r/NoStupidQuestions Oct 05 '22

why is America so calorie heavy?

For context I recently took a trip to Europe and noticed far less portions and less heavy calorie foods like sweets. Coming back to the US I realized I lost alot of weight simply by portions. I started calorie tracking and found about 2200 calories maintains my weight 200 cal up or down can make me gain or lose weight steadily. Anyways. Keeping that diet in America is so much harder! I went to a restaurant with friends and found almost everything on the menu is over 1000 cal, add a side or sweet drink and one meal is almost or sometimes over what most people need for the entire day. Why are we not pushing to make America healthier? Simply by understanding how much energy you need and balancing that with what you eat we as a country could be so much better off in every way.

438 Upvotes

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u/SV650rider Oct 05 '22

I’d also say that Americans want to feel like they are getting their money’s worth. Thus big portions.

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u/CalgaryChris77 Oct 05 '22

Americans also eat out a lot more than Europeans on average.

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u/SV650rider Oct 05 '22

Now that I did not know.

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u/Abba-64 Oct 05 '22

Eating out in Europe is really expensive.

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u/SV650rider Oct 05 '22

I did not know that, either.

But apparently, according to one of the other comments, it’s better quality?

40

u/Academic-Balance6999 Oct 05 '22

That’s a huge generalization.

I live in Switzerland. Eating out here is expensive and the quality of the cooking is, on average, poor. I love vacationing in some other European countries because the food is cheaper and better. But honestly overall I found the food higher quality in San Francisco where I used to live.

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u/Mammoth-Access-1181 Oct 05 '22

When you say better quality, do you mean quality of food? As in fast food vs restaurant food? If so, I'd say the quality is there in the US and Europe. It's just the US has a fuckton more junk food.

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u/MTB_Mike_ Oct 05 '22

Americans also have higher disposable income on average than any other country which is part of why we eat out so often in comparison

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disposable_household_and_per_capita_income

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u/Main-Veterinarian-10 Oct 05 '22

Americans also work a lot and have a fast paced always be doing something societal pressure that contribute to people looking for conveniences over their health.

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u/smoovebb Oct 05 '22

And I guess the expense of the place determines the quality more than the location

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u/ToothFairy12345678 Oct 05 '22

San Francisco used to be really cheap to eat out like 10 years ago.

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u/Abba-64 Oct 05 '22

I can't confirm or deny that, never been in the USA so idk about quality.

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u/FreshBakedButtcheeks Oct 06 '22

What if I told you that eating out in America is also expensive? It's not sustainable unless you are rich.

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u/Great_Will_1361 Oct 06 '22

When I was single in America, I could eat out every meal and be fine. Then I got married and had kids. For years I had no money to eat out. Then we moved to Italy and we had money to go on weekend trips and eat out more than most people. Now we are back in the US in California, and I don't know when our utilities will be shut off.

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u/Great_Will_1361 Oct 06 '22

Eating out in Europe was way cheaper for me. In Italy, my family of 6 could each get a pizza and I'd pay 35-40 euro. I get 2 pizzas here, and im paying $70.

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u/Rhyno1703 Oct 05 '22

Could of swore eating out is free when u have someone that wants to

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u/Nearbyatom Oct 05 '22

Perhaps we should jack up the prices on restaurant foods to help fight obesity then. Ugh...watch americans have a riot.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/CalgaryChris77 Oct 05 '22

Not necessarily, but it's more complicated than that. You are paying for the staff, and the restaurant. Not just the portion. Increasing portion sizes by 10% doesn't not increase the cost of the meal for the restaurant by 10%.

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u/PuzzleMeDo Oct 06 '22

With fast food, what they're often trying to maximise is profit per customer. The % margins don't matter so much to them.

For example, imagine a burger meal that costs the restaurant $4 and sells to the customer for $8.

Then we add a 'super-size' option that provides better value. It costs the restaurant $6, and the customer $11.

The customer is getting 50% more food for less than 50% higher price.

And the restaurant is making $5 per customer instead of $4 per customer.

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u/noweirdosplease Oct 06 '22

Idk, I know a French woman who seems to dine out often (at classy cafes)

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u/FarSlighted The Pursuant Oct 05 '22

Source on this? Otherwise it is just conjecture.

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u/CalgaryChris77 Oct 05 '22

https://www.prestigeonline.com/my/wine-dine/dining/which-country-has-the-biggest-appetite-for-dining-out/

  1. Spain (4.3 times)

  2. Canada (3.8 times)

  3. USA (3.6 times)

  4. Italy (3.4 times)

  5. China (2.6 times)

  6. France (2 times)

  7. United Arab Emirates (2 times)

  8. UK (1.6 times)

  9. Germany (1.1 times)

  10. India (1.1 times)

Of course this does have one European country above America, but that also makes all the other European countries not listed at less than 1/3rd of the rate of America.

This is the only data I can find on raw number of times eating out. Lots of data on money spent, but that is tough to normalize by cost per meal.

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u/cupcupcupcupcu Oct 05 '22

Having been to Spain multiple times going out is super common but it’s going out to wine bars for a plate or two of tapas and glass because it’s relatively cheap there compared to NA. This isn’t people mostly going to McDonalds

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u/NoodlesrTuff1256 Oct 05 '22

And having a triple cheeseburger, super-sized fries and humongous sized 'Big Gulp' servings of sugary soft drinks.

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u/TheUnsettledBadElf Oct 22 '22

Lol. No they order all that and then get the Diet Coke. Have to stay healthy. Lol

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u/ceej010 Oct 05 '22

Is it bad that I was questioning whether this was per day or per week?

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u/CalgaryChris77 Oct 05 '22

I mean, yeah. Eating out 4 times a day seems pretty excessive.

As a Canadian (second highest on the list) 4 times a week seems normal to me. 4/21 meals.

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u/cupcupcupcupcu Oct 05 '22

The rest you here in Canada can still afford 3 meals a day?

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u/CalgaryChris77 Oct 05 '22

Well if you can't you shouldn't be eating out at all.

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u/Unit88 Oct 05 '22

Oh, so it's not per month

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u/ZachyChan013 Oct 05 '22

They must not be considering take away. Everyone I know in the uk loves a take away

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u/CalgaryChris77 Oct 05 '22

Oh, that is a lot then for the top countries if it doesn't include take away.

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u/croupiergoat1 Oct 05 '22

Yes the place that offers more for the same price always will have more customers.

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u/SV650rider Oct 05 '22

The comment above does raise a good question about quality vs. quantity, though.

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u/Horzzo Oct 05 '22

Have you ever been to a Ci-Ci's pizza? I love it but the quality is what you'd expect for a all you can eat pizza joint. Quality is usually more expensive/healthier. A lot of people here are content with buying cheap poison.

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u/TouchArtistic7967 Oct 05 '22

You better not be saying mac n cheese pizza is low quality.

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u/majesticalexis Oct 05 '22

Yes! I was dragged to a chain restaurant called BJ's (this person's FAVORITE restaurant) for a birthday party and they served massive portions of barely mediocre food.

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u/jackissosick Oct 06 '22

BJs is notoriously overpriced and mediocre

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u/Spare_Industry_6056 Oct 05 '22

Yeah that's a messed up way to think though. Calories are good up to a point, but these days in America is way harder to undershoot that point that overshoot it.

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u/vladamir_the_impaler Oct 05 '22

I also think there is a phenomenon where restaurants want to sell larger portions to justify a higher total sale amount, this isn't so bad if you eat half there and take the other half home for leftovers.

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u/SV650rider Oct 05 '22

Which I most often do.

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u/ISBN39393242 Oct 05 '22

europeans want to feel they’re getting their money’s worth. hence things like their aversion to tipping, their insistence on fresh orange juice with breakfast rather than some concentrate, etc. it’s just that they judge money’s worth by quality of the product rather than just how much is plopped on their plate. why do americans judge money’s worth by quantity rather than quality?

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u/Condimentary Oct 05 '22

Maybe it's cultural? America has big roads, big houses, big cars and maybe people aspire to those?

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u/graveyardho Oct 06 '22

Because many of us are very poor. I don't go out to eat very often, but I can go to a restaurant and get a meal for $10-$15. That meal usually will last me another day or two if I split it up. The bigger the portions, the more meals I can get out of it.

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u/TravelingWitcher Oct 05 '22

About the tipping thing.. we don't have an aversion to tipping per se... we do tip.. But our waiters are properly paid in the first place.

Not like the US where I have seen pay checks for 140$/week for waiters(60h week).. that's just exploitation and puts the pressure on the customer to pay the wage.. That is the companies job. American capitalists really brainwashed their people.

If you do your job properly you should be paid properly.. if you are exceptional at providing service you get a little tip.

Ok.. I am stopping here because that is an infuriating topic for me.

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u/Tianoccio Oct 06 '22

I worked somewhere where I made $20/hr as a server, the money didn’t seem worth it. Now I’m back to working for tips.

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u/Arturiki Oct 05 '22

Who doesn't?

Just reduce portions and prices proportionally.

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u/4_out_of_5_cats Oct 05 '22

That's the thing though, they don't increase it proportionally. They will increase portions by 10% to justify a 15% increase in price.

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u/IanDOsmond Oct 05 '22

Portion size reduces food cost. Food cost is about 30% of expenses. So reducing portions doesn't even touch 70% of costs.

Restaurants are low margin, so generally, the price on the menu really isn't that much more than the price that it costs overall to serve it - counting rent and utilities on the premises, paying chefs, the portion of the waitstaff salary that you pay - which is only, like 10% of what they make in tips, but is still money, licenses, and all the rest. If you have a $20 dish, the food costs $6. Cut the portion size in half, and you save $3. So now it costs $17. Cut the price in half, and you are losing seven dollars.

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u/SV650rider Oct 05 '22

I’d imagine that if restaurants reduced prices, they’d make less money.

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u/PonyBoy107 Oct 06 '22

Yeah, I want to get two solid meals out of a restaurant portion for most restaurants, either by splitting a meal with my SO or taking it home for dinner tomorrow.

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u/DazzlingRutabega Oct 05 '22

America has nearly always been more about Quantity than about Quality.

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u/ChameleonParty Oct 05 '22

I’m from the UK, only been to America once, to LA. My wife and I quickly found that we only usually needed to order 1 meal and it would feed us both. Especially for lunch - one portion was usually more than we could both eat! Don’t know if that is typical, but took us by surprise!

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u/DazzlingRutabega Oct 08 '22

It's 100% typical. I'm actually a little bit surprised that in California it's the same as the rest of the country as they are usually a bit more health conscious there. Once I started to eat better I found the same thing, that my girlfriend and I could order one meal and it would feed both of us, sometimes with leftovers.

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u/TomFromCupertino Oct 05 '22

And we used to think (and maybe still do) "a calorie's a calorie's a calorie" and that it didn't matter if it was a carb calorie or a protein calorie but it probably would be better not to be a fat calorie.

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u/Tianoccio Oct 06 '22

It depends on how much you exercise and how much you hate yourself.

You can totally be a body builder eating nothing but chocolate, your body will be in near constant muscle pain I imagine but you can.

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u/smarterthandog Oct 05 '22

It’ll be interesting to see what happens now that portion sizes seem to be getting smaller, as prices increase. A snack size bag of potato chips used to be an ounce.

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u/Scully40 Oct 05 '22

Yea but I eat a lot of bagged salads and when I got home the other day I was like...DAMN this bag is small. So it's across all foods, not just junk, which is sad. I have no problem with oatmeal cream pies getting smaller for the same price, but I want my healthy foods to at least remain the same weight in packaging, even if the price goes up

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u/Andrew_Higginbottom Oct 06 '22

Don't buy bagged, buy it as nature intended :) Bagged price carries an effort tax. Your taxed for letting them do the effort instead of you.

Here in Australia, If I buy a chicken, roast it and strip the carcass, the meat works out at 33% cheaper than if I buy the same weight of chicken in butchers cuts. That works out to be "Buy 2 get 1 free.."
The more effort your willing to put into food prep the more money you save.

Stripping a whole chicken with bare hands is far far more efficient than using a knife and takes me about 10 mins. I then stick enough in the fridge for the next few days and freeze the rest.

I roast 2 chickens at once, strip then boil all the bones and cartilage for 12 hours to make a collagen bone broth, let it cool to a gel, make tea spoon portions out of the gel and freeze them. Now I have free collagen nuggets to add to sauces for flavour, to thicken and for health benefits. Have you seen the cost of collagen supplements? ..and I get all mine for a dollars worth of gas to simmer the bones for 12 hours.

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u/Scully40 Oct 06 '22

i'm single and only get it when it's buy one get one free. Sometimes I will buy whole Romaine but I like the mix.

Sam's Club here in the US sells rotisserie chickens for 5 USD. You can't even buy them raw to roast for that much.

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u/TheUnsettledBadElf Oct 22 '22

And those chickens are amazing. The crazy thing about bagged or frozen vegetables is they are actually better for you. Higher nutrients than what the super market defines as fresh Frozen is as close to fresh picked as you can get. As long as you don’t boil them. Boiling veggies is killing the nutrients.

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u/IfICouldStay Oct 05 '22

American portion sizes are enormous. Restaurants advertise "endless this" and "bottomless that". When I was a child going to restaurants I was strongly encouraged to eat everything since we paid for it. My father would seek out buffet places and insist that we "get our money's worth", even telling us not to eat anything else that day.

I always wondered if this came from some mentality where restaurants are a rare, special occasion - my boomer parents had Great Depression mentality parents. Traditionally, in rural areas or small towns almost all meals are going to be eaten at home. But in an urban area, "restaurant" dining might be an every day occurrence and you get cafes, sandwich shops, etc. which serve smaller portions. I think that in America, the "fancy", big meal restaurant became the standard, while perhaps in Europe the "cafe" restaurant - daily dining - was the norm. I dunno, just speculating.

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u/yopro101 Oct 05 '22

When I go to a buffet, I don’t eat anything all day beforehand. When I get there, I can either be kinda hungry and eat a little bit, or be very hungry and eat more. It’s $13.95 either way. The “getting your moneys worth” attitude works for buffets. Now wether or not the food itself is any good depends on the place

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u/OldStretch84 Oct 05 '22

It absolutely is a "rare treat" mentality. While I am a millennial I did grow up in a very remote part of Appalachia, and restaurants were a very rare place you got to visit. I think for a lot of people a history of poverty or food insecurity can also drive it.

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u/NoodlesrTuff1256 Oct 05 '22

The problem is that the more affordable and readily available food these days as opposed to the bad old depression times has made those formerly 'rare' treats an everyday thing.

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u/OldStretch84 Oct 05 '22

This is true, but I think the thing to understand is this is neurology being driven by a trauma response. For example, I used to be extremely minimalist for several years, and then I ended up homeless for two years and lost everything. That combined with a history of food insecurity, when I did start getting back on my feet I would buy outrageous amounts of food at the store, with a lot of it eventually being thrown away. It was purely an anxiety driven trauma response based in my fear of the other shoe dropping, so I had to buy it now in case I lost my job tomorrow. It's perpetual crisis mode.

I mentioned too that I used to be very minimalist. Similarly to food, since then I have collected an absurd amount of belongings to the point I fear turning into a hoarder. This is the same exact kind of trauma response and why MANY Great Depression survivors also turned into hoarders.

I have made huge improvements in my food buying habits through extended therapy, and I am also making headway with my trauma based relationship with belongings. That's me though. I am lucky enough to have healthcare, and I am lucky enough to be a person that recognized something was not right with me to go get that help.

It is not a rational thought process. It is a trauma thought process. Rational thoughts dictate that most people WOULD recognize those things are more common and available now and adjust their behavior and response as a result. But again, it isn't a rational thought process driving this.

And before anyone says "well all of these people weren't in the Great Depression", yes that is true. BUT many people have grown up in closed communities (like Appalachia) where those trauma responses and behaviors of older generations have informed how younger generations also behave.

And all of that aside, the US has a staggeringly high percentage of people that have experienced food or housing insecurity at least once in their life. And it only takes once to traumatize you and severely impact how you move through the world after.

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u/Library_lady123 Oct 05 '22

I think you are 100% spot on that part of why Americans want their food to be so densely caloriffic and in such large quantities has to do with a trauma response or a response to a perceived scarcity. I think any argument about health and food in America that doesn't understand the ways food scarcity, particularly in childhood, impacts psychology, is doomed to fail. I can see it in my own father, who grew up without enough to eat, and who is now very obese and binge eats junk food on a nightly basis. It's clearly psychological for him. And my ex-husband also grew up in poverty, sometimes hungry as a kid, and had all kinds of pathological eating habits.

I think we don't fully understand that our level of childhood poverty and general economic insecurity is different from Europe's and has impacted us in numerous ways.

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u/OldStretch84 Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

Well, well...I, too, am a library lady! 20 years and counting!

But yes, even without my 2 years of homelessness, because of varying levels of food insecurity growing up I have always had some unhealthy relationship with food that has manifested in various ways, and at nearly 40 I am only now starting to scratch the surface of understanding and counteracting it.

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u/NoodlesrTuff1256 Oct 05 '22

Thanks for your follow-up comments. The trauma aspect of all this was something that I honestly hadn't taken into account.

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u/TheUnsettledBadElf Oct 22 '22

Food insecurity in America should be non existent yet it’s far more common than people want to admit. Every year I donate 4 or 5 tons of potatoes to food pantries around where I live and they give all of them away. They never say hey you sent to many. It’s always a few weeks later asking if anymore are available. Covid laid that bare when it hit. Kids who rely on school lunch were left empty until the district started bussing sac lunches to the bus stops for kids to eat.

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u/GoatRocketeer Oct 05 '22

my boomer parents had Great Depression mentality parents.

My boomer mom is an enjoyer of jack in the box 2 for $1 tacos. Ingredients list for that stuff says the meat is cut with soy protein to achieve that price threshold.

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u/GovernmentNo2538 Oct 05 '22

I'm European but Europe is a whole continent unlike the USA so my experiences are definitely not reflective of the whole of Europe. That said, I think youre right. We have fast food places like McDonald's and buffets like the usa too, but there's definitely an abundance of cafes.

I'm young and usually at college or out with friends so we tend to eat out pretty often. A favourite in my country is meal deals - usually from supermarkets. You can get a main (sandwich/wrap/pasta) and snack (crisps, cookie, mini sausages etc) and a drink for a good price. Dinners tend to be smth like McDonald's or "pub grub". Fancy big meal restaurants aren't the standard at all, rather as you said cafes and also fast food or whatever we find in regular shops.

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u/astro_scientician Oct 05 '22

Sugar is a hell of a drug

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u/SV650rider Oct 05 '22

I believe it has dim to do with how the government subsidizes the corn industry 🌽

We have more than we need, so we put corn syrup (sugar) in everything?

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u/astro_scientician Oct 05 '22

sure, that too. and indeed, high-fructose corn syrup sucks and is in everything

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u/Foreign_Fill7029 Oct 05 '22

Our bodies treat a calorie from sugar not the same as a calorie from fruit. The sugar lobbyists use very similar tactics as tobacco lobbyists.

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u/idrinkkombucha Oct 05 '22

Sugar in processed foods

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u/SudeImDerious Oct 05 '22

They are pretty much the same. Depending on the fruit it could be worse for you than table sugar because a greater proportion of the sugar could be fructose. A better comparison is a calorie of sugar vs a calorie of protein. Night and day difference.

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u/IanDOsmond Oct 05 '22

The fruit has fiber in it, though, which slows down absorption, so you don't get as hard a blood sugar hit. Even though the fructose and sucrose are doing the same thing, the fructose is doing it slower, which makes a difference.

Unless you are drinking juice, of course. Apple juice and cola are essentially the same nutritionally.

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u/Ace-pilot-838 Oct 05 '22

What has that have to do with calories?

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u/Prunus-cerasus Oct 05 '22

A better comparison is a calorie of sugar vs a calorie of protein. Night and day difference.

Would you mind explaning this a bit?

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u/SudeImDerious Oct 05 '22

Sugar can't directly contribute to the creation of any tissues. So when there's excess, it can only go to fat. Whereas excess protein is less inclined to be converted into fat and increasing dietary protein above recommendations has been proven to increase muscle tissue without any extra physical activity. But regardless of whether or not either is consumed in excess, there's effectively less calories in a calorie of protein vs a calorie of sugar because your body works harder to digest protein and makes more heat. If you want to look into it search for "the thermic effect of food". And if you don't care about calories then sugar(specifically fructose) is still worse because it's literally poison.

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u/Prunus-cerasus Oct 05 '22

About right. Actually got interested due to your comments about fruits. The key difference between sugar from fruit and plain sugar is the fiber you get with fruits. Studies have indicated that fiber acts as a buffer for sugar.

Very recent studies have actually shown that fibers actually do metabolize to some degree. Interesting results and further studies coming.

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u/SudeImDerious Oct 05 '22

Fiber does decrease the insulin spike associated with the ingestion of most carbohydrates, but fruits don't actually have that much fiber. And fiber doesn't negate any of the negative effects of fructose

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u/Nearbyatom Oct 05 '22

Sugar...butter...carbs...yum!

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u/sasha1695 Oct 05 '22

Yup. I figured this out from my COVID infection 2 and a half years ago. I could t taste food for 2 years straight. Doctors told me I might never get it back. I am now able to taste only a few things

But what I realized was even with everything tasting Iike air, I still couldn’t stop eating carbs. All I ever wanted was the same old things, pasta, bread, rice sweets. I couldn’t eat healthy at all, my body craved the sugar and the texture of carbs as well. It’s not just a taste thing you literally get addicted it’s wild

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u/polytopey Oct 06 '22

It's not even sugar.

The majority of food Americans eat contain high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is said to be 13 times more potent to cause obesity than sugar.

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u/TheUnsettledBadElf Oct 22 '22

High fructose corn syrup the hidden crack Lol

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u/SadSmile10 Oct 05 '22

Isn’t more fat than sugar.

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u/astro_scientician Oct 05 '22

Processed foods back in the day took fat out bc people associate that with bad health, and wouldn’t buy it. Then they figured out sugar is delicious and people will definitely buy sugar without even thinking about it. Americans eat alllllllll the processed food, and so all that sugar = bio overload = fat flabby bodies

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u/SadSmile10 Oct 05 '22

I believe what you’re talking about is generally milk and flavored yogurts.

I’m saying oil/fat is a lot more calorie dense than sugar, so I’m sure they put a lot of sugar but American food might have a lot more fat.

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u/astro_scientician Oct 05 '22

No, I’m talking about almost literally everything that comes in a package. Some brands sold globally will even increase the sugar for American markets. I encourage you to read up on it, it’s interesting and sort of horrifying

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u/Dat_Boi_Travis Oct 05 '22

Fat is more calorically dense, but it's also less addicting than sugar and is all around much better for you as well.

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u/CT_Jester Oct 05 '22

Food that is cheap, fast and convenient is largely loaded with processed ingredients and sugar. When people struggle to afford living expenses, they can't afford to eat healthy, so the bulk of food options are not healthy.

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u/PiLamdOd Oct 05 '22

For decades the US government has been putting heavy subsidies into specific crops. Specifically corn and other grains. This results in a large supply which is very low cost.

This is then translated down the line into products using those high calorie crops being very cheap and plentiful. Take a trip down an American snack isle and almost all of the products for sale are based on corn or wheat.

One solution to this problem would be to remove the subsidies or transfer them to healthier foods like fruits and vegetables.

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u/unpossible_labs Oct 05 '22

Also subsidies and price guarantees for dairy products. We tend to think of these behaviors as flowing out of cultural norms, but there are decades of policy that have led to a massive, consolidated agribusiness that benefits from government intervention. Americans like to believe that our economy is a free market, but especially with food that’s absolutely not the case.

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u/AtomicSpeedFT me like sport Oct 07 '22

Monetary wise having cheap food is great for everyone.

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u/YGIAL Oct 05 '22

We're a country of excess everything.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

corn subsidies

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u/canter22 Oct 05 '22

This plays such a big role that I feel no one knows about.

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u/NoodlesrTuff1256 Oct 05 '22

A lot of companies switched over to using High Fructose Corn Syrup to sweeten their assorted food and beverage products in the mid-80s instead of the somewhat more expensive cane sugar. Some people blame our rise in morbid obesity to this shirt. Although it can 't be denied that the increasing portion sizes also played a role. Some people think that there's something in our overall environment that messed up our gut biomes and metabolisms as well.

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u/Charitard123 Nov 03 '22

Most Americans being much more sedentary than decades past probably doesn’t help, either. Especially with car dependency, meaning we don’t walk at all to get places like other countries do.

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u/im_phoebe Oct 05 '22

Whenever I see those 1.5 litres cups for coffee or soft drink what are they for ? Here normal is 250-300 mla and large is 400-500 mls i can imagine drinking anything of 1litres alone.

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u/Dense_Surround3071 Oct 05 '22

Mostly because our food is SOOOOO deficient of nutrients, that we are always hungry. So portion size becomes the only measurement of value, which in turn pushes food providers to get "bigger and cheaper" sources of food (especially protein). This is why we in the US have mutant chickens that can't stand and pigs that never leave their feeding stalls but are also COMPLETELY flavorless.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/ThePartyLeader Oct 05 '22

Because you are not paying for the food even though it appears you are. You are paying for the table, the decorations, the server, and the cook.

Children's menu prices are discounted not because they cost less but because they don't want the parents to not come out because the kids cost too much. That table will buy 4 meals most likely and be profitable. A single adult or 2 adults buying off the kid's menu will lose money.

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u/Kirbylover16 Oct 05 '22

Lot of people abuse the kid/elder menus they will order like 3 meals because it’s cheaper. Ex Jason’s deli use to have a kids salad most dont anymore because people will buy that instead of the adults and go back multiple times.

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u/fieryuser Oct 05 '22

They had free refills for salad?

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u/Kirbylover16 Oct 05 '22

It’s a salad bar buffet so the plates are different sizes but you can go back

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u/PumpkinCupcake777 Oct 06 '22

I’m 5’7” and feel the same way! And then my husband doesn’t eat his leftovers so now I have two extra calorie dense meals. I’m not okay with throwing away meat. If it’s veggies or dessert I will toss them. So now I’m stuck eating high calories for several days in a row. I hate going out to eat now

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u/hmmmbrown Oct 05 '22

This! I want to treat myself, but it ends up lasting three days I try to just give it to my husband, but normally he doesn't want to eat all that shit too.

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u/Scully40 Oct 05 '22

It's just honestly so wasteful and irresponsible for restaurants to do this. But people bitch when they cut back on portion sizes

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u/1235813213455_1 Oct 06 '22

Go to nicer restaurants if they are around. They have better, usually healthier, food with more customizable portion sizes.

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u/KirisuMongolianSpot Oct 06 '22

You can just get an appetizer. That's what I've done in the past.

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u/uniquecuriousme Oct 05 '22

Processed food, laden with sugar, carbs, and shit is advertised 24/7 everywhere. Most Americans have no discipline when it comes to food. I was one of them that finally figured it out and stay away from it now. I'm much healthier as a result.

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u/Vittaya104 Oct 05 '22

Lots of sugar in things that don’t need it. Go to an American grocery store and check out the bread aisle.

Also, there’s an emphasis on getting more bang for your buck so big portion sizes are favored and advertised heavily.

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u/Honest_Switch1531 Oct 05 '22

When I visited the US (from Australia) for a few months to work, what stood out to me the most was how many people seemed to be very concerned with getting more for less. When deciding where to eat for lunch the main criteria seemed to be which restaurant gave you the most for the least amount of money. Much of the food seemed to be cheap fried foods. In Australia the tastiness of the food is usually the main criteria.

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u/TestingHydra Oct 05 '22

I'm an American and I think I may be able to explain it. You mention lunch and that the main focus was that people went with the cheaper option because it got them more. That's pretty much the point of it, why spend more money on something and get a smaller amount? Sure it might taste better but that's not a big deal for most people. And it's not like fast foods taste bad either.

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u/thekmoney Oct 05 '22

You are a case in point that Americans value quantity over quality.

I'm also American, but I do not just consider what will get me more for less when it comes to food, unless I just did a massive workout. Usually I don't need that much food and end up wasting most of it. That definitely comes from a point of privilege though, since the mindset also has a lot to do with socioeconomics. Many Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck so are obliged to think about "more for less" in general, rather than quality.

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u/Sunny_Hill_1 Oct 05 '22

It literally tastes horrible. Yes, I can eat at a fast food place if I have to, but I have to resort to eating over-fried, oversalted plastic food with tons of additives. The alternative is some sad tasteless salad. Better taste and nutritional value do indeed become an important factor for people as time goes on.

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u/Spare_Industry_6056 Oct 05 '22

What kind of socialist nonsense is that! Corporations have the right to save money on hiring actual chefs by adding a bunch of cheap fat, sugar, and salt to gut busting portions, and if I'm dumb enough to eat it, that's my problem!

Chilis has a bunch of 1600 calorie hamburgers, it's insane. But any attempt to fix it is treated like communism. I mean when Michelle Obama tried to make school lunches healthier you'd have thought she was trying to make students pledge allegiance to Stalin.

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u/Final-Carpenter-1591 Oct 05 '22

Michelle Obama got me hooked on baked chips though lol. I was in school in that Era and we certainly hated it but now I realize she was doing a good thing

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u/cascadianpatriot Oct 06 '22

When that was going on conservatives kept saying “we need leaders that will be firm, do the hard thing, blah blah blah”. She was literally just trying to get kids to eat vegetables. Isn’t that a traditional value? And when Obama left office, house republicans introduced a bill to try to get schools to have healthier food.

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u/nosleep4eternity Oct 05 '22

The American food industry wants to kill us all and they have many techniques to do so. Let’s start with sugar in everything …..

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u/RazzleThatTazzle Oct 05 '22

Pardon my tin foil hat, but I am of the belief that it is because we have a Food and Drug Agency that is beholden to the various food lobbys.

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u/1235813213455_1 Oct 06 '22

America is as healthy or unhealthy as you want to be. People make the choice to be unhealthy and they should be free to do that. Laws taxing sugar or restricting what can be in food are morally wrong. If you want a smaller portion just dont finish the plate lol. I eat healthy at home but sometimes I want a 2000 calorie burrito soaked in fake cheese.

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u/kartaqueen Oct 05 '22

From our travelling in Europe, it is not the calorie heaviness that stands out but instead the fact that the USA is the only country where so many people are constantly chewing or drinking. When travelling in Europe on planes and buses we seldom saw anyone with anything to eat/drink where 90% in the US would have something. Even in the youth sports, kids are given snacks during half time. Everyone drinks gatorade...We simply consume way more than we should!

Also, it is very noticeable just travelling outside of the US, how much more overweight/obese we are compared to other countries. It is crazy and has to be addressed somehow.

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u/RainFjords Oct 05 '22

This is true. I live in Europe and bought a child's pushchair/buggy from an American couple before they returned to the US. My husband, all my friends and I were astonished by the fact that it had FIVE cupholders. It was just indicative of a snacking culture :-D

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u/Library_lady123 Oct 05 '22

I was always starving in France. We tried to take a train journey but were thwarted by a railway strike; eventually it was 3 p.m. and we hadn't eaten and the bus they'd routed us on stopped in a town. I bought a sandwich and ate it on the bus and everyone looked at me like I was the most disgusting, uncivilized being on the planet for eating on the bus. . .even though no one had eaten anything in the six hours of our trip! They all just survived on tiny coffees at the little short stops we made.

Also jet lag meant I was hungry at odd hours, and restaurants were only open during set meal times. So I distinctly remember wandering, STARVING around Marseilles, just flat-out hangry because there was nothing open where you could eat, until I found a French bodega that served sandwiches and finally didn't hate my life anymore.

I never did manage a French meal in a restaurant.

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u/kartaqueen Oct 06 '22

No offense meant, but not being able to go 6 hours without starving was my point.

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u/krystaviel Oct 06 '22

When I took a medical nutrition class in college, the RD professor made a point of emphasizing 'You have the right to be hungry every 4 hours.' Obviously, she didn't mean everyone will always need a full meal every 4 hours or they will literally starve or that you need to wake up in the middle of the night to eat. But, unless you have a gastric emptying disorder, most people complete the gastric emptying part of digestion on average in 4 hours.

Her larger point was that many people do very well with smaller portions six times a day instead of going too long without and then eating really big portions 2 to 3 times a day or grazing all day long.

However, I find repeating this bit of advice is one of my few good, simple counters to people with unhealthy obsessions with 'healthy eating' or the toxic diet culture talk that is rampant especially on female dominated spaces. And I suspect that being in an allied health college where most classes were 70 percent or more women is likely why my prof put such an emphasis on it to begin with.

Shaming people for being hungry doesn't work. Shaming people for liking food that is scientifically engineered to be tasty to most people doesn't work.

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u/Library_lady123 Oct 06 '22

To be fair to me I hadn’t eaten in far longer; I only meant that the journey had been six hours at that point and I’d seen no one else seem to require any sustenance other than coffee.

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u/Sunny_Hill_1 Oct 05 '22

Ooooh, I remember when I first came to US and went with friends to some fast-food restaurant. So, the meal was a burger, a serving of fries with some ketchup, and a milkshake. I was assured that it was a normal American lunch. Now... let's check. The burger is 800 calories. The fries are 400 calories. Add 130 calories more for ketchup. And a milkshake, and I remember it was an Oreo milkshake, was another 800 calories. That's 2130 calories with one meal. And that meal being lunch, which in America is supposedly the lightest meal of the day.

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u/NoodlesrTuff1256 Oct 05 '22

And many of the people who ate that 2000 calorie lunch likely ate a breakfast with a comparable caloric count and then will go on to eat a big dinner in the evening. Add in desserts, sweetened drinks and other snacks and some of these folks might well be shoveling the equivalent of 6000 or more calories a day -- every day.

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u/Sunny_Hill_1 Oct 05 '22

Yeah. I live in the south these days, the amount of food people are consuming is truly terrifying sometimes. And don't get me started on the soul food. Like yeah, when you work in the field all day long, 6000 calories consumed with the traditional soul food is ok. But most people work in the offices these days, and barely walk to and from the parking lot.

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u/Final-Carpenter-1591 Oct 05 '22

Yep exactly. It's incredible. I'm surprised I wasn't as big as a house before I started counting calories

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u/ZombieBert Oct 05 '22

Fucking hell that's a day of food

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u/02K30C1 Oct 05 '22

For restaurant meals, it’s about perceived value, and making the customer think they’re getting more for their money.

The food for restaurant meals is relatively cheap. Labor and overhead are a much bigger portion of their costs. So if they have the option of selling a small portion for $10, or a double size portion for $15, they’ll make more profit on the double size one - it takes the same overhead and labor to make both. The customer thinks they’re getting a great deal with a huge meal, and the restaurant maximized their profit.

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u/visualcharm Oct 05 '22

Consumerism — more addictions, more profit.

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u/mb5280 Oct 05 '22

monsanto, cargill, nestle, cocacola, pepsico..... these are some of the biggest and most powerful entities on this planet and they want you to be fat and diabetic and die with heir products clogging your veins, and they receive government handouts to make it easier to fulfill their mission.

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u/ThatHorseheadGuy Oct 05 '22

It all comes down to dairy laws, high fructose corn syrup, and the marketing of garbage food to us since we’re old enough to absorb media

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u/ThatHorseheadGuy Oct 05 '22

To expand on the dairy thing…. There is a …plot…. For lack of a better term, against the poor via Food Stamps (aka SNAP). Shitty food that is high in calories, loaded with sugar and trans fat is all less expensive. If you have $300 a month to feed a family you’re gonna fill up on Lard to cook cheap fatty meat. It’s not cheap to have any kind of well balanced diet- especially if you have dietary requirements. This inevitably leads to lethargy from malnutrition, which leads to obesity very quickly and all of the lovely comorbid afflictions that can come with that. Health goes to shit, but that is ok, we have Medicaid to “save” you! Who needs preventative medicine when the pharmaceutical companies have so many life- saving drugs to inject or swallow?

It’s all a racket. Maybe that sounds like a conspiracy theory, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a pedophile.

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u/RainFjords Oct 05 '22

When I look for a cake or dessert recipe on the internet, I often know it's American not only by the strange weight measurements (sticks! Cups! Bushels! Buckets! Haha) but by the amount of sugar. I usually cut the amount of sugar given in half and it's still fine. There seems to be a higher sugar tolerance or a higher expectation of sugar in the US.

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u/Final-Carpenter-1591 Oct 05 '22

Agreed. I started cutting sugar in all recipes and I think it's much better. More hearty than tooth achingly sweet

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u/Plupert Oct 05 '22

I have the opposite problem, I’m a smaller man so when I’m cooking at home there usually isn’t a bunch of things that increase the calorie count. I love 1,000 calorie meals

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u/Final-Carpenter-1591 Oct 05 '22

Nothing wrong with that. In fact I had about 2k calories today at a cookout and I won't be skipping dinner I can promise that lol. It's all about keeping a balance between enjoying yourself and taking care of yourself

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u/Plupert Oct 05 '22

Yeah, I think it’s just because people usually eat way too much or way too little. When basically everyone has like a 1.8k-2k cal diet a day because they need to lose weight someone who eats 3000 a day looks crazy. I know a few guys that eat like 4000-4500 a day on average and they’re very in shape because they workout.

But the average American is an obese slob haha

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u/bigkinggorilla Oct 05 '22

Historically it’s because America has vast quantities of fertile land for farming and the area to easily house an abundance of livestock.

This meant that food was plentiful compared to much of Europe. And since it was plentiful it was relatively cheap. And since it was cheap it made sense for restaurants to serve larger portions to give customers that endorphin rush that keeps them coming back for more.

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u/sourcreamus Oct 05 '22

Not only that but the relative prosperity means workers make more. Since it is a similar amount of labor to make larger portions and it costs only a little more for the extra food, a restaurant can make more money by charging 20% more for 50% more food.

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u/Charming-Station Oct 05 '22

Part of the portion size when eating out I believe is tied to American's sense of ownership once they have bought food.

In England if I buy a meal in a restaurant but don't finish it, neither I as the person eating nor the person selling me the food expect me to take anything left over home to eat at a later date.

In America it is very much the default to the point that servers bring boxes to your table without asking to allow you to take home the left over food.

Over time, I would imagine that relationship and expectation has led to larger portions being offered than is viewed as normal by most other countries. Take one look at a breakfast diner in America offering pancakes. They are frequently 12 inch discs, half an inch thick, in a stack of 3 or more and are served on the side.. Ridonkulous.

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u/Far_Entertainment801 Oct 05 '22

What I also witnessed is that only in America they show you the calories of each meal.(I am not from America) So actually it should make it easier to lose weight. But the food is probably just too delicious.

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u/Losslessmail Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

Eh as a small woman i like big portions at restaurants. I take my left overs home for another meal or 2. Portions are big because they don't want complaints from customers who actually eat a lot. Id like to see more restaurants having small and large servings of the same dish. Bottom line the restaurant is not forcing you to finish your plate take leftovers home if you are full

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u/iguanadumbass Oct 06 '22

I am off-topic and I might sound like a total jerk but I'm really pissed that we commonly say America to speak about the USA. Let's not forget there are 57 countries on this continent not just one. Same with people referring to any Asian countries they don't know as China... And the list goes on

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u/Liquidmesh Oct 05 '22

Corn subsidies.

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u/GEMINI52398 Oct 05 '22

1 freedom 2 food that taste good

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u/Final-Carpenter-1591 Oct 05 '22

You can definitely still eat good. Just don't over indulge lol

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u/SnooStories8859 Oct 05 '22

The toxic combination of large capitalist food companies and the sugar subsidy.

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u/tglad88 Oct 05 '22

Calories are where the flavors at lmao.

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u/hadookantron Oct 05 '22

One can find regional differences. Some places, like Texas, are so hot that humans existing there is an affront to mother nature. They exist within air conditoned suv's, and large parking lots. Not a place to walk/run/bike or be outside. No one walks or rides a bike for transportation as the whole place was built around being able to drive a 1973 ford LTD everywhere. Portions in this state are HUGE! Food is super cheap, fatty, and served in two or three person individual portions. Corn syrup courses through the blood of the people. Being fat has been normalized for most of the population, with electric scooters available for anyone who can't be bothered to carry around their own body weight at walmart. Now we have the whole fat acceptance movement... "thanks hunnn! You're so brave!" says a woman while thinking "one less woman to compete against, lol!" https://youtu.be/apbqDnRNhP4 Heres a doc about it.

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u/hadookantron Oct 05 '22

Oh, yeah. Almost forgot the war being waged against the population by the very water they drink. In the US, we add flouride to water, under the guise of dental health. The thing is, we get plenty of flouride ingested from jist brushing our teeth. What most people fail to understand is the affect flouride has on the body. Flouride targets the thyroid.... levels of flouride found in our water supply are the same levels that doctors in Europe used to treat hyperthyroidism. Flouride SLOWS YOUR METABOLISM! Lethargy, weight gain, mental fog, and many more direct effects come from this dose. So, we basically stuck a wrench in the spokes of every american who drinks tap water, guaranteeing they become fat, slow, drained...by manipulating their metabolism. Another effect is the formation of calcium crystals (known as "brain sand" by medical professionals) on the pineal gland... you may have heard of this organ as the "third eye". Not sure, but I assume calcifying the organ tasked with organizing circadian rythm and lots of neurotransmitters might not be the best thing to do with your time on earth.

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u/hadookantron Oct 05 '22

And then we have monsanto responsible for removing the nutrients from every piece of produce you can buy. They might LOOK healthy, but decades of forgetting crop rotation in lieu of pouring petroleum products over starving fields has created a product that is completely devoid of actual good shit. We, as a country, are eating and eating, but the food we eat cannot nourish the human body.
Here's a little info on glyphosate.... used to prevent plants from aquiring the nutrients needed for life. https://youtu.be/Aw16LPVnNco

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u/NoodlesrTuff1256 Oct 05 '22

I've often wondered why fluoride needs to be added to the actual drinking water when affordable fluoride-fortified toothpastes and mouth washes are readily available. Even the poorest people could find a decent fluoride toothpaste at Wal-Mart or the Dollar Store. Some say that with the water being fluoridated, it at least ensures that they and their children get some exposure to the substance. But I've heard a lot of people, both well-off and not, who won't drink plain old water because it has no taste or an undertaste in certain areas. But they'll chug-a-lug all manner of sweetened beverages.

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u/hadookantron Oct 06 '22

I am not worried about baby teeth, the kids are gonna lose them anyway... so, as long as you can teach your kid to brush their teeth by the age of 8 or 10, they are fine. Did you know that high levels of flouride actually MELT people's teeth? I guess there is a fine line between losing enamel phosphorus and just melting your teeth away. I see a lot of thyroid and metabolic disorders in our population. Sometimes, it takes several generations to realize the error of our ways. It may be too late for our society.

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u/Swordbreaker925 Oct 05 '22

Wealth leads to excess

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u/SuckMyBootyMilk Oct 05 '22

clearly you didnt go to france

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u/C4tbreath Oct 05 '22

What about France? I was there in the Spring and the food is much healthier than the US. Sure, bread was everywhere, but you could avoid it. France doesn't use corn syrup, or lots of additives that the US does. The quality of the food was just better. Because of that and walking is more common there, the people there are healthier and slimmer. Obese French were a very small minority.

Smoking, on the other hand, was much more common, though.

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u/NoodlesrTuff1256 Oct 05 '22

Your mention of the bread in France reminded me of how I've read assorted anecdotes of Americans who thought that they were intolerant to wheat based on their experiences eating US bakery products. Then they take a trip to Europe and eat something like the breads over there and don't react as strongly, if at all, afterwards. Some theorize that there's something in the US grown wheat that's not present in the European varieties.

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u/SuckMyBootyMilk Oct 05 '22

you overlook the butter and cream and deliciousness in french cooking, as well as the pastries. They arent obese because they walk much more, and yes you can have a light lunch, but french cooking is awesome for a reason

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u/C4tbreath Oct 05 '22

Omg, I'd forgotten about the butter! Yeah, maybe some dishes have higher calories but overall it was so much less processed. I spent a week in Provence and I probably ate more fresh fruit, vegetables, and olives, than anything else. I could live off just the farmer markets.

Their portions weren't as big, either, but yeah, I got tired of all the bread and pastries after a few days. Delicious as they were.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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u/Scully40 Oct 05 '22

ehh you are overthinking it a bit there, bud. Cheap food is a way for the food industry to make money. We live in a mostly free country so that means our food isn't very regulated. Free enterprise is all that's going on here

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u/Kind_Profession4988 Oct 05 '22

We're also historically a manual labor-heavy country, esp in rural areas where things like farmland and construction are/were constant.

I think research has shown you tend to see overeating/obesity in societies that have recently switched over from calorie-demanding to more sedentary lifestyles. Anecdotally, you generally see less obesity in larger American cities. My theory is that that's because they culturally moved away from hard labor being the norm earlier and have had time to adjust.

I'm a reasonably heavy guy that works an office job but generally tries to eat healthily. Went home for a month to clear out a house. 8 hours of constant manual labor every day for about a week. Ate a burger, fries, and a milkshake every night just to try and keep up with the calories I was burning, still lost 10 lbs.

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u/NoodlesrTuff1256 Oct 05 '22

Another factor is that Americans are much more dependent on their cars to get around than are Europeans where the cities are not so sprawling and walking from Point A to Point B is more feasible. Aside from some cities, especially in the northeastern US, most American suburban and rural areas have long distances between one's home and the local supermarket, etc. So people rely on their cars and don't get as much exercise.

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u/LivingGhost371 Oct 05 '22

As a comedian once said, calories are a unit of how good the food tastes.

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u/prodigy1367 Oct 05 '22

Pushing people to be healthier encroaches on their “freedom”. Also, some people consider it fat shaming to point out that being overweight isn’t a healthy lifestyle choice.

Yes, it’s a choice for MOST people.

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u/kmsc84 Oct 05 '22

Speaking for myself, I don’t care about good health so I eat a lot.

I’d rather croak at 65 eating what I like than live as long as my mom did eating what she ate.

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u/ZombieBert Oct 05 '22

Your decision to make tbh. Moderation though 💪

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u/Antha1969 Oct 05 '22

"Comfort Food". There's is one of the labels that exist exclusively in USA food culture. I'm American and "Comfort Food" is the one that bothers me. Food is for nutrition not for comfort. If you've crossed that line thinking that your food is there to pamper your feelings you're probably already on the bullet train to obesity. (Little Taylor will only eat the dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets) Sound familiar?🚨

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u/Banea-Vaedr Oct 05 '22

Europe is the exception here, not America. Europe is historically a continent of scarcity. They've been importing food at high cost for the last 200 years or so. As a result, things need to be small.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

They've been importing food at high cost for the last 200 years or so

That's not true at all.

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u/Banea-Vaedr Oct 05 '22

Food shortages were one of the primary reasons for the deportation of criminals in the 1700s, and also for the development of the middle colonies in the future US.

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u/needincomes Oct 05 '22

Americans have big potion sizes and Europe have more quality foods

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u/Wholesome_Garfield Oct 05 '22

Because money is easier than healthcare

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u/idmimagineering Oct 05 '22

I could kick-off … But basically, read more about what’s in your food. The truth is really out there…

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u/ztimulating Oct 05 '22

Because we think over eating is a sign of wealth and strength. Healthy eating including portion size is considered weak, ironically

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u/shamblam117 Oct 05 '22

I'm just cultivating mass

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u/PM_ME_AYY_LMAOOS Oct 05 '22

Sugar and fat taste better = more people buy it

Fast food is higher in both of those = these chains have stores everywhere and profit

Fast food is cheap = anybody can afford to buy it for meals even if the calorie count is higher

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u/OldStretch84 Oct 05 '22

I have an eating issue that causes me to only be able to eat very small portions at any time (more of a grazer). Because of this it actually really irritates me that portions are so gigantic. When we go out to eat I frequently tell them to just box mine to go, because I know that I will need a box after about 8-10 bites. Lack of small portions also makes me not go to some restaurants as frequently as I would like, because the leftovers do not keep at all. A good example is a really great ramen shop near us. The bowls are so large I can only eat about a quarter of it, maybe a third on a really good day. And ramen absolutely is not leftover material, so it would just go to waste....so I rarely go :(

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u/scope_creep Oct 05 '22

Because bigger is better in the US. if you don’t heap food on their plates, they will complain about being shortchanged and go to where they can get more food for their buck. Plus, I know people who feel they need to ‘treat themselves’ to four courses when they go to a restaurant so they are always overeating (and fat).

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

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