I recently spent a year at an American university. America has a reputation for being one of the fattest countries in the world, and I was worried about putting on weight while I was there. Unfortunately, I did end up putting on some kilos (or “pounds” as Americans say). Here’s why:
1. Portion sizes.
Are the plates bigger in America, or do they just fit more on the plate? I still don’t know the answer to that. Portion sizes are definitely a lot bigger than in Australia. At first, you can’t eat all of the food you’ve been given. As time goes on, you feel bad for leaving food on your plate, so you learn to eat it all. I swear that my stomach expanded in the US.
2. Meal prices.
EVERYTHING IS CHEAP. In Australia we have a fast-food tax which makes it so that buying fast food isn’t really much cheaper than buying something healthier. In the US, I’d get tacos from Taco Bell and it’d only be a few dollars. Large portion sizes combined with low prices = getting fat quickly.
Brunch on Saturday AND Sunday? It’s so delicious that you don’t even think about the calories. French toast sticks, pancakes, meatball subs, eggs, bacon, cookies—and that’s not even half of it. Now that I’m back in Australia, I’m glad that brunch is only for Sundays and we stick with the usual bacon, eggs, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
4. The fast food.
The sheer amount of fast food available in the United States is insane. Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John’s, Chipotle, Subway, McDonald’s, Burger King, In-N-Out, Dunkin’ Donuts, Five Guys…the list is endless. Fast food is also more convenient in America because you can basically get anything delivered. In Australia, the majority of fast-food places that deliver are pizza chains.
5. The endless options of junk food.
There is so much junk food that you can only get in the US. I developed a love for Cool Ranch-flavored Doritos during my time in the US. We recently got Sour Patch Kids in Australia. However, there are so many types of candy, flavors of chips, and types of soft drinks available in the US that it’s overwhelming and you don’t know what to buy, so then you end up buying (and eating) it all.
6. Sugar content in food.
The main complaint I hear from foreigners about the food in the US is the sugar content. The worst one? Bread. Bread is SO sugary, but Americans obviously don’t realize that. I grew accustomed to it after a while, but I definitely realized it when I got home and had some normal bread. I swear, basically EVERYTHING in the US has sugar in it.
7. I never had to walk anywhere.
In Australia, public transportation is more expensive and sometimes less convenient than walking, which might be why people walk and ride bikes more often here. Public transportation is cheap and convenient. Instead of walking 20 minutes to class, it was a lot easier to hop on a bus for 5 minutes. This could be a testament to the public transportation available in the US or indicative of the lazy lifestyle many Americans tend to lead. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.