Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Six Reasons Why America is So Unhealthy?

I am going to be real with you here.  When I left for France in late September last year I weighed about 175 or 180.  Over the course of the 8 months I was living in France, I lost 25 pounds and was down to the lowest I have been in so long I can't remember, 155.  Since being back in America I have already gained 5 pounds. 

So why is it that the second I set foot on American soil and breathe the air here I gain weight?  Is there that much difference in lifestyles between the French and Americans?  The answer: yes.

1.) In America, there is a Starbucks on every corner.  In France, although they do have Starbucks in the larger cities like Paris and Lyon, they are mostly considered an insult to the French 'cafe.'  Starbucks is American and commercial.  Two things the French are not.

2.) In America, there are a million fast food chains and they too are on every corner.  France has two main fast food chains.  Good old McDonald's and Quick.  And they are not on every corner and they are not as easily accessed. 

3.) Americans live such a fast paced lifestyle, they need to eat fast food.  The French enjoy food.  They take two-hour lunch breaks and have five-course meals.  We are running off to soccer practice and have to grab Carl's Jr. along the way.

4.) Food isn't enjoyed like it should be. See point three.  The French take time to sit down and enjoy their food.  They take pride in the way it is prepared and consumed.  They sit down together and give it time to digest. 

5.) Americans will literally drive around the corner.  No one walks.  Anywhere.  The French walk everywhere.  Some people don't even own cars.  In the 8 months I was living in France this last year, I didn't step foot in the gym or run or do workouts at home.  I did walk my son to school every day and cook meals most every night.

6.)  Because people here are so busy, we buy for weeks at a time if possible, and not as many fresh foods.  The French go to the store sometimes on a daily basis.  There are farmer's markets in every city, big or small.  There is always availability to buy fresh foods.

Overall, the French lead a healthier lifestyle.  They take a two-hour lunch break every day, students included.  Kids never go to school on Wednesdays.  What happens if you are a parent with a business?  You close your shop on Wednesdays.  Everyone takes a two-hour lunch.  They have 6 weeks of vacation time compared to our standard 2.  SIX WEEKS!!

I think us Americans can learn something from these crazy Frenchies.  Just chill.  You don't have to conquer the world today.  Take a breather.  Enjoy your family.  Take a walk.  Relax. 

Granted, I think the French could learn a few things from us too.  Like when you actually do go to work, WORK!  And I am not doing you a disservice by asking you to do your job.  That is why you get paid.

Now how do we make necessary changes here in America?  What are some things you think we should do to try to cultivate healthier lifestyles?  I wish we could change things, but I think it might be a personal choice.  What do you think?


trininista said...

This post is spot on! Not only is fast food ubiquitous in the US, but the servings are MASSIVE. And Europeans definitely do place a lot of emphasis on meals and community and socialising. I think the same goes for Trinis! I did a somewhat similar post last year about my vacations and my waistline. lol. http://trininista.blogspot.com/2010/05/racked-with-calorie-envy.html

Grammy Goodwill said...

My hubby and I were amazed when we were in England almost 20 years ago at the serving size compared to ours. We still talk about it ~ and sometimes we try to follow that in our eating. (We do love our food.) We definitely have bad eating habits, mostly snacking while we watch tv. I'm trying to do better about walking, even picking the farthest spot away from the store. Keep preaching' to us!

TexaGermaNadian said...

Man, isn't it sad that when you come back to America the first thing you notice is overweight people?! At least that is what we notice. I think it is all the junk food and additives in the food, but who really knows. People just don't care anymore here. And I always feel bad for the overweight little kids. No chance. I think you put it perfectly, it is a personal choice.

Vanilla - notes from my closet said...

I think British diets are similar to the Americans... I think the way we eat is SO important! for our future health... Food and lifestyle should work toward a healthy happy life, but it's easier said then done when the country you live in is SO overweight.

Love, Vanilla


A.Vang said...

Oh Gosh, I really enjoyed reading this post. Sometimes I think we kind of get this stubborn attitude that we don't have to learn from anyone else and that is sad! It would be great if we really could see the benefit of slowing down and enjoying life while also working hard. It would benefit us a lot more than just in our waist lines I think. Thanks for the great post.

Anonymous said...

Seriously a fabulous post Natalia!

When I went to Norway for a WEEK (mind you...A WEEK) this past January...I lost 7 lbs. And I did not eat healthy, nor did I try to lose weight. I just ate cooked and fresh foods. It is amazing how that can make someone healthier and more fit in one week's time! I love to grocery shop and I will be doing it 2 times a week for sure when I am there to get fresh foods.

Also, I see what you mean about Americans driving around the corner. The other day I was appalled in my apartment complex. I was walking my dog and I literally saw a guy get in his car, place a bag of trash on the trunk of his car, and drive it 100 yards to the dumpster. I'm not even joking. It was incredible. I nearly gagged from disgust!

I hope you're having a great time in the US right now :-)

Mrs F. said...

I love love love this post. I feel the same way about the difference USA x Brazil. Mc Donald's was a special treat when I was a kid and fresh food was made everyday. I am trying to incorporate the Brazilian style of living, but sometimes it's hard not to give in. I don't own a car, so it takes FOREVER to go to places and get stuff done, because everything is so far away. And I don't understand why Americans have big dinners and then go to sleep soon after.

I gotta stop now, before this post turns into a post. Hope you're having a great week :)

xo, Ana

Suzzie V said...

I love this post. My husband lived in Germany for two years and it sounds like they are similar to the French. I think everyone should move to a healthier place. jk that's ridiculous, but walking places is so much better than driving - that's one thing we try to do. I might even be buying a bike to get to work soon. WHOOO I can't wait. We'll see though.. that may still just be a dream.

Isa said...

That all is so true! As you know I'm from Portugal and every morning I walk to buy fresh bread and fresh vegetables if I need. I cook ALL the meals at home (even the snacks) and we ALWAYS eat veggies in every big meal. Our snacks are sometimes fruit (wich we eat everyday one or two or in juice). And at my house we don't eat a lot of meat. Only chicken and pork, but I buy loads of fish!
And we stay at the dinning table for ever when the family is together! I hate eating out because things always taste greasy...
Ah! And most important of all we cook everything with olive oil! Much better for your health.
But, don't worry about weight, you'll loose it when you come back:)


Shannon Olson said...

I agree with you on all these points. It has been the same for me with moving to NZ. It is so expensive to go out to eat here even to fast food that we eat all our meals at home. I have not really done much exersize and I have lost weight just like you. I think it comes down to eating at home and the fact that everything here is not as easy as in the usa.

We hang our clothes to dry, wash dishes by hand, make fires, just much more activity in general. When I lived in the CA it seemed like everything was much quicker and took less effort.

Nicole said...

My husband and I talk about this all the time. This post is spot on for sure!

TracyP said...

Thinking about these things makes me want to slow down and enjoy life more. Thanks for sharing your experiences of both lifestyles.

Jennifer said...

Wow we clearly need to learn from the French! What must America always be in a hurry? Maybe replace fast food places with farmer markets!
Great post!

Lovely Light said...

We have lived in South Africa since February and I have noticed some similarities with your experience. We have eaten fast food 3 times since we came here, I used to go every day in the USA. We has both lost weight and are eating so many more vegetables! I'm enjoying cooking, when before, it was a chore. I just "followed your blog", if you have time, follow our lives at http://withtoucomplexities.blogspot.com

Take care!

Lindsay said...

I totally agree with this! I notice the same thing between Denmark and Canada. When I do move back to Canada I am going to try and adopt the practice of slowing down, taking time to cook, sitting at the table to slowly eat a meal. Basically, like you said, us North Americans need to learn to relax and take it easy and enjoy life and each other!


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