America The Fat

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s a serious problem in this country. I’m not sitting here trying to lecture people about the “obesity” epidemic, or spit out some figures and statistics at anyone. I’m talking about what I see in the world around me each day. What am I talking about?

img from medicaldaily.com

We, as a nation, are fat. And for the most part, it doesn’t really seem to bother us. Not as long as the line at McD’s isn’t too long.

The problem is – we want what we want when we want it. When do we want it? Now. What do we want? What we like. Don’t worry,  we know what we like…

Everything we’re told to like.

Sugary, salty, fatty, sweet and designed to taste so good we just. want. more. What foods do you see advertised on TV? What delicious delicacies are you told are so good, so irresistible, you simply HAVE to go out and get it right now? Everything bad for you. Fast food burgers and fries, ding dings and hoo hoos, little snack cakes, drive-in hot dogs and potato puffs you don’t even have to get out of your car for brought to you by people who can roll to you (because why should they be bothered to walk if you aren’t?) and cheese poofs that look bold and daring because the cheetah eating them is a jerk. All these awful foods are glorified and celebrated as something we are privileged to be able to have. But that’s just ONE part of the problem…

IN MODERATION, and I mean, like, as a once-in-a-while treat…I suppose it could be possible that your health and energy level wouldn’t suffer too much from all this stuff. Problem is we don’t seem to understand the concept of moderation. I find that many people just aren’t taught limits. Our bodies will tell us  when we’re full, when we are satisfied…when we are sufficiently nourished.  When I was little, I was told to finish my plate before I was allowed to have dessert. “Eat your food, there’s starving kids in Othercountria”. That’s great, stick it in a box and mail it to them…little-kid-me is full! And that is the instant we are taught to ignore anything resembling a signal from our body. We also don’t eat slowly…we just inhale this stuff. People eat all this awful “food” so fast that it doesn’t even register with their body that it’s in there, so we miss the signals our body is still trying to send us. 

And this is a behavior that we celebrate!

How many food-eating contests do you see? Food “challenges”? That famous American hot dog eating contest on July 4th? Where like 10 people line up on a nationally televised stage and try to shove 50+ hot dogs down their food-hole in the fastest manner possible? Seriously? It’s disgusting to watch!  I used to LOVE “Man vs. Food”…I thought it was awesome. Then over time I noticed the guy on the show seemed to be getting kind of fat. Like visibly, noticeably fat. Pretty soon after that there was a new show called “Man vs. Food Nation” where he wasn’t the one eating, it was other people! Imagine that.

Speaking of portion size – I was talking with a co-worker the other day and I mentioned that I really liked the bbq chicken pizza at such-and-such restaurant – it was REALLY good and very well-done. They replied “Oh, I don’t like such-and-such restaurant…their portions are so small!”. Really? Their portions are actually a pretty good size…it’s just not the overflowing platter of nom that we’re taught to expect. What a shame that’s the expectation…the food at such-and-such is actually really good and not the typical get-fat-and-blow-up fare you get at most big chains. 
And y’know what makes this awful food and lack of moderation even worse

It’s all so cheap you can feed the wife and kids too!

Ten dollars feeds the WHOLE family from the dollar menu! Got a powerful appetite all on your own? Get a big box of heart-stopping tasty for just $5! Want to make sure you REALLY fill up? There are plenty of buffets to choose from, some as cheap as 4.99 for endless everything!

Appetite Stimulus Plan? Are you kidding me?

This has got to be one of the top reasons, as far as I’m concerned, that we as a nation are so fat – it’s so damn cheap! I know as a recent college grad I have been broke since I was “on my own” in college. What happened when I got hungry? I’d find something cheap! But boy was I HUNGRY! Well, I was taught to make sure I got my fill…Easy beans! 4 bucks at Taco Bell and I was stuffed for the night. Then again, that 4 bucks’ worth of food was probably more fat and calories than I should’ve taken in for the whole day.

Another problem with all this cheap food we stuff ourselves with is…it’s cheap! Not just price-wise, but quality-wise too. Next time you go grocery shopping look at the ground beef. Notice that the higher the fat content (and lower the quality) the less expensive it is. The health food section, “natural” section…whatever they call it… is often much more expensive than the rest of the store – prohibitively expensive for many people.  The average American can do a pretty good job eating relatively healthy, but the average American is also pretty decent at stretching a buck – so the cheap stuff makes it into the cart.

But if you’re feeding the family with this…that means the kids are eating it too.

img from the-menace-of-obesity.com

This is one of my biggest problems with this WHOLE thing…we’re teaching our kids that not only is eating to excess ok, but its the norm. Some of you may know, I work in a pretty big restaurant chain (over 100 locations)…and I’m in a tourist town, so LOTS of people come in. I can’t tell you how many round children I see walk in the door. ROUND! I can’t understand how, as a parent, some people can allow their child to eat so much that they become so fat they’re round. Kids can’t get their hands on that amount of food on their own, it’s being provided to them. I don’t even know what else to say…it’s just irresponsible to feed your kids that kind of food that often and that much that they blow up. And this isn’t a nutrition thing…but most of these kids aren’t encouraged to go out and play all that much…many of these kids are the same ones who sit at one of my tables with their eyes glued to and hands surgically attached to a GameBoy or smartphone playing games. Not the best way to burn off the 3000 calories your kid ate today.

No. You’re not. You’re bored. Put down the burrito!

I guess where I’m going with all this is – we need to SERIOUSLY re-examine how we as a nation behave when it comes to food. Fast food, snack food and deep-fat are so ingrained in our culture that it’d take a pretty big paradigm shift to get truly healthy. This whole problem, coupled with the “I don’t feel like it syndrome” is why we’re in such a bad situation right now. However, if we take baby steps, follow good nutrition guidelines like I’ve talked about before, and embrace healthy-eating movements we can start going in the right direction.  

I implore you – start at home, with yourself and your kids. Be conscious of the foods you’re putting in your mouth and putting on a plate for your kids. Make sure not too much of your food is coming from a greasy bag or box handed to you through your car window. Listen to your body – it will tell you when you’re done. We eat for nourishment and to enjoy the taste, not because we’re bored.  Teach your kids healthy habits and the right foods to eat. They’re learning from YOU – so make sure you’re careful about what you’re showing them.

We, as a nation, don’t have to be fat. But it starts at home. With you.

4 thoughts on “America The Fat

  1. I think there is a second part of this. And I hate to say it: the anti-fat-shaming movement.

    Well it isn't even fat shaming most of the time. That's the best part! A lot of the time, I've seen people get angry because they either have to pay extra for an airline ticket because they don't fit into the seat and that in itself "shames" them. Why should a business such as an airline have to cater to the fact that you are fat in the first place? If they install larger seats, they can hold less passengers, reducing their profit. If you have seats for fat people and no fat people on your plane, then you have wasted space that could be generating a profit.

    I've heard stories of overweight/obese people at gyms getting annoyed at skinny/fit people, thinking that the skinny/fit people are trying to make them feel bad for sucking at exercising, when in reality, that rarely happens.

    I've known some very obese people and it always seems the same to me. Some completely HATE people who are thin or fit. They think any sort of advice is criticism. And the worst part is, you can tell them that they want to look better and lose weight, but everyone around them tells them "you are beautiful as you are" or "a guy/girl would be lucky to have someone as pretty as you. if they don't like you, they are dicks". Funny thing there. I thought that attraction has to exist. People have preferences. Some guys DO like fat girls. Some guys like anorexic girls. Heck some guys want a girl who is just average. You can't force someone to like your body, and when they don't, call them out on it.

    But that's what our culture has become. We're being taught to accept the fact that we as a country are fat. We are being taught that it is ok to be fat and overweight. There are even people who won't deal with a doctor who tells them losing weight is good for them. There are specific "fat-friendly" doctors now. That's just wrong!

  2. The other side of your point, is to encourage fat people who make an effort. Any time a fat person tells me they're trying, running here and there, avoiding butter and salt, drinking water instead of soda, etc., I encourage them. I point out that they are doing better than 90% of the problem. And it only takes a few weeks to notice a difference, a few days to FEEL the difference. That first step must be welcomed and embraced.

  3. This is as much a legislative and economic problem as it is a cultural one. This country subsidizes meat and dairy for no reason whatsoever. The result is meat and cheese are very cheap. Indeed, your taxes help keep the McDouble at $1. Meanwhile apples are still a dollar apiece, and most people are simply priced out of buying raw vegetables and fruits for their families to eat.

  4. While I agree, I agree to a point – the cheap meat out there is the fatty, low-quality meat. Try to find 93% lean ground beef cheap. You can't do it (and if you can please tell me where to find it!).

    But yes, on the whole, the cheap crap is what is readily available and made inexpensive. It's a problem – in medieval times being overweight was a sign of wealth, nobility or royalty…because you HAD to be one of those in order to be able to afford to get that fat. Today, it's almost the opposite – getting that big is the cheap common-man blue-collar way, while people making decent money are buying grass-fed free-range organic meats and organic quinoa / brown rice health-blend this-and-that. It's very difficult for someone like me to be able to afford to eat that kind of foods in the volume necessary for someone trying to do the "fitness" thing. I make it work…but its very tough.

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