will only give you a taste of what that culture is like, but you have seen both sides and know the contrast… it must be difficult as it sounds like you are more or less balanced. There are so many opinions and too many programs to choose from, but a suggestion that can apply to any culture is to get more exercise and eat smaller portions. Tastes differ greatly so its best if I recommend for you to follow your taste buds, but stop before you are full.

      One great way to curve hunger and make sure you never overeat, is to have five smaller meals a day. It sounds like a lot but I have my three meal (smaller size) and I add two protein shakes in-between. If you wait too long between meals you will feel starved and will most likely over eat. Eating more frequently tells your body it has plenty of food and there is no need to store more fat, your body then begins to use fat as an energy source as well.

      Here are a few articles on portion size:

      Balance
      The perfect balance!

      High insulin triggers fat storage in your fat cells, so try your best to eat healthy low-glycemic foods, here is a list of foods best to worst:

      Peak your interest?

      Let’s keep in touch. If you have any other questions feel free to post them on my Q&A page.

  97. surprised to see Mexico on the list at #2….

    http://bubblecube.wordpress.com

    • That was a surprise to me as well. Obviously there are more issues involved than just too many fast food restaurants… Mexico no doubt has other challenges.

  98. I so agree with this article.
    In SA, there is a culture (we have 11 cultures in our country) which eat a lot of food where the ladies are obligated to get big bums. This apparently shows that the woman who eat so much food to get her bum big, that she is fertile. Yes, can you believe that?
    And when you reason with that culture, they just don’t believe the fact that this is bad for their bodies.

    • Many different pressures in many different forms… I did see a program on TV where one culture the bigger the women were the more they were considered attractive. There was so much pressure to be large that mothers would force feed their daughters with extremely fatty foods. These no longer little girls were being fattened like animals… sad indeed.

  99. Seeing America (Alfred) Pulled me into your blog, then I started reading.

    Yes, I am aware how America is, the food is killing us. I can’t even find healthy food with out it being “biotech/ messed around with by “smart” people.” I hate how easy it is for children to grab something out of a vending machine, when its pure junk. I mean, what is 100% of anything today?

    The best way I can see America making anything better, is have a fast food chain of nothing.

    • So glad you enjoyed my post! It is the wildest thing to have people give feedback on issues that have been bouncing around in my head.

      What really gets me is how deceiving advertising is… I have quoted this reader once before but I must once again:

      “As long as food industry lobbyists influence government policy and advertisers continue to peddle cheap and empty calories North America will remain obese. The overwhelming message today is that junk food is fun.” Paris Evangelou

      That about say it. Thank you very much for your comment.

  100. Your post immediately caught my attention on the Freshly Pressed page, mostly because I have been thinking so much about food and what to eat or not eat lately. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful post, and the graphs were very interesting as well. You have definitely added to my list of reasons for changing my habits and adding fresher foods to my diet.

    • Honestly your comment really warms my heart. I was unsure if I should continue spending the time to blog, but after hearing comments like this it inspires me to keep going. I’m also glad the post came across in the appropriate manner. All the best… don’t hesitate to post any questions. THX

  101. yes, I think fat is a problem in the USA, as the bad habit of all people.

    http://hairstraightenersusa.wordpress.com

    • Yes, a growing problem as the stat so plainly show. :(

  102. Umm my country is depeloped country but looks like the nation is poor according to the diagram.. Ahaha ;’(

    • There were many surprising facts… I still can’t believe that obesity is almost non-existent in a number of different countries.

  103. I can’t agree more. Me and my girlfriend have cut out the Mickey D’s and other junk for baked veggie nights, meat free mondays, salad instead of chips and such. Later on you start to crave those things. I get grumpy if i don’t get my steamed veggies! You have SO much more energy when you eat healthy.

    Culturewise we have a problem in South Africa where in some cultures if a woman is bigger, it means that you (the man/family) are richer. This tradition stems from a time when you had to go and harvest your food yourself. Now this coupled with a rich Western diet and easy lifestyle, malnutrition/obesity becomes really problematic.

    I guess bigger is better when we get a bigger garden to start doing a veggie garden. Hehe. Green, healthy and some exercise (dusting off the dust from the garden tools) too!

    • “Green, healthy and some exercise” that about says it! Congratulations on making those small sacrifices and cutting out the junk. I wish more people would just try it, they would soon see that it gets easier with time. It’s true, once you start eating healthy it’s hard to imagine going back to your old habits.

      Thank you for relating your experience from South Africa… no culture is completely immune to this problem. Thanks for reading!

  104. I don’t agree that culture can be responsible for one’s health it has to do with us. We don’t want to take responsible for ourself so we find a reason to blame it. Infact we should try and pay attention on what is wrong with what we are doing because of which our health is affected. We should enjoy and respect our culture.

    What one can do is eat a little less or even if you end up eating more then exercise more. One needs to take control of one’s body and mind. Make up your mind you would eat small portions of everything and go jog and burn off those extra calories, that way you enjoy both your culture and you lead a healthy life.

    In every country their are festivals and celebrations and people just go out and enjoy but now people have started to take control of thier health.

    YOU HAVE ONE LIFE TO LIVE RESPECT WHAT YOU HAVE AND LIFE WILL BE KIND TO YOU.
    EAT IN PROPORTION
    SLEEP ON TIME
    EXERCISE ON TIME
    YOU WILL BE JUST FINE AND ENJOYING LIFE

    If you have put on to much weight now try and reduce it so that once you are healthy again you can enjoy everthing in life without harming yourself.

    LIFE IS NOT WHAT IT IS, IT IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT.

    • Yes, those are good suggestions, and more people should apply what you said. Although, I have just one question:

      How can a child, RESPECT LIFE, EAT IN PROPORTION, EXERCISE, and understand that LIFE IS NOT WHAT IT IS, IT IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT, if he/she has not been properly shown by his parents? Many children don’t know the slightest bit about fitness and nutrition, and are doomed from the start. For many of them it seems to big of a mountain to climb, once they are able to make decisions for themselves.

      That is why I believe culture plays a major rule in this issue. More and more children don’t stand a chance with all the pressure and temptation from the food industry and media. It’s not so black and white as you say!

      Nonetheless, I really appreciate the time you took to voice your opinion. Lets hope more start living a healthier and happy life. Cheers

  105. [...] Defining culture: “The customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group.” Also defined as “The attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a particular social group.” As the years pass, the more I adopt healthy habits and the less I blend in with the norm. No more late night runs for a Crispy Chicken at Mickey D’s, no ice cap and apple fritter or chocolate glazed donut at Tim Horton’s, no PC’s … Read More [...]

    • BIG thx for the link! I’m glad you liked my post.

  106. I’m American, but I live in England and the obesity/overweight numbers shock me because it is SO much easier and CHEAPER to eat healthy, wholesome foods over here. Fresh vegetables are so cheap here compared to the United States, so the English truly have no excuse.

    In the US it’s in many cases cheaper to have a meal at Taco Bell, or buy frozen, processed food at the supermarket and the trends do not surprise me at all. I do have to admit, though, that when I went back to Ohio after being gone for only a year I was shocked by how fat people were. It was astonishing.

    • You bring up a valid point… you would expect more from England. People in the US have somewhat of an excuse, as the system in so corrupt.

      I can relate… when I cross the boarder from Canada into the US to shop, I can’t help but notice the difference. When we hit a grocery store or Wal-Mart the phrase we use is, “They sure grow them big down here!”

      I can’t believe you live in England! Our first trip abroad was to London… ahhhh very special place indeed. Thank you for your observations.

  107. thats not about the culture, but about the person :D

    • … in the end, yes I would have to agree. No one is forcing the food down our throats.

  108. I really enjoyed your post. It’s definitely the culture. Think of all the African countries where the standard of beauty is based upon how much one weighs- more than the other. In the west it is the extreme. I am originally from Pakistan, living in Melbourne and within my country the difference is apparent. Go towards up North and you will see voluptous film heriones, they won’t accept anything else. Where in Karachi, people are usually slimmer. I am happy to be from Karachi. :)

    • Your observations are really appreciated; it only helps when we learn more about other cultures. Between the obesity epidemic and the pressure to be thin from the media, how is a country able to find balance?

      Thank you for your input

  109. And what about Georgia?

    • Hmmm are they too overweight or too skinny to show on the chart?? ;)

  110. It’s interesting how Slovakia is number 4 indeed!
    Great post by the way :)

    • Yeah, these stats were enlightening in a few different ways.

  111. I like your post, it points out facts about where we are headed now.

    I live in Norway and we recently had a debate in the media about overweight people, where one fitness instructor wrote in her blog “being fat isn’t something you HAVE, it’s something you ARE”. She was concerned with our new way of thinking we need to treat ourselves to something everyday (candy, sugar, fast food, soft drinks etc.), and being more lazy. We also have statistics showing that we are moving ALOT less than just few years ago – but our kcal intake is just the same. To me it is pretty logical that people’s weight increase when the intake is bigger than the energy spent.

    Ofc there were drama after this, because people doesn’t like their excuses (I have bad genes/I don’t have time to exercise/It’s too expencive to exercise/healthy food is too expencive/I have tried EVERYTHING..and so on) stolen from them.

    I think it’s a shame that food loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, fat and so is in many cases so much cheaper and easy to access than healthy food. Yes, there are cheap options on the healthy side too, but the standard consumer doesn’t have that knowledge and why would they “waste” time looking for options and learning new stuff when the quick and cheap option is right there in front of them?

    Even in Norway, where not alot of people are overweight (yet!!), I can see things changing. And the most scary part to me is all the overweight children. They have no one else to blame than their parents, letting them have whatever they feel like whenever they feel like. Kudos to the mother further up in these comments, telling about their healthy dinners and habits! Because it’s for some sad reason not the NORMAL thing anymore.

    I feel I could have written down a whole book with my thoughts on this subject, but I’m at work atm so I will leave it here.

    • Wow, when you leave a comment, you really leave a comment! Just by seeing this reply I can tell that you think about these issues often. I really want to thank you for taking the time to share your personal opinion, giving us all insight as to what it is like in Norway. Do not underestimate your support! You have covered the issues well and I can’t think of anything to add.

      I just hope you got this comment sent off in time before your boss seen you surfing blogs! ;) I will make an effort to repay the favor… all the best!

  112. Nice article backed up with sobering stats.

    • Yeah sobering to say the least! ;)

  113. Hey, it’s funny for me (as an European) to read something like this.

    It’s funny coz in Europe everyone is complaining about our eating habits and say that we eat way too much fat food. The press is constantly publishing articles about how the young generation is overweight and kids as young as 4 (I’m serious, check out the daily mail) have received warnings about their weight.

    What I find interesting is that it seems to be relative, that issue. If a country is full of overweight ppl, the less overweight seem to be skinny. But who sets those norms?

    • Sadly, obesity is creeping into Asia as well.

      In Vietnam, where the norm is super-thin, there are more and more fat kids. I call them sumo-babies. A fat stomach on a man is considered a sign of wealth.

      It’s happening as more and more fried food outlets appear across the country.

      • Yes, it’s coming the western culture it spreading… RUN while you still have a chance! ;)

        BTW cool blog… a great way for us to look into your culture.

    • Interesting perspective from Europe! I would have to say the “norm” should be a body fat percentage (or weight) that does not put you at risk of any overweight related diseases. Thank you for telling us about what your media reports on.

  114. [...] If you have a few extra minutes today, I encourage you to read this post and think about the way you eat: http://bodyhobby.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/is-your-culture-killing-you/ [...]

    • Wow thanks for featuring my blog post and for all the kind words! All the best

  115. So true.

    • THX ;)

  116. Well. Looks like the points I was going to make are already covered, namely:

    1. We don’t all have access to fresh things – this is not just a personal choice problem, but an access problem and an infrastructure/industry problem.

    2. It’s gotta be processed foods. And quantity. And quality. And encouraging pedestrian communities and getting outside.

    3. I lived in Jamaica for four months in a small fishing village. It was literal culture shock to be back in the Montego Bay airport – everyone was fat and white. I am currently traveling in Europe – this is a dead horse.

    One thing I didn’t see was the idea that maybe we’ve lost a connection to food as celebration – as opposed to food as enemy. I was recently talking with an Italian who was saddened to think that Americans don’t look at cooking as a communal, family event – usually a celebration. We don’t see food as something to engage us together in, to enjoy the process of creation that is cooking – and use all of our senses to enjoy the end result.

    But – we should also remember, many of us don’t have the time/money/energy to do this. The issue for the poor I can understand – and the answer there is a long way off. But, for the rest of us, I have to wonder… why not? Is America (/Canada/UK/whatever) that much more productive than the rest of the world to warrant this loss of free time and ability to cook with our families and friends?

    • Very true. Most of us have just completely lost our positive connection to food.

      • You are both right.

    • Thanks again nikki,

      You round the comments and this issue out so well. I am totally on board with this statement, thank you so much for yet another well thought out response.

      We have absolutely “lost our connection to food”. That’s what occurred to me when seeing first hand the passion Italians have for food, it made me look at food differently. That is why each and everyday I treat myself with an amazing cappuccino, I take my time and savour the moment (small detail but it’s rewarding). Food is such a wonder gift and not the enemy. How much more special it is when shared with family and friends, but families these days just don’t eat together as often.

      This was a good question… “Is America/Canada/UK that much more productive than the rest of the world to warrant this loss of free time and ability to cook with our families and friends?”

      There is many contributing factors… this is a loaded question. Off the top of my head I would have to say media plays a huge part here. People either want to be famous or want lots of money! Even if you live a very simple life, technology has taken over… TV, PC, Cell Phones etc… Which takes valuable time, time that could be spent with our friends and family. There could be a correlation between technology and obesity… people wanting more and more THINGS, and not taking the time to do something rewarding and healthy.

      Peace out sister.

  117. I completely agreed. I lived in Italy for half a year and traveled across Europe afterwards. I ate healthy as well as tasty food the entire time I was on the old continent. No McD’s or sundaes or french fries. I was actually in withdrawal when I returned home. I have also changed my eating habits since, although it’s still difficult to stay away from all the junk food that surrounds us. But that’s when the importance of exercise kicks in. I keep a balance by trying to eat healthy as much as possible, without stopping myself from eating whatever I crave by exercising. Great post! http://www.offtrackbackpacking.com

    • Congratulations on all the positive changes you have made. It’s not easy, but keep up the good work. You no doubt will reap many benefits yourself, but also at some point be in a position to help or inspire someone else. It’s such a continual battle that you must keep filling your head with encouraging information (like my blog hehe), because we are so overwhelmed by the media telling us to do the opposite. All the best!

  118. [...] and btw, read this article on food, obesity and culture that I found on Freshly Pressed. We probably all know it, but it’s more food for [...]

    • Thanks for linking!

  119. Great post! It is so true – the culture of society is killing us. Later in life i developed an allergy to a preservative that is prevalent in fast food, certain canned veggies, and corn syrups. Of course it is in different percentages in every variation of those products. I’ve been amazed that the government does not require preservatives to be listed on the ingredient list unless they are over a certain percentage. As a result I’ve switched to mainly fresh foods and the change has been amazing! That need to eat more and more seems to have disappeared. When I do slip and have a pop I can actually feel a difference as my body digests it… its crazy. Thanks for this great post and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • Thx for the congrats!

      I guess in a way your allergies were a blessing in disguise. ;)

      Your comment made me think of this information on produce pesticides from Dr. OZ. Just look at the number of different pesticides on fruit:

      Peaches = 62
      Strawberries = 59
      Spinach = 48
      Apples = 42

      Read the full article: PRODUCE AND PESTICIDES: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

      I totally agree… once you’ve had a taste of a healthy life, there is no way you can go back. Cheers

  120. While in Europe last year I too noticed a lack of fat people. At times, I was scanning a crowd, looking for someone to take a quick picture for me. My criteria quickly became: 1) overweight and 2) no fashion sense (but that’s a topic for later). This usually gave me a fellow English speaking American tourist.

    That trip was a wakeup call for me as well. Since then there’s been a lack of soda and an abundance of fresh veggies. I was raised on chicken McNuggets, now a trip to McD’s nearly makes me sick. As it should be. Great article.

    • Great to hear the changes you have made. You won’t find me at Mickey D’s these days either. Ever since I watched Food Inc., I can’t help but think of those poor chickens being fed so many hormones that they grow too quickly for their own legs. They get too heavy and can’t walk, quickly run out of breath, stand side by side in their own faeces, and are in the dark all day. I just can’t support a company that lets that kind of mistreatment of animals happen. Having said that though, OH how I miss their FRIES! I will survive.

      Thank you for commenting and happy travels.

  121. And the diabetes stats pretty much follow the curve in overweight adults.

    • Yeah, that makes sense.

  122. i do like the idea of using small plates to control your food intake. thanks a lot! :P

    • Yes, its simple but can be a great aid in consuming less calories with each meal.

  123. Fantastic post! This is advice we really need in our fast-food world! I’ve recently been experimenting a lot with food and different historical diets just for fun and have actually just started a new wartime diet experiment, based on eating smaller portions of healthier food the way they would have done during WWII, when fresh, seasonal vegetables would have been the only readily available source of food. Here’s hoping it helps me cut my addiction to ‘big food’.

    • Hmmm interesting eating plan. I like the idea of trying new things; you never know what you might enjoy. Some people are terrified by change even when they know they have to do things differently. I have far better results when I follow a plan, gives me something to work at and I am more conscience of what goes in my body.

      All the best… I hope you find something that gives you the results you are looking for. Cheers

  124. I live in the UK- and the difference between people here and in Southern Europe is huge- on eating habits as well as obesity… as in people in UK are much fatter- then again- we have the same type of fast food culture as Americans do… I quote Joan Collins who once said she would never drink diet coke- as she has only ever seen fat people drink it… lol… it is all the additives and salt and all the other junk they put it ready meals and fast food that makes you fat (and indeed unhealthy).

    • This is great, I’m getting many different perspectives from around the world. This is such a great platform for people to connect, and voice their opinions on important issues. Thank you for your observations from the UK; this epidemic is growing. There are too many processed foods, with ingredients we know little about. It’s all just a big conspiracy… one of my posts talks about this issue.

      Conspiracy Theory

      Cheers

  125. Great post!
    I too have started eating healthier over the past few years.
    As someone who was raised by her Dad on Hamburger Helper, and therefor never learned how to cook, I’m finding it difficult to feed my family, but we’re getting there!

    I totally relate to feeling wasteful when not finishing food, and being trained by the media to believe that dairy is good for you and every meal should contain meat.

    I’m reading The China Study, given to me by my friend Natala at http://veganhope.com/
    She has an amazing story, went from obese with Type II diabetes to totally vegan and shrinking/getting healthier.

    I liked the commenter’s idea of using small plates :)
    Take care,
    Eileen

    • Looks like you’re headed in the right direction and should have no problems.

      Thank you for the link to Vegan Hope, very nice highly quality blog… I will spend some time there soon. May you and your friend have a happy and healthy life.

  126. I completely agree that the American and, to an extent, British “all you can eat” culture of eating as much as possible is one of the most negative parts of our cultures, and there is much that we can learn from continental Europe in this regard. And “eat[ing] to please the soul” is definitely what we are not doing enough of.

    However, I don’t think that “no ice cap and apple fritter” is really the way to go either. In fact I think that another aspect of our culture that we really could do without is the fact that we’re so obsessed with dieting as a means of losing weight. And this is another thing that springs from our “bigger is better” culture – the idea that we need to use drastic, quick, fast measures to suddenly get us back into shape, which is the assumption of most diets.

    But diets don’t work; it’s very difficult to find a diet with a success rate of more than about a third. And the reason why they don’t work is, firstly, because our brains are wired to resist rapid change, and secondly, when you forbid yourself from eating food that you like, you instantly make the food even more attractive. That’s the way the mind works.

    Eating food needs neither to be about stuffing yourself nor about depriving yourself of the food you enjoy; it needs to be about eating for pleasure, and eating no more than what is needed to sustain your appetite. And those two things go pretty much hand in hand, because you can’t fully enjoy food if you’re not hungry.

    • I completely understand where you are coming from! The ugly side of extreme dieting is just as disturbing as obesity. The motive behind this post was to help people realize that we need to look at food differently. Not as the enemy but as something that can bring joy and satisfaction, and keep you healthy at the same time. It’s obvious that most diets are not working, in countries where obesity is rampant.

      However, this is where suggestions as; don’t stuff yourself, don’t deprive yourself, enjoy your food and eat for pleasure, fall drastically short in helping extremely overweight people. Many foods today do not warrant even to be labeled as food. If someone is eating “twinkies” all day, how would telling them “just don’t stuff yourself”, be of any help to them. Many people who rarely eat “normal” food must realize that much of the junk they are eating is just unfit for leading a healthy life. It’s not just about finding pleasure in food, because you ask any obese person and they will say they really enjoy eating.

      If someone eats mostly junk, they need to give at least some of it up. In my personal experience, the only way I could stop eating junk was to completely eliminate it from my diet, that was until my cravings and additions had passed. We underestimate the power junk food has on people; its been noted that it can be as addictive as hard drugs. Think of a smoker trying to quit his addictive habit, some slowly smoke less and less until they no longer have a need for it, others however stop abruptly to cut it out completely. An alcoholic cuts alcohol out and can’t take the chance of have just one drink or he might relapse. This might seem really extreme to you, but this is how addicted many people are to foods that are slowly killing them. A relaxed approach to eating healthy might not work for everyone.

      I really want to thank you for taking the time to state your opinion. There is much truth in what you have said, but I did feel the need to highlight some aspects of food addictions. Thx for reading

  127. This is a great post! I’m from South Africa and we’re slowly becoming one of the fattest countries in the world and it’s terrible to see unhealthy obese CHILDREN walking around. It’s like they come in groups or families. I’m lucky to be skinny and have a high metabolism but I still like to watch what I eat. Especially salt because of high blood pressure in my family and cholesterol, just because. You CAN have high cholesterol and look thin or healthy.

    I also just watched the documentary Super Size Me. Very interesting and it has sort of made me more aware of what I eat and how much when I do eat out. I guess it’s all about moderation… cos I can’t cut out fast food completely. I can’t, lol.

    • Awesome, another reader from South Africa! You’re not the only one that notices the changes…

      So you are the type that everyone wishes they were like, eating what you want and getting away with it! ;) Completely true… just because you look skinny, does not mean you are healthy on the inside. That can be a difficult struggle to eat better as there is no visual signs telling you that you should.

      If I could suggest another documentary on food, it’s called Food Inc. I’ll warn you is disturbing, but it will give you insight into how corrupt the food industry is.

      You’re right about moderation. All the best in leading a healthy life…

  128. So true what you wrote:

    “As the years pass, the more I adopt healthy habits and the less I blend in with the norm.”

    Cutting back to 2 alcoholic drinks on the weekend has changed my social life somewhat. I avoid certain types of gatherings and the hosts avoid me!

    But I feel much better and never lose a weekend to a hangover headache.

    • You will thank yourself down the road, it’s a small sacrifice when you think about the bigger picture. I always feel sorry for people who absolutely need to drink in order to have a good time. There are many rewarding forms of entertainment, which can actually “build up”. Plus, I’m sure the extra $ in the pocket can’t hurt! Here’s to balanced drinking.

  129. Great stuff!

    • Thx. All the best with your blog.

  130. Thanks for the thoughts. I wholeheartedly agree with your assertions, and the subject of nutrition continues to be a personal research mission for me. I recommend reading some books by Michael Pollan on the subject of food too (Food Rules and The Omnivore’s Dilemma). Pursue good food daily folks.

    • Glad you agree! Thank you for the reference, I’m always willing to read about nutrition. I prefer to take the best suggestions from a few reputable sources and customise them to fit my lifestyle. You just never know where the next helpful suggestion might come from, one that makes it just a little easier to stay in shape. Enjoy your reading.

  131. Good post.

    I am Chinese and live in UK for past 6 years. It is total cultural shock to experience such big difference in food and cooking between west and east.

    In my opinion, here are a couple of major differences:

    1) Less vegetables, more cheese and butter in west cuisine. Cheese and butter are fat-intensive, and rarely seen in east food material list. Chinese never hear about them if he/she doesn’t go abroad. Average vegetable consumption is much less in west I guess mainly because western cooking methods don’t give abundant tastes to vegetable. It is normally served as salad or side decoration. Not like in China, where vegetable is equivalent to meat in portion, and is cooked with various seasonning and methods. Much more delicious. Beancurd is also important and healthy.

    2) Snack. This is usually ignored when comparing food culture. Snack variety is far much less in west than east, and commonly contain Chocolate, sugar, cheese, or a lot of salt. Basically 80% of snack are sweet. In contrast, Big part of Chinese/east snack are made of vegetable, nuts or dried fruit. Sweet is only a part of taste selection.

    Of course, I don’t agree with some of Chinese food tradition, like too much salt and seasonning sometimes.

    • This is a fantastic comment! I was aware of these differences but it is very nice to have you put it in detail. I know many people don’t eat enough vegetables, unless your idea of a vegetable is a potato cut into strips and then deep fried. Then yes, many many many people eat lots of vegetables here, as long as smothering your french fries with ketchup does not disqualify them as being vegetables. ;)

      Thanks again for this comparison.

  132. Here’s the thing about our culture — we want black and white answers. We can’t deal with shades of gray.

    Do I think the culture plays a role, as well as socioeconomic factors? Absolutely.

    Do I also think that it’s the responsibility of every individual to maintain their health? Absolutely. How can someone allow themselves to gain 100 pounds, for example. Don’t you see what’s happening to your body? It’s incomprehensible.

    Attacking on both fronts, systemic and educational is the best approach. Not arguing about which is more decisive.

    BTW, your text formatting is all messed up due to the graph towards the end of the post. But I guess with this many comments, it doesn’t matter.

    • Good statement! I like when you said, “Not arguing about which is more decisive”. This is very important because with complex issues such as obesity, there is no single solution. We must work together.

      I can’t see the text formatting issue you are referring to. I have tested that post on IE, Chrome and Safari and no signs of formatting issues. What browser are you using? You might also be referring to my email subscription format, I do not yet have control over the e-mail template format. So depending on the email provider you are using, unfortunately my posts can look like a mess. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, when you have a minute let me know if the problem is still visible.

      Thanks for reading

  133. Exactly my thought….well written. Everytime I go to eat in restaurants I cannot help but comment to my husband about the portion size. Even the kids meals. Sugar, sugar and more sugar. Too much fat in the food. Bigger is not always better. We would not be spending so much on health care – mostly because of obesity and the diseases that come out if it, if and only if there was someway to take care of the situation at the very root- control and monitor the overall food industry. I would support with all my heart if the government comes up with portion sizes appropriate and right for all age groups that the restaurants should abide by. But who cares here…the billion dollar weightloss market and food industry go hand in hand. Without the one the other would not be rich. This should be a national awareness

    • You obviously are well aware of the bigger picture. Thank you for summarizing a few key factors of this obesity epidemic. Government won’t be putting its foot down anytime soon; restaurants and the food industry are not going to roll over and die just because we say it’s unethical, because they have invested far too much to get to where we are today. The only solution to put a nail in this massive coffin would be some radical change of heart on the part of the masses. How long would restaurants serve huge portions of junk if everyone suddenly stopped buying them? You can be certain it wouldn’t take long for the whole food industry to frantically start looking for new healthier ways to gain customers back. Businesses go where the money is… if we keep buying they keep selling! Unfortunately, a mass turnaround in eating habits is also not on the horizon. Until then, we will keep doing our thing. Cheers

  134. Hi.. Really enjoyed your post. I find that there’s also a strong psychological factor associated with our mentality towards eating and “emotional eating”. I noticed that the south asian countries had the lowest obesity factor, yet I’ve seen first hand that when immigrants live in north america for a number of years, they slowly fall into the social mind and body traps that eventually result in weight gain and obesity. From a medical and psychiatric perspective the most common reason for this weight gain amongst immigrants is stress. I wonder if the stress factors in Europe are less than they are here, or if people are just better adjusted to dealing with it.

    Please feel free to offer your insight on some of my posts as well. I really enjoy your writing style :)

    http://drumardar.wordpress.com

    Dr. Dar

    • I can’t speak for all Europe but I know the average work week in France is shorter, and they also start with 5 weeks paid vacation. I can’t help but notice the over all mentality is to slow down and enjoy life, instead of working yourself to death for things you don’t need. Many take long afternoon brakes, sip their latte and people watch.

      I will take a look at your blog, thx.

  135. I think maybe share some foods with Indian. In this way, american weight loss,and Indian or African could fill in food.

    • I know… you think it would be that easy, but unfortunately, greed and politics get in the way. :(

  136. Great post! Although my eating habits can be better, it’s certainly an improvement over my younger years. Thus, it was no surprise to find according to the graphs that American are the most unhealthiest of all countries. Congrats on Freshly Pressed! LB

    • Freshly Pressed was fun while it lasted… a day and a half and its over. I can’t complain… I still feel very grateful. I wish you the best in all your endeavours.

  137. As long as food industry lobbyists influence government policy and advertisers continue to peddle cheap and empty calories North America will remain obese. The overwhelming message today is that junk food is fun.

  138. essentially, this is a great post

    • Delighted you liked it.

  139. [...] Defining culture: “The customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group.” Also defined as “The attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a particular social group.” As the years pass, the more I adopt healthy habits and the less I blend in with the norm. No more late night runs for a Crispy Chicken at Mickey D’s, no ice cap and apple fritter or chocolate glazed donut at Tim Horton’s, no PC’s … Read More [...]

    • Thank you so much for featuring my post on your blog.

  140. You definitely feel the change in portion sizes when you’ve been living in Asian countries. When I go back to Western countries and eat out I always wonder at how I ever managed to eat the whole portion when I can barely eat half now. It’s pretty crazy! Even super-sized fast food portions in Asia only equal to Medium sizes (if that) in Western countries! Not saying there aren’t obese people in Asia (I myself am not the ideal fit) but there’s definitely a big difference.

    I think it definitely has something to do with control too. It’s always nice to eat junk food (it’s terribly satisfying!) but as you said, it’s a matter of not overdoing it and that’s the problem. Even then, you can always learn to compensate by walking and biking more instead of parking your butt in a car to get every where. As a college student, I found that it definitely makes a huge difference!

    Definitely a great post!

    • Wow, interesting to know that even the fast food portion sizes differ greatly. Thank you for providing that personal observation.

      You’re right, many could benefit if they had more self control and found more ways to get active. Real suggestions from real people… I like that! Ciao

  141. I’m a english Bloke that went on holiday to the USA a few weeks back.

    Don’t get me wrong I did love it there but when me and my family went out to eat it took us ages to find a family restaurant that wasn’t a fast food restaurant.

    And even when we did find one its portions were huge, I could only ever finish about 1/3 of it

    In the end I had to order from the kids menu every night, much to the amusement of all the other large families.

    I think next time we go on holiday we will stay in europe

    • That’s crazy… and I know for a fact you’re not exaggerating. Far too many times when I cross the boarder into the states, I have this look of amazement when the waitress slides the plate in front of me. The old me would roll up the sleeves and get down to business, loosen the belt and have a few brakes to let the food settle. Don’t ask me where it all went but I somehow managed to finished, but I was usually not a happy camper shortly after. There is no question now, I wouldn’t even try. I’m still a sucker for burgers, but now I would substitute the fries for a salad. I know there is no way I could finish a mountain of fries along with a burger the size of my head. Who says obese people are lazy? It’s a lot of work stuffing yourself with that much food, why else would you brake out in a sweat! ;) Just think, many wash those gigantic meals down with a milk shake that has over 1000 calories or a 32 oz soft drink. Yikes

      I don’t blame you for having your next trip in Europe. Until then, have a pint of bitter for me will ya! Cheers

  142. I really enjoyed your post. I have always tried to live a healthy life style and it’s amazing to me how food has become super-sized and a part of the American culture. A lot of the restaurants you have pictured have been around for so long and we can see it’s impact on the lives of people.

    • You’re right… now that these fast food chains are so ingrained in peoples lives, I think the worst is yet to come. BIGGER people… BIGGER problems.

  143. [...] brixton´s Hall | FUN {November 7, 2010}   Is your culture killing you? (via My Body Is My Hobby) Defining culture: “The customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group.” Also defined as “The attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a particular social group.” As the years pass, the more I adopt healthy habits and the less I blend in with the norm. No more late night runs for a Crispy Chicken at Mickey D’s, no ice cap and apple fritter or chocolate glazed donut at Tim Horton’s, no PC’s … Read More [...]

    • Thanks for linking to me! ;)

  144. [...] Defining culture: “The customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group.” Also defined as “The attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a particular social group.” As the years pass, the more I adopt healthy habits and the less I blend in with the norm. No more late night runs for a Crispy Chicken at Mickey D’s, no ice cap and apple fritter or chocolate glazed donut at Tim Horton’s, no PC’s … Read More [...]

    • Thank you for taking the time to promote my blog post.

  145. Excellent blog & so true!
    A sad fact is that the “bad” choices are being delat down to kids by parents…. Mickey D’s make 40% of their profit off kids meals. Good parenting much?

    • Sad situation indeed. Many parents ignore how important the first few years are for children, and how that impacts their child for years to come. My heart goes out to ones that have to relearn proper eating habits and battle their addictions, sometimes for the rest of their life. Everyone has the right to exercise their own free will, but when that interferes with the “proper” development of their children, that is just wrong! Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. Ciao

      p.s. If you haven’t heard already… San Francisco put a ban on Happy Meals!

      http://butterbeanskitchen.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/the-ban-of-the-happy-meal/

  146. Just wanted to say that i completely agree. I was raised by Quebecois parents, so a pretty main staple of my diet growing up consisted of poutine. I still love the stuff, but i also now recognize that its not something that should be had often. Like many in a similar situations, i do now struggle with my weight, but i find posts like yours help me see the bright side of things, and realize that there is a “norm” other then the one created by the West centric North America. So, Thanks :D
    -Ginger

    • Hello Ginger,

      Thank you so much for relating your experience, it makes me feel so good to hear such positive feedback. I might not have all the credentials as some do, but I have the personal experience of being both unhealthy and now healthy. I do know what it’s like to be overweight, and I have the understanding of what people go through. Habits are the hardest things to change, and the solutions vary depending on the individual. One thing is for sure… it’s possible, at times it’s not easy, but it’s possible. I’m so glad you enjoyed the read. Cheers

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