Why is America getting Bigger?

That's a lot of food!!

Next time you are walking through the mall I want you to take a look around. Take note of the size of people from children to adults. Do this for about 5 minutes because that's enough of a sample size for you tomake the observation. How many people who you see would you consider overweight and even worse how many do you see that you would consider obese. After the 5 minutes is up I guarantee you will not believe what you are seeing or won't believe that you hadn't noticed the amount of us that are simply bigger than we should be. It is flat-out mind-boggling and honestly a little scary. Now this is of course unless you work for a health insurance company which at this point you know your job security has never been better.

So why are people so overweight? Is it lack of exercise? I believe that's definitely part of it since exercise is definitely important for keeping weight down. Is it the types of foods we eat? Again another reason for being overweight is the types of foods we eat namely foods high in calories, fat, and sugar. However one of the big reasons I believe is the size of the food and drink portions that Americans are consuming.

When you go out to eat and order today have you ever noticed how much food that you get as a result. For example let's say you go to everyone's favorite McDonald's for lunch. You order the Big Mac meal medium size with a coke to drink. Now you may think there is nothing too bad about this it's just a Big Mac meal with a medium fries and drink. How's this any different from when I've ordered it before. Well the Big Mac hasn't changed much since it was introduced, but the fries and drink have.  What used to be a medium drink and fries is now a small. What used to be a large, is now a medium. They also used to offer a Super Size option which is just well you know BIGGG. Now if you are to eat just the medium size big Mac meal from McDonald's and drink just 1 of the 21 oz Coca Colas you will consume 1150 calories. One meal 115o calories and most American's eat 3 meals a day and about 1.5 snacks. The average american eats about 2600 calories a day. The average ADULT american is closer to 2900 calories a day. Unless you work out a lot, or are an athlete, an adult male needs around 2500 calories and an adult female about 2100 calories. These figures are about and will depend on body type and exercise, but they are close if you do exercise just a few times a week. It's not just McDonald's though it's pretty much everywhere. Burger King used to offer a Quad Stacker. Thankfully they got rid of this mammoth sandwich and now just offer the triple stacker LOL. Let's just say the Quad Stacker was close to the calories in the full Big Mac meal on its own. My brother and I tried to eat one together just to try it. We eat relatively healthy so this was a bigger task than expected. The Quad Stacker won the fight as we couldn't finish it being a little overwhelmed and quite nauseous.

It's not just fast food restaurants though it's almost every restaurant. Now there are tens of thousands of restaurants out there and I don't pretend to know the menus for all of them. What I do know is that when I order a meal I often can get at least 2 sides with it. That is anything from a salad and fries to rice and steamed broccoli. You add the sandwich, steak, pasta, or whatever the main dish is and you are working on a good size meal. Now let's say there are 4 of you and as a table you order an appetizer and dessert. Most appetizers aren't healthy and on top of that are quite large, a meal in their own right. You already know what options you are looking at for dessert. I don't know of too many deserts that aren't rich in sugar and calories. Even if you eat one-fourth of each of these items, that's like adding a calorie rich third side to your meal. If you eat the meal, you have now consumed a main course and roughly three sides. Oh and I forgot the drink. If it's a soft drink well make it four sides. If you get a refill GASP...five sides. That is a lot of food for one sitting. Let's be generous and say each side is 200 calories and the main course is 500 calories. That's 1500 calories in one meal. Even if our next two meals are smaller meals at 750 calories, and we eat nothing else, we are at 3000 calories for the day. This isn't a fantasy world this is well beyond what most of us need.

It's not just restaurants that serve large portions. Another more common place is right in your own home. Americans love to cook. How many shows on television are about food? In fact there is a whole network that is all about food. We like to learn about food, we like to cook food, and we like to eat food. When we are at home and we make a meal we are often cooking for multiple people. What we make sure of is that there is enough food to go around and then some. We as Americans often don't want to waste much food, so we try to eat as much of it as we can. I'm sure we've all heard this from our parents. "Eat everything on your plate, then you can get up from the table." Unfortunately today, everything on your plate is often enough for 2 people. If you eat like this continuously your body gets used to consuming large portions of food, your stomach expands, and it's easier to continue eating the large portions. The result for most is a gain in weight and pant size.

So what should we do. First you need to recognize how much you are eating at each meal. Is it similar to the scenario's I explained.  If so then unless you are in training for the Olympics you don't need this much food. Next is to learn and eat smaller portions per sitting. It will be tough to do at first but you will get used to it trust me. Here are a few things that will help in fighting the food portions.

1. At home don't serve at the table. Have people serve themselves at the counter. People tend to serve themselves less and getting seconds isn't as common since it's not right in front of you.

2. Don't order appetizers or dessert at a restaurant. The main course is plenty.

3. Split meals at the restaurant. My wife and I often get a main course together and maybe an extra salad to go along with it. This saves us two things...calories and $$$.

4. Skip the soda, beer, or alcohol..drink tea or even better H2O instead. Soft drinks often come in large quantities at restaurants. Again the result bing less calories and $$$.

5. Try and eat a little slower (something I have trouble with). Once you start feeling full slow down even more. You will notice that you won't need to eat much more and will eat less as a result.

6. If you eat your own meal ,plan on having leftovers. Wether at home or a restaurant, if you plan on leftovers then you will make sure that you don't consume the entire meal. Besides it can save you cooking again and makes for a good size meal in the future.

7. Eat 3 smaller portioned meals and 2 small snacks throughout the day. This will keep you feeling comfortably full and energized throughout the day.

8. Brush your teeth immediately after you eat. This will keep you from going after dessert or more food since you don't want to eat after you brushed.

9. Measure your portions.It may not be easy, but to eat smaller sizes, you may need to measure your portions. If you are at a restaurant, eat approximately what you think would be the right portion, and take the rest home. If you aren't sure then make a fist and eat roughly that much food.

10. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise. This will boost your metabolism and help your body run smoother. Also when exercising your body will consume more of the calories you intake. Most importantly though most people when exercising focus more on what and how much they are eating.

I can't make the restaurants serve smaller portions and I can't be in everyone's kitchen making sure they eat the proper amount. What I can do is give you the basic information and let you decide if this is something you need to change. I hope this helps one person out there. To a healthy lifestyle!