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Why do American's eat more junk?


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I keep seeing in the news that America is the fattest country. Why is that? I know it must be partly fast food, fast culture and the availability of snacks. Obvious answers. And probably correct.

 

But we also have access to medical care, gyms, children's sports, PE programs, swimming pools. And other countries have access to garbage food but I would assume they choose to eat it less and therefore the lack of demand decreases the supply.

 

I guess what I am wondering is why it is that American's WANT to eat more or eat less quality, why do we buy it?. I'm sure in Italy, if one wants to eat extra buttery microwave popcorn at 12:00 a.m., one can do that. So do Americans just choose to do it more? If it's habit and training, where did those habits and trainings come from?

 

I guess I am just thinking about an economic model. There will always be new fast food franchises in America as long as fast food is in demand. And if the Japanese started demanding it on the same scale, I'm assuming the market would meet that demand (and I know to some extent that is happening). But WHY do American's create the demand for more fast food, big gulp sodas, etc on a scale that is greater than in countries that are similar to us in terms of economic prosperity, women in the workforce etc?

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I may be totally off on this, but in other countries, a part of their culture and social structure is very tied up in food. Think about foreign films you've seen (especially old ones)...they are ALWAYS eating, talking about food, or cooking, and yet they seem to be fit and thin. All of their socializing, family gatherings, holidays, etc. are about food. It is a part of who they are, and they believe in high quality, growing your own food, and spending the time to make and enjoy really good food and wine.

 

In America, a large part of our culture is based on success...run, go, make more money, do it better/faster/cheaper than anyone else. Be successful, have it all. It's not about taking the time or making the effort to achieve something truly excellent, but about how fast we can get it. America is about instant gratification, not about community, relationships, culture, and family.

 

Of course, most of us here are the exceptions to that rule, and I think the pendulum will swing once again, but we may never live to see it.

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I also think that some of the cheapest foods in America are the least healthful. For example, Maceroni and Cheese at 33 cent a box. We volunteer with our local food back and unfortunately, the vast majority of economically repressed individuals are actually overweight. They eat a lot of "empty" but cheap calories.

 

I also agree with the previous poster that often food is something we "grab" while we continue to run on the busyness treadmill. Our bodies are stressed and we feed the stress with convenience foods.

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We eat alot more processed food here than other countries. You said that they cook alot and use fresh ingredients which is really true.

 

We have alot of hidden fat, sugar, sodium and calories in all that packaged food.

 

When we use convenience foods, we also use alot fewer calories in preparing it -- less washing, chopping, stirring.

 

We eat alot more in our cars and on the go, so we consume alot more empty calories we don't even think about because we're doing other things.

 

We have the blessing of great abundance, variety and availability of food at mostly very reasonable prices.

 

We have a number of big box stores now that package in large sizes that encourage overeating -- Sam's, Walmart, Costco, BJs, Big Lots.

 

Less active lifestyles brought on by safety concerns for kids playing in neighborhoods, many working parents, long afterschool programs, cheap access to tv/computers/game systems. We're not working off the calories we're consuming.

 

Little physical activity needed for daily life -- we drive and park, then drive and park somewhere else. We use escalators and elevators instead of stairs. We drive over to a friend's house nearby rather than walking or riding a bike.

 

Now I need to go get busy! Our successful lifestyles are killing us!

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I've heard that our idea of portion size is WAY bigger than in Europe, and has gotten much, much bigger over the past several years. Also, in most other countries, taking seconds at a meal isn't done the way it is here.

 

"Big Gulps" and similar monster-sized portions are everywhere.

 

People walk a lot more in many other countries, here people rarely do, unless they are walking specifically for exercise. Many newer suburbs and cities are laid out in a way that almost prevents being able to walk anywhere, there aren't proper sidewalks or safe areas for walking.

 

A lot of it has to do with availability, endless commercials/advertising for junk food, and associating food treats with reward.

 

Michelle T

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Agreeing with the above about eating on the run. We don't eat consciously and take the time to allow our bodies to know when we're full, so we eat more than we need to. Studies have shown that when people eat more slowly, they eat less. (Ever see a fat monk?) In Europe, meals are an event; folks take the time to linger and visit with family, have a glass of wine. Here they are just another thing to be rushed through so we can get on to the next thing.

 

I also believe the whole diet mega-business we've created in this country has hurt overweight people more than it has helped. People think they have to either starve or limit the types of food they eat, when in reality this often does them more harm than good. You have to eat when you're hungry to keep your metabolism revved up; starving makes the body store fat. It's surprising to me that there are still people out there who don't know this.

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Guest Virginia Dawn

there really isn't the abundance of cheap junk food in other places that there is here. The priorities for how money is spent are different as well. Fewer people have cars, so they walk or ride bikes more. Active family vacations are an important part of life for many people.

 

Snacking is unheard of in many places. Also mega-supermarkets are relatively uncommon. A lot of places have weekly market days where farmers and vendors set up their wares in individual towns. Processed foods are often more expensive.

 

Also, you should see the size of the refrigerators overseas! They make ours look like monstrosities.

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I also believe the whole diet mega-business we've created in this country has hurt overweight people more than it has helped. People think they have to either starve or limit the types of food they eat, when in reality this often does them more harm than good. You have to eat when you're hungry to keep your metabolism revved up; starving makes the body store fat. It's surprising to me that there are still people out there who don't know this.

 

I think it's called The Weigh Down Diet? It's written from a Christian perspective and was a diet-group thing in the 90s.

 

She makes this point too, that by focussing so completely on dieting, exercising, vitamin supplements, training, restricted diets we're actually doing the opposite -- we're obsessing, failing and eating more.

 

But it's big business now.

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Great questions! I have been reading some things lately that speak to the core answers, and it's not just fast food. It's all the fake foods and the cockamamie idea that individual nutrients are responsible for health.

 

As for fake foods, well, we can all beam and say that we're feeding wholesome foods to our kids, yet most anything that is in a can and/or is labeled with a health claim is garbage, plain and simple. (How sad it is to think that so many Americans scrape by and try to do the right thing only to be assaulted by cheap eats, full of cr@p!) I shudder to imagine what percentage of most non-whole "foods" in the average market are produced from corn, soy, and creative chemicals...and most of the corn and soy are creative, as well: GMO. :rolleyes:

 

So many of the health claims made by various nutrient-happy researchers seem bogus and based on little if any evidence whatsoever. One day it's lutein, the next, it's omegas, fiber, non-low-sat-trans fat-o-rama... :confused: And hey! If Ingredient Y is good for you, then let's inject/marinate/genetically-splice/include it in 20,000 new products and see who we can hook. :angry:

 

Perhaps if we ate real food to begin with, we would be satisfied and not need super-whopper-jumbo size servings.

 

I am sick to death of it, frankly, and I want to shout at people with their carts full of trash. I know that so many of them cannot help what they buy (due to poverty), and it doesn't help that most education about food in general comes from Kraft, ConAgra, and CNN. :angry: Also, how can you fight big companies who put their healthful claims right on the label (whole wheat! fights heart disease! wipes for you!) yet fail to mention that, say, bread doesn't require 36 ingredients! Or that removing the fat from Product X requires them to up the refined sugar content! Argh! All these "healthy" choices appear to be making this country fatter and sicker than ever, yet we call BUTTER the ENEMY?! :glare:

 

A couple of enlightening reads for me have been Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and Gary Taubes' Good Calories Bad Calories. Read them if you haven't. I intend to send both authors a photo of my new garden next year along with a big thank you. ;)

 

P.S. And don't get me started on fluoride... ;)

 

ETA: Sorry to place this rant here...I don't think it spoke to your OP at all, but I feel better getting it off my chest...

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I don't think it is so much the 'junk' food....as it is people just plain and simple eating too much.

 

I really think it comes down to the amount of food you eat.

 

When I go to a restaurant....I am amazed how much people can eat in one sitting....and yea....most of those people are overweight.

 

I eat my share of 'junk' food...but I don't sit there and eat a whole bag of chips....and a whole bag of cookies...etc.

 

Tammy

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but for us we buy the junk because it's what's cheap we simply can't afford to eat healthy right now. *sigh* If healthy food was as cheap as junk food I would buy it.

 

 

(((Stacy))) You are not alone, and I am absolutely ON FIRE about this issue lately. Good, nourishing REAL food should be affordable for all!

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It's part of our biological make-up to crave salt, fat, and sweet. Babies instinctually will pick sweet over sour, for example. The sweet food is less likely to be spoiled. So, add a bunch of sugar, salt, and fat to the food... and you have a life-long customer. The add the convenience of a drive through, late hours, and you have an addict. That's what Americans have become, food addicts.

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ALso, in other countries they exercise more. I've seen places where people live in the city and walk everywhere. If they have to go a distance they ride their bike. In Asia, hard labor is still around, so they could eat like us and still be skinny! And yeah, fast food is NOT as available. In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, there was no fast food restaurants. sad, ya know. They eat seafood, rice and veggies; most of it fresh.

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Unfortunately the American way of life regarding fast foods is spreading around the globe. European youngsters are becoming increasingly overweight too. Too much junk food too little exercise. More two income families with unfriendly working hours mean fewer dinners are home cooked. Even if the children walk to and from school, when they get home they play the computer or videogames instead of going to the park like in the past.

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b/c of its abundance, convenience etc. people have taken food for granted and stopped prioritizing food & its quality, I was raised on honey as a sweetener I'm guessing that is why I get ill when I eat more sugar than one should. I think the makers of fast food, processed food, etc. know exactly how addictive it is and use that aspect to keep people buying it. Most of this food makes me feel ill, I stay far away from it. Hopefully the "American attitude" will turn around as it becomes more of a public debate/issue.

 

"You are what you eat" is sooo true.

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A couple of enlightening reads for me have been Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and Gary Taubes' Good Calories Bad Calories. Read them if you haven't. I intend to send both authors a photo of my new garden next year along with a big thank you. ;)

 

 

 

 

You beat me to it. Having just finished Pollan's In Defense of Food, I was going to recommend the book as a great read not only to understand American food policy but also to cut through the media hype when considering a sensible dietary course.

 

Jane (who has fresh local strawberries on her counter! My favorite area farmer was selling the first of the season, along with gorgeous organic lettuce, asparagus, and broccoli. Heaven...)

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After living and travelling all over Europe I think it's a combination of things.

 

1. While we have big grocery stores and such, Americans who live in the suburbs and even most cities don't have access to the farmers' markets and things that every European village and city has. I could buy fresh eggs, meat, cheese, fruits, veggies, flowers, almost anything I needed. When you buy it directly from the farmers it tastes so much better and it's less expensive.

 

2. Cities and villages in Europe are set up to allow for bike riding and walking. In fact, in Germany (and many other European countries) there are pedestrian/biking only shopping zones in nearly *every* town. That is a huge difference. You can't walk or ride a bike in most towns or suburbs in the US.

 

3. Most of them eat two small meals a day and one large meal a day. Nearly everything is closed (banks, stores, etc) for two hours at lunch to allow people to have a nice lunch. It's expected.

 

4. There are most places intended for walking. They have beautiful parks with waterfalls, trees and natural beauty. They are intended for people to come, walk, have a picnic, etc. You don't see many of those in the US, especialy not as beautiful.

 

5. You can only go to restaurants at meal times (this is changing with some fast food restaurants but is still true of most restaurants). If you miss lunch then you're out of luck.

 

There are more variables that I can think of but those are the major ones. The US just has a strange mindset to food *and* exercise compared to the rest of the world.

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I think junk food has a lot to do with it for sure. But, I want to suggest that our lifestyle as Americans also has a lot to do with it.

 

We have a TON of junk food here. It's dirt cheap. Cheaper than the veggies and fruit you get at the market even. The people here eat a LOT of junk food, more than I've seen even in the US. They drink a LOT of soda and sugary drinks. Baby food has sugar added here. It's really, really unhealthy.

 

I think the reason American's are obese is not completely attributed to diet, although, it's a huge reason. I really believe it's their lack of activity.

 

I recently went back to the US after being gone for 2 1/2 years and I was amazed at all the drive thrus. Drive thru banking, bill paying, pharmacies, food, etc. Everyone has a car, noone walks anywhere. I'm amazed at the jockeying for position at Target for the parking spots closest to the doors!:auto: There would be 10 spots open just a little ways down, but, people will drive around for a good while waiting for the ones by the door to open up.

 

Here, we walk everywhere. We have a car, but, we usually park it in one spot and walk to all our errands because parking is horrendous, it just works better.

 

So when you couple the inactivity with the junk food, you have a real obesity problem. Just a thought!

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I recently went back to the US after being gone for 2 1/2 years and I was amazed at all the drive thrus. Drive thru banking, bill paying, pharmacies, food, etc. Everyone has a car, noone walks anywhere. I'm amazed at the jockeying for position at Target for the parking spots closest to the doors!:auto: There would be 10 spots open just a little ways down, but, people will drive around for a good while waiting for the ones by the door to open up.

 

Here, we walk everywhere. We have a car, but, we usually park it in one spot and walk to all our errands because parking is horrendous, it just works better.

 

So when you couple the inactivity with the junk food, you have a real obesity problem. Just a thought!

 

It was the same for us when we lived in Costa Rica, we didn't own a car so we walked everywhere! And let me say we both lost a lot of weight! When we moved back to the US my dh and me gained a ton of weight!

 

We were very poor in Costa Rica and didn't eat the greatest, although I do have to say the fresh produce was very inexpensive and we ate more of it when we were living in Costa Rica then we do now. It's crazy that to buy 5 apples costs over $4.00! We just can't afford that right now. I can buy 5 apples but they have to last us 2 weeks and to do that I would have to divide one apple between the 3 people in my family who likes them. It's like this with just about all the fruit out there. It's cheaper for me to buy something that's junk with apple in it than to buy the real thing!:glare:

It's the same with bread. I would love to buy whole grain but I just can't afford it. I can get white bread for .50 at our local bread discount store when the wheat is $1.00. I know that's cheap for wheat bread but when you pinching pennies every cent counts.

 

I've really begun to worry about the health of my nursing baby. I make sure I take a vitamin everyday but sometimes I wonder if she would be better off drinking formula although we could never afford it!:001_rolleyes:

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I've really begun to worry about the health of my nursing baby. I make sure I take a vitamin everyday but sometimes I wonder if she would be better off drinking formula although we could never afford it!:001_rolleyes:

 

Don't question your milk for a second! Your body has all that baby needs.

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Don't question your milk for a second! Your body has all that baby needs.

 

Exactly. Your diet would have to be really, really poor for your milk to decrease in quality. If your body has to choose between storing nutrients for mama or giving them to milk, the milk comes out winning.

 

Unless you're on a near starvation diet, your milk should be fine. Besides, you just said you can't afford formula. :)

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I agree. In fact, studies show that even under famine conditions moms still make milk with all the necessary nutrients.

 

What a relief to hear! This has been something that has been bugging me since I haven't been able to eat like I should. Thanks for easing my mind.

I think it all started when my ped wanted to start her on vitamins at her first check up, he said breastfed babies don't always get what they need nutrition wise. I took the script and threw it away. I don't know why I let this bother me, I breastfed two other babies before this and even attended La Leche Legue meetings and know they say breastfed babies don't need extra vitamins. I guess I just worried because nobody knows that I don't have a healthy diet so they must be talking about mothers who eat what the should! Anyway, I'm rambling now!

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I think it all started when my ped wanted to start her on vitamins at her first check up, he said breastfed babies don't always get what they need nutrition wise. I took the script and threw it away.

 

This is actually old advice. When my son was a baby the doctor we saw (because it was a tiny military post) wasn't a pediatrician but was an orthopedic surgeon. He suggested iron supplements when my son was 6 months old. I explained to him the studies that showed giving iron supplements to breastfed babies was not only not helpful but actually caused them to absorb less iron, overall. He looked it up and was excited to find that I was right. He didn't suggest them to any other mom. Vitamin D is something else that is often recommended because they didn't think there was Vitamin D in breastmilk. However, they have discovered that there is Vitamin D in breastmilk but it is water soluable, unlike most Vitamin D which is fat soluable. Flouride you could be on the fence about but pretty much all other vitamins babies will receive from breastmilk unless the mother is literally dying from starvation.

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I truly believe that there has got to be a way for low income people to eat more nutrient rich food.

 

I spent a few months working at a grocery store last year. Some of you may remember my talking about the WIC checks and food stamps. I used to get really upset that people would spend an incredible amount of money (through food stamps) on junk food. Chips, soda, processed junk, sugary cereals, etc.

 

I know that it is much more expensive to purchase organic produce and dairy and pastured meat. But I think that there are compromises that can be made to help people spend the little money they have on better quality food.

 

Buying larger cuts of meat and using them for multiple meals, learning to stretch meat by adding veggies and beans, eating at least one beans and rice meal per week, exploring The Wonderful World of Cabbage (it is almost always the cheapest vegetable, and the most versatile), learning to cook from scratch...these are all ways to maximize a small grocery budget.

 

I know this is kind of off topic, but it pertains to a couple of the posts in the thread.

 

And yes, I agree that in this country we drive too much, sit around too much, eat foods that have been pumped with chemicals, and then we eat too much of those foods.

 

And the snacks, the snacks.

We still think that we can feed children cheap carbs and sugary garbage and as long as they're "low fat" we're okay.

:confused:

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Some thoughts:

 

I think the kids here have more access to TV, Video Games, Computer etc and rather Play" baseball, soldiers etc than to be outside and play those things.

 

Parents find it easier to run to McD's rather than take time to cook a meal.

 

Parents not knowing how to put together a meal for they may have had parents that worked and always chose to eat out.

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but for us we buy the junk because it's what's cheap we simply can't afford to eat healthy right now. *sigh* If healthy food was as cheap as junk food I would buy it.

 

 

This may seem true to you, but I challenge that it is possible to eat healthy on a slim budget.

 

For one, junk foods do not fill up as well as whole foods. Sure, brown rice may cost more, or wheat bread may cost more, but they also fill you up more. Try making whole wheat pancakes one night and another night make white flour pancakes. You will see that your family will eat fewer of the whole grain ones.

 

Also, homemade bread is cheaper than storebought bread (without the additives as well).

 

Also, center your week's food around the sales papers. Buy frozen and fresh vegetables, meats and fruits when they are on sale. Often local grocers sell bags of potatoes buy one get one free. I make many meals which incorporate potatoes on those weeks -- corn chowder (a very cheap meal), boiled potatoes (mash them with some butter) -- this is much cheaper than whipped, mashed potatoes and easier because you don't have to peel the potatoes first. If you eat the skin, they are even more filling.

 

I make soups with all vegetable, meat and rice/pasta/potato leftovers.

 

Also, the less work you have to do often leads to higher prices, for example:

 

Oatmeal you have to cook for yourself is cheaper than instant pouches of oatmeal.

 

Frozen, canned, concentrated juice is cheaper than the refrigerated versions.

 

Huge chunks of cheese which you shred yourself are cheaper.

 

I agree some healthy alternatives cost more, but that is a simple supply and demand issue. With the money I save by cooking from scratch and watching the sales, I am able to buy unsweetened jelly, real maple syrup, and real butter instead of margarine.

 

One also has to look beyond the immediate cost of a food to the longterm health benefits.

 

Finally, I truly believe if people looked at food as a source of energy, of life, and of nutrients rather than a pasttime, quality eating would be evident in more families.

 

The first step for those wanting more affordable grocery bills is to stop buying anything that does not contribute to ones health (not speaking to anyone specifically here -- general public) -- this includes:

 

tobacco, alcohol, soft drinks, fake juices (anything with high fructose corn syrup or sugar added -- in fact, fruit juices are not a necessity, though 100% fruit juice can be beneficial), chips, candy, desserts, and so on.

 

I also believe most Americans eat even when they are not hungry -- recreational eating.

 

Your library should have many cookbooks with frugal recipes.

 

Buying fruit and vegetables when they are in season is a great idea, too. This is when most foods are affordable.

 

Having a small garden is a good idea as well. Some cucumber and tomato varieties can even be grown in pots on a deck.

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I've not yet had time to read the other posts; I'm going to come back to this thread later and do that since this subject is of particular interest to me. While I certainly concur that the average American diet is distinctly less healthy than desirable, I can't agree that it's markedly better in other countries. It's phenomenal how much junk food and soda people in some other countries consume. And I'm not just talking about "poor" nations. Don't fool yourself into thinking everyone in, say, Italy is eating healthy. Not by a long shot! But I do think people in other nations are often more active ~ either by choice or necessity ~ than are Americans. Between that and the "on the run" American diet that so often relies on snacks, the obesity (and other ailments) rate here is off the charts, yes.

 

By the way, have you seen the photographic layouts in Peter Menzel's book, Hungry Planet? If you aren't familiar with it, I'm sure your library has a copy. Once you glance through it, though, you'll want to own it for yourself; together with Material World (same photographer), it's a fantastic look into other cultures.

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By the way, have you seen the photographic layouts in Peter Menzel's book, Hungry Planet? If you aren't familiar with it, I'm sure your library has a copy. Once you glance through it, though, you'll want to own it for yourself; together with Material World (same photographer), it's a fantastic look into other cultures.

 

 

I agree, these books are fantastic! Really important for our children to see too!

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This may seem true to you, but I challenge that it is possible to eat healthy on a slim budget.

 

For one, junk foods do not fill up as well as whole foods. Sure, brown rice may cost more, or wheat bread may cost more, but they also fill you up more. Try making whole wheat pancakes one night and another night make white flour pancakes. You will see that your family will eat fewer of the whole grain ones.

 

Also, homemade bread is cheaper than storebought bread (without the additives as well).

 

Also, center your week's food around the sales papers. Buy frozen and fresh vegetables, meats and fruits when they are on sale. Often local grocers sell bags of potatoes buy one get one free. I make many meals which incorporate potatoes on those weeks -- corn chowder (a very cheap meal), boiled potatoes (mash them with some butter) -- this is much cheaper than whipped, mashed potatoes and easier because you don't have to peel the potatoes first. If you eat the skin, they are even more filling.

 

I make soups with all vegetable, meat and rice/pasta/potato leftovers.

 

Also, the less work you have to do often leads to higher prices, for example:

 

Oatmeal you have to cook for yourself is cheaper than instant pouches of oatmeal.

 

Frozen, canned, concentrated juice is cheaper than the refrigerated versions.

 

Huge chunks of cheese which you shred yourself are cheaper.

 

I agree some healthy alternatives cost more, but that is a simple supply and demand issue. With the money I save by cooking from scratch and watching the sales, I am able to buy unsweetened jelly, real maple syrup, and real butter instead of margarine.

 

One also has to look beyond the immediate cost of a food to the longterm health benefits.

 

Finally, I truly believe if people looked at food as a source of energy, of life, and of nutrients rather than a pasttime, quality eating would be evident in more families.

 

The first step for those wanting more affordable grocery bills is to stop buying anything that does not contribute to ones health (not speaking to anyone specifically here -- general public) -- this includes:

 

tobacco, alcohol, soft drinks, fake juices (anything with high fructose corn syrup or sugar added -- in fact, fruit juices are not a necessity, though 100% fruit juice can be beneficial), chips, candy, desserts, and so on.

 

I also believe most Americans eat even when they are not hungry -- recreational eating.

 

Your library should have many cookbooks with frugal recipes.

 

Buying fruit and vegetables when they are in season is a great idea, too. This is when most foods are affordable.

 

Having a small garden is a good idea as well. Some cucumber and tomato varieties can even be grown in pots on a deck.

 

:iagree:

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Lifestyle, not just the junk. From the time I was a kid we always noticed a difference when we crossed the border even before high fructose corn syrup, although Canada's catching up now. My sister and her dh spent a year living in a town in New Zealand. She said they ate terribly, lots of junk food, etc, and after soccer games they'd eat fries with gravy on white bread (I think that's the combo.) But they walked all the time and played sports like soccer, so the people there were slimmer than in Canada.

 

Also, she told me that doctors often won't tell people to lose weight because so many people get offended. Plus, not everyone avails themselves of exercise. Lots and lots of people eat and sit in front of the TV or computer.

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Lifestyle, not just the junk. From the time I was a kid we always noticed a difference when we crossed the border even before high fructose corn syrup, although Canada's catching up now. My sister and her dh spent a year living in a town in New Zealand. She said they ate terribly, lots of junk food, etc, and after soccer games they'd eat fries with gravy on white bread (I think that's the combo.) But they walked all the time and played sports like soccer, so the people there were slimmer than in Canada.

 

mmmmmmmmm...gravy on white bread, yum. Oh, sorry, childhood flashbacks.

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The OP (Danestress) asked why we eat so much junk, and the implied unwritten continuation of that sentence was "when we ought to know better".

 

I would have to agree, Dana, with what you queried in your post. Yes, it is a product of habit and training. And, it is wrapped tightly around technology. Technology, one might argue, began to change the way we eat as long ago as the time when we learned to cook our food (which has, in turn, changed the way humans have evolved, if you are willing to go with that concept). Technology brought us gas powered vehicles and factory farming, which in turn brought us abundantly cheap food, particularly corn. Technology liberated us from so much of the physical work that was once required of our daily existence. Technology brought us the microwave oven, shop 'n' pop meals, freakishly modified foods (thank you Debra in TX -- I so wish I could rep you for your reply!), computers, televisions, and an ever-beating heart in The Monster known as the marketing and advertising industry which successfully bombards us with messages everywhere not only of what to eat but simply to eat.

 

Cheap, energy-dense foods that taste good because they satisfy our natural attraction to fat and sugar, are more accessible to the poorest communities than are meals like fish and vegetables. Which is why the African American, Native American, and Hispanic communities are the first to fatten. The food industry powers that be would like to blame this crisis on our own lack of self discipline. But, the truth is, many of us act out of habits that we aren't even sure we have, let alone having knowledge of where we acquired those habits. When did it become normal to guzzle a 24, 32, or 64 oz beverage? We have no idea, we just do it because it's what's available to us, and, well, everybody else does it. It's not in our nature to resist abundance.

 

We don't think much about food, we Americans. We tend to eat what is available to us, even when we're not hungry. We eat on the fly, and we eat everywhere. I've read that Japanese cars sold in Japan don't have drink holders because the Japanese don't eat in their cars. Junk food is ubiquitous, and often politically motivated. Take the food pyramid as an example. Was it an accident that for years we were told to eat mostly carbohydrates? Was it pure chance that the USDA -- not an organization devoted to nutrition but one devoted to agriculture -- was the group to sponsor that pyramid and see that it was plastered on the sides of every box of cereal in America? I don't think so.

 

We eat according to our per capita income. The more money we earn, the more calories we consume, as a nation. So, the richer other nations become, the more this will become a global problem.

 

I have to step down off my soap box now. I could go on like this through my next meal! :rant:

 

 

Doran

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Australia is not far behind the U.S. when it comes to obesity.

I think it must be related to lifestyle, and the majority of people have stressed out lifestyles- its just normal in our culture. To be very busy is just normal, to the point that people feel guilty if they are not busy, and expect to be able to destress in a holiday once a year.

In other countries, it's just not like that so much. They don't work so hard. They take time out for long lunchtimes (I am thinking Italy, France), mealtimes are much more important as a time for people to gather together.

So if I am alone and rushing from one place to another, and hungry because I skipped breakfast, I am more likely to grab something unhealthy, than when I am having a lunch with a friend in a cafe for a couple of hours.

Also, surely it has something to do with women being much more in the workforce and therefore unable to spend as much time preparing food? No one is home to think about it, and when everyone gets home, its all we can manage to cook a pizza or a TV dinner.

Its about priorities, and our cultures' are all twisted.

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I think that living in cars has a lot to do with it. I've seen a big change from when I was young in the UK - people then used to walk a lot more. I didn't know any family that had more than one car, so someone in the family was usually doing a lot of walking/taking buses. Now car ownership in Britain is much higher, people walk much less, weight is a problem.

 

Laura

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Here in Germany there are plenty of overweight people...but mostly it's the younger generation. I love looking to see what people buy when shopping in Aldi and Rewe. The older people always have tons of fruits/veggies/meat but never really any junk. The younger people always have soda/juice combo's, chips, loads of pizza's and very little fresh fruits and veggies. I live on the street with lots of older Germans and everyday rain, snow, whatever...these little people are out walking there dogs even if it means they use their walkers. Interesting me to..:001_smile:

 

Also..they eat their large meal at lunch. Dinner is light..just fresh bread, cheese, butter, maybe sliced thin meat and wine.

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Availability, technology, cultural eating habits. These all play a part as previous posters have mentioned. I'd like to share an example from Asia that we experienced first hand.

 

We spent a month in Tainan City, Taiwan a couple of years ago. The people there, for the most part are slim and relatively fit. They are also very short in comparison to westerners. They eat mostly a traditional diet including a lot of fish and noodles. Most people don't have a working kitchen in their apartment, so they eat dinner on the street level at small family owned open air stalls. A bowl of soup with veggies, noodles, a little fish is about it for dinner for many of them. If they go to night market they might buy more food, but natural things like fried quail eggs or omelets or tofu or shrimp rolls. Tainan City is a historical city with a lot of temples. It is not hugely popular with the younger people who tend to migrate to Taipei for work and night life. There are a lot of 7-Elevens, one on just about every corner, but not a lot of McDonald's.

 

In contrast, Taipei, their more western capitol city, abounds with McDonald's as well as other western chain restaurants. The people are busy and eat on the run, sucking down Starbuck's lattes as they go. The Taiwanese people there are much taller, bigger boned, and yes stockier. They are still not obese, but they are noticeably different that their cousins to the south.

 

Also, in Tainan it is still traditional to drink a lot of Oolong tea. It is a dietary secret for the young ladies. They swill it instead of meals sometimes. They are very weight conscious and ads on tv abound with weight loss regimes (usually involving tea). Oolong increases your metabolism four fold. It has a mega dose of caffeine.

 

One more difference we noticed was the recent changeover from bicycles to scooters. This is in most cities. People there are getting far less exercise than they once did. And, they are constantly breathing in toxic pollutants from all the scooters which do not filter their exhaust. You can walk along the street and feel woozy from the fumes. I'm sure the whole population will see effects from the lack of exercise and the pollution eventually.

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A week ago I ended a 40-day fast...not from food altogether, but from certain foods. I deleted meat completely from my diet, all dairy products, sugar & caffeine, plus any foods or drinks with chemicals. Ultimately I don't think dairy and meat are unhealthy, but deleting them was part of the particular fast I chose. I learned a lot through this:

 

1) I am addicted to caffeine, chemicals & sugar. I am not one who would be considered an extremely unhealthy eater. I generally had about 2 cups of coffee in the a.m. and about 3-4 fountain diet cokes per week (too much altogether, I do realize), I ate veggies & fruit, & I'm not one who keeps lots of junk food in my home (chips, cookies, etc.) I just ate too many processed foods on a daily basis, too much bread, too much cheese...

 

2) I, as well as many Americans, have too often chosen quick foods to shovel in, mainly out of the need to keep moving and feed the body, not eating to fuel my body with good things, just eating to "get it done".

 

3) I do WAY too much emotional eating. Stress, anger, frustration, lack of faith in God at any given moment, fear, low self-esteem, doubt, etc. are often strong contributors for my sucking down some chemical-based garbage. I never grab an apple or carrot when I have an emotional need. It has always been a bowl of cereal or whatever quickie thing I might have on hand. When I am at peace with myself and life, I always tend to eat more healthy and weigh less. I only realized how often I naturally grab for those foods when I didn't have them to grab and had to prayerfully deal with what was eating me at that particular moment.

 

4) Eating healthy can be time consuming. The only bread I ate was homemade whole wheat tortillas and that took my time to make them. I had to be creative with my cooking. I have become used to the quick and easy nature of chemical-filled, processed foods.

 

5) If I don't stay on the outside perimeter of the grocery store, I WILL have chemicals, corn syrup, or sugar in my food.

 

6) Eating regularly and being full while deleting many negative things from my diet, I lost 12 lbs in 40 days. Before I began, I was about 22 lbs overweight, so 12 lbs is quite a bit to lose. Weight loss really wasn't my goal with this (drawing closer to God was), but the truth was clear...if I eat healthy and keep many of the unhealty things out of my eating I can be satisfied and a healthy weight. Bad, addictive food is the reason many people are overweight!! It is not THE cause, but I'm thinking much of the obesity problem is due to this.

 

7) Americans, myself included in that term, eat way too often sheerly for the entertainment value of it and not for the health value nor for actual hunger.

 

There were other things God taught me, about general eating problems and other things relating to our need for Him, but I won't go into that fully here. The whole thing just made me more aware of my own personal problems along with the problems the vast majority have.

 

Teresa

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I wonder...Is there an abundance of things there that are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup like there is here?

 

That stuff is evil... pure evil. It's in everything; that and wheat starch. Even products that are in the "crunchy" section have HFCS in them. I'm to the point that I feel we need to move out to the country and grow all our own food, but then I think, no way, bad back, and too much work. I guess I'm a typical Yank.

 

angry018.gif

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That stuff is evil... pure evil. It's in everything; that and wheat starch. Even products that are in the "crunchy" section have HFCS in them. I'm to the point that I feel we need to move out to the country and grow all our own food, but then I think, no way, bad back, and too much work. I guess I'm a typical Yank.

 

angry018.gif

 

We avoid it like the plague and it can be done. Just watch your brands! I hate, hate, hate it. As I understand it, the reason corn syrup is largely an American phenomena is tied to the lack of trade with Cuba. However, I did not research that comment so no links! However, food imported from the States is liable to have it. We avoid other things, too, but since dh likes to eat "normal" food, I know there are choice with no corn syrup of any kind.

 

But check labels.

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We avoid it like the plague and it can be done. Just watch your brands! I hate, hate, hate it.

 

Yes! Down in these parts, the impossible thing to find sans that evil cr@p is barbecue sauce! Most often, HFCS is the FIRST ingredient! :eek: I just make my own now (from organic ketchup), and it's scrumptious.

 

Now, if I could just get the breadmaking down...I swear: there is NO BREAD in a typical grocery store! NONE! It is all fake. Talk about plague...ugh!

 

The garbage filling the shelves down here makes poutine seem like health food, truly! ;)

 

:rant::leaving:

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