Our culture is set up for obesity.

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  • rml_16
    rml_16 Posts: 16,414 Member
    people rave about restaurants, because the portions are "MASSIVE".
    This is how I feel when people start talking about the food on cruises.
    I was so looknig forward to the "amazing, wonderful, tasty" food when I went on a cruise years ago. Of course, food was readily available 24/7, but it was pretty low-quality, I thought. Even the dinners weren't very good.

    I had no trouble not eating too much because of that.
  • FerretBuellerr
    FerretBuellerr Posts: 468 Member
    I think the issue comes down to this:

    Majority of people living in North America have absolutely no concept of what good nutrition is. They just know that they need food to function. When you have no concept of how many calories a day you should intake with your activity level, and what types of food give you more nutrients over others, then overeating is easy. It's also a matter of demand - if there wasn't a demand by people to have unnecessarily large portions for less money, then these portion sizes in restaurants of all kinds wouldn't exist.

    It always blows my mind when I go to get a burger at a fast food place, and I order the smallest one there, on it's own, but then want to share a "large" drink with my boyfriend - and the "large" drink is always twice the size that I think it's going to be (other than at a few select places). And to think that many people go in and order a full burger with fries and a large drink that they fill with pop, then refill it again before they leave. :noway: I can't believe I used to do that, and the thought of it kind of makes me throw up in my mouth.
  • SezxyStef
    SezxyStef Posts: 15,268 Member
    Obeisty being cultural...interesting.

    It's like saying alcoholism is too because it's readily available everywhere....

    Clean plate police???? Please when my mother said clean your plates it was because there was no snacking...and it was turnip or something I didn't like....and we were much more active then as well and our parents knew we needed the food because when they let us away with no eating it we whined later...I'm Hungry

    It doesn't matter how big the portions are anywhere...you not the culture is the person who says no thanks I am done box this up please. It is you who chooses to walk/lift/bike (exercise) or not.

    Individuals are to blame for their weight issues....no one and nothing else...(regarless of why ie emotional eating etc)
  • whierd
    whierd Posts: 14,026 Member
    Saying that her point is valid over and over does not make it more valid.

    Are restaurant serving sizes bigger these days and/or contain more calories? Yes.
    Are people eating out more often than they used to? Yes.
    Can people make their own decisons about whether or not to eat out and what to order if they do? Yes.

    My issue with calling it a Cultural Issue is that it tends to lessen the responsibility of the individual. It is not a culture or a restaurant's responsibility to keep me fit if I am not prudent enough to be aware of what I am eating.

    How does saying something is a cultural issue lessen personal responsibility? Overcoming something cultural can be difficult, but overcoming it doesn't make it less of a cultural issue.

    Please tell me how it is difficult to overcome this particular issue.
    How is it difficult to overcome something that your parents drilled into your head over and over and over for at least 18 years? Really?

    If someone tells you every day of your life that you're ugly and worthless, you're going to believe you're ugly and worthless, even if objectively you know that isn't true. If someone tells you every day of your life that you MUST finish every bite of food on your plate, you're going to feel like you're letting them down by not doing so, even as an adult. You may recognize it's stupid and not true, but changing your habits and the soundtrack in your head isn't something you can just DO.

    Like I said, my parents didn't do that to me over food. But there were other things that my mother especially would say to me over the years that even now I fight every day to remind myself aren't true. She didn't mean to make me feel bad. I know that. I don't think she ever realized what she did. As a mother muself, I struggle every day to be very careful what I say to my daughter because of that. I may not have experienced it with food, but I do know what it's like in other ways.

    I was one of those kids who was told they had to clean their plates and that habit persists today, so I understand that point. But as an adult, I can now control what I eat and what goes on my plate.
  • Martucha123
    Martucha123 Posts: 1,093 Member

    If someone tells you every day of your life that you're ugly and worthless, you're going to believe you're ugly and worthless, even if objectively you know that isn't true. If someone tells you every day of your life that you MUST finish every bite of food on your plate, you're going to feel like you're letting them down by not doing so, even as an adult. You may recognize it's stupid and not true, but changing your habits and the soundtrack in your head isn't something you can just DO.

    so true, my partenr is 33 and I have to give him a permission so he can leave food on his plate. He knows it's silly, but he can't stop himself from feeling guilty if he leaves anything.

    I have hard time throwing away leftovers... so they sit in my fridge until they go bad, even if I know nobody will be wanting to eat them
  • jwdieter
    jwdieter Posts: 2,582 Member
    so are restaurants supposed to go out of business because nobody eats there due to non-tasty food or are they supposed to serve food that keeps their doors open...

    I'm confused here.

    Apparently they are supposed to police our well-being instead of functioning as the market dictates.

    The OP was indicating you should go picket in front of restaurants that serve meals over 1000 calories. Or, wait, no. Maybe the OP was recognizing a widespread factor that leads to obesity (large portion sizes at restaurants), and indicated several times in her post that she is personally responsible for regulating her intake.

    As an aside, it's easy to be "tasty" with 800 calories or 4000. Difference is quantity. Quite a few expensive restaurants recognize this, which creates a pretty funny (and common) scenario of a $120 meal providing fewer calories than a $15 meal. Yet another factor in why obesity tends to correlate inversely with income.
  • rml_16
    rml_16 Posts: 16,414 Member
    I was one of those kids who was told they had to clean their plates and that habit persists today, so I understand that point. But as an adult, I can now control what I eat and what goes on my plate.

    And, again, I'm not saying it's impossible. I'm saying it is difficult and a little more complicated than that. If it wasn't, then you wouldn't need to lose weight now, right?

    It's that constant battle and it makes things more difficult.

    I'm not blaming restaurants or grocery stores for carrying ice cream. I'm not even blaming parents. I'm simply talking about a psychological factor that makes getting in shape difficult for a lot of people because that clean your plate thing was pretty common and probably still is.
  • whierd
    whierd Posts: 14,026 Member
    Saying that her point is valid over and over does not make it more valid.

    Are restaurant serving sizes bigger these days and/or contain more calories? Yes.
    Are people eating out more often than they used to? Yes.
    Can people make their own decisons about whether or not to eat out and what to order if they do? Yes.

    My issue with calling it a Cultural Issue is that it tends to lessen the responsibility of the individual. It is not a culture or a restaurant's responsibility to keep me fit if I am not prudent enough to be aware of what I am eating.

    How does saying something is a cultural issue lessen personal responsibility? Overcoming something cultural can be difficult, but overcoming it doesn't make it less of a cultural issue.

    Please tell me how it is difficult to overcome this particular issue.

    There are many things that could make it hard. Habit would be a big one, but social pressure, financial guilt, and other things could be at play.

    Habit is one of the first things that needs to be broken and redefined when deciding to lose weight, no? I somewhat agree on the social pressure aspect, as many people like to go out to eat when hanging out. But again, this is something that can be overcome.

    What I do not understand is the financial guilt. Explain what you mean, pretty please?
  • ShellyBell999
    ShellyBell999 Posts: 1,482 Member
    On my recent trip to New Orleans, when I asked for people's recommendations for restaurants, I would get same comment from more than one person -- people rave about restaurants, because the portions are "MASSIVE". I felt that it would be a waste of time to explain to them that "massive" is not necessarily what I am looking for in a meal.

    You don't have to eat all of it.

    You know... I have a theory on this that would be perfect for a grad-level paper if I were studying nutrition.

    Personally, I think the compulsion to eat all the food on the plate comes from the "clean-your-plate-there-are-starving-children-in-Africa" approach to parenting. Of course, this stems from the post-Depression era when food may or may not be readily available.

    ^^^This was my thought as well.
  • BeachIron
    BeachIron Posts: 6,490 Member
    You know, honestly, this is one of those "our culture" OPs that I have trouble not agreeing with to a large degree.

    If someone grows up in the U.S. and follows the clean your plate method (and let's me honest many parents teach this to their kids) and eats out regularly, they very likely will become overweight. And I will agree with the OP that I really enjoyed eating out in Japan because I could try a variety of dishes that would add up to a meal, rather than being forced to order 1 thing in a restaurant and box up over half of it. Yes, the value is there in the sense that you get the leftovers, but I hate carrying food home as I'm often hiking (we often walk several miles with our kids to go out for tacos for example), or we're traveling and the food will spoil in the car. It does indeed take some of the fun away.

    That said, it is not an excuse. We will often share 1 or 2 plates among the 4 of us, or we go to restaurants where the portion sizes are sane, such as steak houses and sushi restaurants. I'm also not afraid to order the "woman's cut" steak while I'm cutting, for example. The "big man" B.S. can suck it when it comes to food . . . okay, while I'm cutting, bulking is an entirely different thing. lol

    The point though is that there are all sorts of obstacles out there in regard to any of our goals, not just our dieting goals. Think about all those things that you'd rather be doing than going to work. But you still go to work. This is no different. Yes, it can be hard, but set your mind to it and get it done.

    I agree that looking at it from a Big Picture standpoint that the culture has shifted towards bigger servings and higher calories. I just hate that it is used as fodder for "restaurants made me fat!" type blaming or the "it is the culture we live in!" excuses.

    I totally agree. It is a seriously annoying fact of eating out in the U.S. and it's embarrassing that this is what the population as a whole seems to buy into. I avoid most of the casual dining chains for this reason, and I've always been very careful about restaurant choice when entertaining clients from overseas.

    That said, using it as an excuse? It's one of many available excuses. If that's all it is, pick one. Otherwise, yes, learn to work around it.
  • MommyLouLous
    MommyLouLous Posts: 25 Member
    My husband, daughter, and I split a chicken nugget value meal between the three of us at Chic-fil-a while we were out the other day. One of the workers said, "Oh you're sharing" like she was shocked. We didn't get stuffed, but we were satisfied enough.
  • Serah87
    Serah87 Posts: 5,481 Member
    You can say no!! We went to Red Lobster for dinner on Saturday night, the plate I got was the Wood-fire grilled shrimp, lobster and scallops, which also came with rice pilaf and 1 other side and a salad, I did not get the side nor the salad and did not dip the seafood in butter. So the meal was 500 calories and I had 2 biscuits 150 calories each, total 800 calories!!!

    Just to add for lunch we went to a sandwich cafe, had a multi-grain roasted turkey sandwich (half size), with lettuce, tomato and brown mustard, homemade potato chips and small bowl of fruit. Total 597 calories!!

    For breakfast I had a WaWa gas station, old fashion donut, approx. 250 calories!!

    Total for the day: 1647 calories

    Not many veggie servings in that day, though.

    It's only one day!!!! LOL, :tongue:
  • bcattoes
    bcattoes Posts: 17,299 Member
    Obeisty being cultural...interesting.

    It's like saying alcoholism is too because it's readily available everywhere....

    Clean plate police???? Please when my mother said clean your plates it was because there was no snacking...and it was turnip or something I didn't like....and we were much more active then as well and our parents knew we needed the food because when they let us away with no eating it we whined later...I'm Hungry

    It doesn't matter how big the portions are anywhere...you not the culture is the person who says no thanks I am done box this up please. It is you who chooses to walk/lift/bike (exercise) or not.

    Individuals are to blame for their weight issues....no one and nothing else...(regarless of why ie emotional eating etc)

    Frist sentence in the OP - "I am all for personal responsibility when it comes to weight loss."

    I'm not sure why anyone would think control negates cultural influence.
  • wisdomfromyou
    wisdomfromyou Posts: 198 Member
    I am all for personal responsibility when it comes to weight loss. But, one has to acknowledge how crazily our culture is set up in making it an upstream swim much of the time.

    A favorite topic of mine - thank you for bringing it up and yes, I WILL take the time to post even though I have none. So I will make.

    Like you, I DO understand perfectly well that I need to take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for my own weight and simply make choices within the constraints of the culture that is indeed SET UP for obesity. Or else.
    Sometimes though I feel that the culture is not just "set up" for obesity but it is "conspiratorily" set up for obesity!! I wouldn't put it past the Powers that Be.

    While I am making all the choices that I can possibly make, within the constraints of my personal situation, to fight the culture that is set up this way and to maintain a healthy weight, I really do believe that pointing at those cultural determinants and making people AWARE of them does not mean "whining, complaining, blaming others for your own shortcomings" and other "blame the victim" junk that Americans usually adore passing around.

    It simply helps people fight back - not just with personal choices but politically too - at least this is what you would hope would happen eventually.

    After reading tons of articles on obesity from Medicine, Sociology, Psychology and other cross-disciplinary fields - I could count a million ways in which the culture has become set up for obesity. Unfortunately, large portion sizes and a Mc at every corner is just the tip of the iceberg.

    - The entire culture has engineered activity out of people's lives in the name of convenience and comfort (from something as simple as remote-control TV-s and buttons-everything to going everywhere by car or HAVING TO drive everywhere given time constraints, to no sidewalks and attractive public venues where people could go for strolls like Europeans do, etc). In order to move enough in this culture, you have to carve out special time during the day and turn it into an efficient task at the gym. This demand will compete with the million other demands that the average person has in this society - so good luck keeping it up and making "MOVING" the queen of all other priorities. Having grown up elsewhere, among people who were all thin despite nobody EVER exercising formally at a gym ...this part is all too clear.

    - The Internet, Smart phones and other gadgetry is sucking spare-time out of our day like a sponge is sucking water.

    - The TV is a classic.

    - Women no longer cook, whether because they are "career women" or just SAHM-s who believe that it is more important to haul jrs. to 1 million organized activities during the day than stay at home to cut up onions. This is largely perceived as "non-sexy, backward, heck even oppressive". Never mind those who get the kids in the bus at 7:30 am so the rest of the day can be dedicated to volunteering at school, shopping, scrap-booking - anything BUT cooking appealing, nutritious and economic meals for the entire family (which by the way, takes A LOT of time usually).
    The bottom line is, career or not, American women on average, no longer cook; or they believe that slapping together some convenience foods qualifies as cooking. For the gender sensitive, if you ask why I only "blame" women for this and not men - I am not blaming anyone. I am simply pointing that half of the population that used to cook checked out of this task and it's not like the other half checked in, rightfully or wrongfully so. Cooking has been outsourced - genie is out of the bottle. It is simply the way it has worked out, gender justice or not.

    - The crap the the food industry puts in all of these convenience foods, take-outs or even restaurant food is surreal - from the tons of sugar and corn syrup to 1 million things you can't pronounce, to hormones in milk that makes girls get their periods at 9 and fibroids the size of the New Year's Eve NY apple at 40 ...and balloon like crazy by the time they are 18... ending up with a hanging-type belly that is recognizably American...you get the idea.

    - The incredibly fast-paced lives with one million demands and obligations pulling the average Joe in all directions: overload in work-demands, children's school demands, children's activities demands, housework demands, groceries shopping demands, commuting demands, technology that acts as the most insidious time-thief despite having proclaimed the very opposite - to save people time...as well as going crazy over sets of "choices", the list could go on. Some of these demands can be very small *(such as sorting through papers from school or signing papers to send back to school). But between the 1 million big demands (such as work projects), the 1 million medium demands, and the 1 million small demands...people deal with an endless "to do" list that is simply eating away at their quality of life, places them in a constant state of stress, anxiety and restlessness, reduced authentic companionship and leads, for many, to overeating as a way of coping with stress.

    - The non-social manner in which Americans tend to eat: fast, efficiently, often at their desks, often alone, often at midnight snacking on "feel good" foods to accompany some action movie, without any conversation or human interaction that help slow down the pace of eating.

    - And what to make of those families needing to work 2-3 miserable jobs just to get by in today's society? Or those who have only one job that requires increasing over-time and energy (both physical and mental) so they can compete with zealous co-workers?

    - What of genetically modified everything, chickens as big as ostriches (how in the world do they get them like that I will never understand), etc.

    The list could go on - and on - and on.

    I have met many people who react negatively when they see fat people - as if these unfortunate souls are begging to be hated given their "poor, poor, despicable personal choices".

    When I visit back in my country, I hear many people talking condescendingly about how fat Americans are.
    Having lived here for over a decade and having become, at some point, decently fat myself, I feel nothing but compassion towards fat individuals because I know how one gets there and I also know they are largely victims of a culture designed to F them up.

    Now this culture of obesity is spreading elsewhere:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGL3iT5MMdQ


    .... though I don't think it will ever have the virulent effects it has had here given some local traditions and ways of life that still linger and hopefully will for a while.

    Now back to demands.
  • jmwolffyy
    jmwolffyy Posts: 212 Member
    Wow I am shocked at how many people find this to be a topic of contention! I think all OP was trying to say is that the typical view of a "normal" plate of food has greatly increased over the years and that the mainstream society does not even realize how that affects them on a daily basis. If we see the "normal" restaurant plate of food as being the right size for a meal, we will duplicate that portion size in our meals at home, UNLESS and UNTIL something causes us to realize that this is NOT a "normal" amount of food for a regular meal. As more of us become more aware of what we should put into our bodies (and yes, I am talking about those people who separate the large meal AND the people who plan ahead to leave room for the extra calories AND the people who increase their exercise for the day to allow for the additional food), then more of us know how to handle ourselves in a restaurant. BUT society as a whole is not yet aware of how incongruent the "typical" portion size is compared to what they SHOULD be eating.
  • bcattoes
    bcattoes Posts: 17,299 Member
    Saying that her point is valid over and over does not make it more valid.

    Are restaurant serving sizes bigger these days and/or contain more calories? Yes.
    Are people eating out more often than they used to? Yes.
    Can people make their own decisons about whether or not to eat out and what to order if they do? Yes.

    My issue with calling it a Cultural Issue is that it tends to lessen the responsibility of the individual. It is not a culture or a restaurant's responsibility to keep me fit if I am not prudent enough to be aware of what I am eating.

    How does saying something is a cultural issue lessen personal responsibility? Overcoming something cultural can be difficult, but overcoming it doesn't make it less of a cultural issue.

    Please tell me how it is difficult to overcome this particular issue.

    There are many things that could make it hard. Habit would be a big one, but social pressure, financial guilt, and other things could be at play.

    Habit is one of the first things that needs to be broken and redefined when deciding to lose weight, no? I somewhat agree on the social pressure aspect, as many people like to go out to eat when hanging out. But again, this is something that can be overcome.

    What I do not understand is the financial guilt. Explain what you mean, pretty please?

    Feeling the need to eat all the food that paid for, even if you are full long before the plate is empty. Taking leftovers home is not always an option.

    ETA: can you explain how being able to overcome the cultural issue makes it not a cultural issue, pretty please?
  • whierd
    whierd Posts: 14,026 Member
    You know, honestly, this is one of those "our culture" OPs that I have trouble not agreeing with to a large degree.

    If someone grows up in the U.S. and follows the clean your plate method (and let's me honest many parents teach this to their kids) and eats out regularly, they very likely will become overweight. And I will agree with the OP that I really enjoyed eating out in Japan because I could try a variety of dishes that would add up to a meal, rather than being forced to order 1 thing in a restaurant and box up over half of it. Yes, the value is there in the sense that you get the leftovers, but I hate carrying food home as I'm often hiking (we often walk several miles with our kids to go out for tacos for example), or we're traveling and the food will spoil in the car. It does indeed take some of the fun away.

    That said, it is not an excuse. We will often share 1 or 2 plates among the 4 of us, or we go to restaurants where the portion sizes are sane, such as steak houses and sushi restaurants. I'm also not afraid to order the "woman's cut" steak while I'm cutting, for example. The "big man" B.S. can suck it when it comes to food . . . okay, while I'm cutting, bulking is an entirely different thing. lol

    The point though is that there are all sorts of obstacles out there in regard to any of our goals, not just our dieting goals. Think about all those things that you'd rather be doing than going to work. But you still go to work. This is no different. Yes, it can be hard, but set your mind to it and get it done.

    I agree that looking at it from a Big Picture standpoint that the culture has shifted towards bigger servings and higher calories. I just hate that it is used as fodder for "restaurants made me fat!" type blaming or the "it is the culture we live in!" excuses.

    I totally agree. It is a seriously annoying fact of eating out in the U.S. and it's embarrassing that this is what the population as a whole seems to buy into. I avoid most of the casual dining chains for this reason, and I've always been very careful about restaurant choice when entertaining clients from overseas.

    That said, using it as an excuse? It's one of many available excuses. If that's all it is, pick one. Otherwise, yes, learn to work around it.

    I would really love a Japan-style street food culture here, tbh. I love trying new foods and having it in small, cheap portions would rock. And something simple like grilled meat-on-a-stick would be particularly awesome because it is very difficult to get lean protein when eating fast food.
  • wisdomfromyou
    wisdomfromyou Posts: 198 Member
    It doesn't matter how big the portions are anywhere...you not the culture is the person who says no thanks I am done box this up please. It is you who chooses to walk/lift/bike (exercise) or not.
    Individuals are to blame for their weight issues....no one and nothing else...(regarless of why ie emotional eating etc)

    Why was I afraid that the parroting of this enormous bunch of BS was going to be absent in this thread?
    My fears have been calmed.
    So predictable, so hopeless.
  • whierd
    whierd Posts: 14,026 Member
    Saying that her point is valid over and over does not make it more valid.

    Are restaurant serving sizes bigger these days and/or contain more calories? Yes.
    Are people eating out more often than they used to? Yes.
    Can people make their own decisons about whether or not to eat out and what to order if they do? Yes.

    My issue with calling it a Cultural Issue is that it tends to lessen the responsibility of the individual. It is not a culture or a restaurant's responsibility to keep me fit if I am not prudent enough to be aware of what I am eating.

    How does saying something is a cultural issue lessen personal responsibility? Overcoming something cultural can be difficult, but overcoming it doesn't make it less of a cultural issue.

    Please tell me how it is difficult to overcome this particular issue.

    There are many things that could make it hard. Habit would be a big one, but social pressure, financial guilt, and other things could be at play.

    Habit is one of the first things that needs to be broken and redefined when deciding to lose weight, no? I somewhat agree on the social pressure aspect, as many people like to go out to eat when hanging out. But again, this is something that can be overcome.

    What I do not understand is the financial guilt. Explain what you mean, pretty please?

    Feeling the need to eat all the food that paid for, even if you are full long before the plate is empty. Taking leftovers home is not always an option.

    ETA: can you explain how being able to overcome the cultural issue makes it not a cultural issue, pretty please?

    Did I say that? :huh: I thought I was saying that something being a cultural issue doesnt make it a valid excuse.