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View Full Version : Huge American portion size: Fact or Myth?


Necros
01-12-2006, 01:08 PM
So, I just returned from several weeks in Paris and norther nFrance (yes, thank you, it was wonderful; lovely country, fabulous city). And I ate in a ton of restaurants.

Now, I have always heard that the reason Americans in general are so fat is that we eat a vast amount of food here. I mean, stop in at an Applebee's, the line goes, and they will basically wheel you up to a trough. But here's what I found whilst in Paris:

-The average person dining for lunch or dinner in a restaurant will be presented with a quantity of food roughly twice that in a normal family restaurant in the US.
-Dessert always seems to be a standard part of a meal. Not so in the US.
-Desserts are probably two to three times as large as in the US.
-The concept of a doggie bag seems to be unknown, whereas in America, people ordering a large plate of food will often take half of it to eat later.

Are my impressions of the Parisian (and by extension European) dining scene correct? Or was I only presented one facet? Do people at home eat as much as they do in restaurants? Why so much food?

At this point, I'm thinking that the reason Americans are so fat is because after our dinner at Applebee's we haul our carcasses to the car, drive home and flop on the couch as opposed to walking a mile back to our flat after a meal. EuroDopers, what say you? Do you have the perception that Americans eat a lot compared to diners in your own country?

ultrafilter
01-12-2006, 01:13 PM
I was always under the impression that Europeans ate out much less frequently than Americans. I've nothing to back that up, though, so take it with a grain of salt.

Future Londonite
01-12-2006, 01:21 PM
Having lived in Europe the first 24 years of my life and the last 7 in the US, I have to say that your experience is not your typical European food experience;
1) Dessert is not a standard part of any meal. Most Europeans order dessert but it's an item that needs to be ordered seperately and paid for (just like in the US)

2) In my experiences (and I have eaten out a lot, both in regular restaurants as well as haute cuisine) US portions are way bigger than European portions. Granted some European restaurants will serve veggies/potatoes etc on the side (as compared to on the plate) - though even there might be more sidedishes, they tend to lean heavily towards veggies (it's fairly common to get 3 diff kind of veggies, a salad and 2 potatoe dishes)

3) Doggiebags are unheard of in Europe.

4) Soda refills are unheard of as well (and I'm pretty sure that gulping down two/three big glasses of any soda during dinner/lunch contributes to the weightproblems regardless if it's diet soda)

jjimm
01-12-2006, 01:26 PM
-The average person dining for lunch or dinner in a restaurant will be presented with a quantity of food roughly twice that in a normal family restaurant in the US.I have never seen this - I'm usually just-satisfied leaving a French restaurant - as it should be.-Dessert always seems to be a standard part of a meal. Not so in the US.Never seen this. Were you dining table d'hôte or à la carte? Normally if you want a dessert, you have to order it separately.-Desserts are probably two to three times as large as in the US.Never seen this, either. What I've seen is usually a dainty little crème caramel or a little cake. Personally I don't do dessert, so perhaps I'm not one to talk.-The concept of a doggie bag seems to be unknown, whereas in America, people ordering a large plate of food will often take half of it to eat later.This is very true. I can imagine a Parisian waiter pistol-whipping a person if they were to ask for such a thing. It's getting a little more usual over here in the UK, but it still throws some kitchens into a spin.Do you have the perception that Americans eat a lot compared to diners in your own country?Definitely, absolutely, and without a doubt. I always put on around 5 lb whenever I spend more than a couple of weeks in the US. When went to work for a company in CT in 1997, me and my Dublin roomie went to a local bar and ordered a nachos appetizer. We couldn't finish it between us. Conversely, a very large American colleague working for the same company was sent to Dublin for six months - and he was always complaining about not getting enough food in restaurants. He lost around thirty pounds in less than six months.

Johnny L.A.
01-12-2006, 01:30 PM
He lost around thirty pounds in less than six months.
Can I work for your company? :)

alice_in_wonderland
01-12-2006, 01:44 PM
If I put the portions I received when travelling in Europe beside those I've received travelling in the US, it would tend to not match with your OP.

The meals I've received in the US have been MASSIVE - even alongside Canadian portions, which my Japanese SIL couldn't believe when she first arrived here.

bouv
01-12-2006, 02:03 PM
4) Soda refills are unheard of as well (and I'm pretty sure that gulping down two/three big glasses of any soda during dinner/lunch contributes to the weightproblems regardless if it's diet soda)

Ummm...no on the diet soda remark. Almost all diet sodas have no calories because they use artificial sweeteners. No calories means no net weight gain.

Of course, most people don't get diet soda when eating out. Especially since usually the only diet choice is diet Coke/Pepsi. I don't like cola, I prefer lemon-lime drinks,. I drink Sprite zero because it has no calories and tastes good, but there is never a diet option of any non-cola drink in most places. But, thankfully, I am one of those people who can be happy drinking water. Apparantly, most Americans aren't like that.

But as an aside...why is soda so much more expensive over there? Is it a supply/demand issue? Less people want it so less is made so the net cost is more per unit? Or are you just smarter than us and know that by charging a few Euros for one soda you decrease the chance people will buy it, thus keeping your population skinny and healthy? ;)

Trunk
01-12-2006, 02:19 PM
I didn't find the portions way smaller in France.

In one place, ordering a "plat des ouefs" came with 3 eggs, as well as bread and ham.

The standard bistro "croque madame" or "croque monsieur" is a pretty hefty sandwich.

I'd get a "panini" from a roadside vendor and it was an entire baguette.

Crepes are large, gyros with french fries were just as big as America.

Now, Trunk, you're saying, that's mostly fast-food/diner food/junk food.

As for nice meals, well, somewhat similar. I ate at a "southern style" place in Paris that my sister and her (French) husband go to, and it was a lot. I ordered a lamb dish that was big. I remember getting "Coq Au Vin" at a place in Beaune. It was just as big as if I got it at a French place in America.

Finally, my brother-in-law would cook a big meal for lunch and dinner Saturday and Sunday. A big meal. A huge pot of stew, a starch, and vegetables which were usually covered with a lot of butter.

Long and short of it: I thought they ate a TON of food in France.

So, I don't know what I would contribute our weight to. . .for one, I'm very suspicious of all the chemicals in our food.

Also, we eat tons of soda and get lots of sugar in things with "high fructose corn syrup".

Also, we eat a lot between meals, driving in cars, sitting in front of the TV, etc.

Also, they do walk more in France, or at least Paris. Once you get outside of Paris, I noticed fatter people. I think New Yorkers tend to look thinner and they walk a lot too.

So, I'm sort of with the OP. I'll at least say that it's easy to eat big portions in France.

I'll also add. . .I don't eat at chains here. So, my portions are what I make, and what I eat when I dine out (which is usually either bar food, or ethnic food -- chinese, thai, afghani, italian, etc.). I don't know the size of stuff at TGIFs, Olive Garden, etc.

jjimm
01-12-2006, 02:28 PM
But as an aside...why is soda so much more expensive over there? Is it a supply/demand issue? Less people want it so less is made so the net cost is more per unit? Or are you just smarter than us and know that by charging a few Euros for one soda you decrease the chance people will buy it, thus keeping your population skinny and healthy? ;)But that would be interventionist, so I'm sure the French government would eschew such a policy mightily. ;)

Speaking for myself, but maybe other Euro types, I would never dream of drinking soda with a meal (other than BK or something). Way to ruin your food. Water or wine or beer only.

One thing I notice in France is that people linger over meals, and pick at them. They don't wolf them down like I do - wonder if that's something to do with it.

Anyway, we're none to talk, since Scotland just overtook the US in obesity rate (though the average size of the obese people may still be lower).

Necros
01-12-2006, 02:38 PM
1) Dessert is not a standard part of any meal. Most Europeans order dessert but it's an item that needs to be ordered seperately and paid for (just like in the US)
Ah, I see I've not made myself clear. I did not mean that dessert came with whatever was being served automatically. Just that, as you said, that people ordered dessert as if it were a natural thing. I can't remember the last time I ordered dessert here in the US at a non-fancy meal, but it seemed to be standard there.

You may have a point about our excessive love of soda here. I don't drink anything but diet, so I dunno. But we did drink wine with almost every meal there, and that does not have zero calories. :)

To give an example, my wife would order creme brulee for dessert sometimes. At every place, it would be in a dish that was probably a good six inches wide and perhaps three-quarters of an inch deep. You would never receive a creme brulee of that magnitude in the US. At Julien, we got desserts that ranged from the merely small (THREE scoops of ice cream) to the massive (a giant slab of ice cream cake that must have been the equal of at least two piece of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake.

And another thing: The multi-course meals at decent restaurants, come in the form of the menu, prix fixe or formule, offered many, normal sized portions. In the US, these types of meals normally have significantly downsized portions (and are twice the price). It's not like a full sized sazad plus a full sized entree plus a whole dessert. But that's definitely what I saw there.

I was aghast at the quanties. I'm trying to figure out why my expereince was seemingly so different from what the other EuroDopers in the thread are telling me is the norm.

amarinth
01-12-2006, 03:01 PM
I also just got back from Paris & Rome, and I found the opposite. My portions were small (compared to what I'm used to at home - though, honestly, not so small that I was in danger of starving).

The other thing I found was that crap/junk food (chips, soda, candy, the stuff you buy here and eat without thinking) was hideously expensive. Everywhere. It wasn't just at the tourist traps, but in the grocery stores too. (I had a lot of sticker shock at the price of some foods. On the other hand, croissants were dirt cheap.) I would guess that parents think more about giving their kid a bag of chips if it costs $2 instead of $.30

mazinger_z
01-12-2006, 03:07 PM
I've lived in England for a bit, and for a couple of summers in France, and I think US portions are much bigger, in general. [However, I think UK breakfasts are precursors to hearattacks.] Dinner size portions are comparable, but only for restaurants. The less upscale it is, non-American(ized), and non-touristy, the lesser the size are the portions.

Contrast the same type in America (well, add non-Euro-ized), portion sizes are going to be huge. For instance, in my neck of the woods, pizza places are competing on price for an Extra large. That's a true x-large pizza, one-topping, 18" (that's 45.72 cm for you non-imperial types), for the whopping low price of $9.99 (plus tax). That's cheap, and a great deal. I believe that that's unheard of in Europe. In fact, the Domino's in the UK (which, imo, is better than in America) is running a deal of 3 (9.5") pizzas for 5 quid. That pales in comparrison to the American version of 3 Mediums (that's 12", mind you) for 7 dollars, unlimited toppings; or, the old $5 by 5 deal (truly gluttonous).

So, to sum up, US portions are larger for everything except breakfast. Plus, I think US eats out more than their Euro counterparts.

scr4
01-12-2006, 03:25 PM
What I've noticed is that American food tends to be even more filling than it looks. You often get pasta in a bowl instead of a flat plate. You'd often find a huge mound of carbs (potatoes or rice) hiding under a thin layer of meat and vegetables. And many dishes contain butter, cheese, sour cream, mayo, etc.

Amazon Floozy Goddess
01-12-2006, 03:32 PM
I do notice a difference between Canada and the States. A few years ago Mr. AFG and I went to visit some friends in North Carolina and stopped at a Denny's in Virginia for breakfast. I ordered 2 eggs, 3 strips of bacon, 2 pieces of toast, and a coffee. The waitress looked at me in disbelief and said, "Light eater, are we?" I couldn't figure out what she meant until I saw the food coming to the people a few tables down from us. Absolutely enormous breakfast platters. Just imagining eating all that for breakfast gave me cramps. I've never seen such large dishes served in Canadian restaurants.

Zsofia
01-12-2006, 03:54 PM
What I've noticed is that American food tends to be even more filling than it looks. You often get pasta in a bowl instead of a flat plate. You'd often find a huge mound of carbs (potatoes or rice) hiding under a thin layer of meat and vegetables. And many dishes contain butter, cheese, sour cream, mayo, etc.
Oh, yeah, no butter in French food at all.

scr4
01-12-2006, 03:59 PM
Oh, yeah, no butter in French food at all.
Are you saying the average French dish does contain as much fat and carbs as a typical American dish, or just nitpicking on the details?

Atticus Finch
01-12-2006, 04:00 PM
I've travelled to the US and have been amazed at how big the portions were. I remember ordering a quarter-pound burger recently and waiting ages for it. The waitress (not the one who'd taken our order) eventually came over and apologised, explaining that she'd found the cook putting a dinky little quarter-pound patty on the grill, had figured there was a mistake and had made him put on a proper half-pound patty instead.

Most of my US experiences have been in Texas, though, so that may be skewing my view ; )

Cunctator
01-12-2006, 04:07 PM
My American experiences are confined to LA and New York City. I was staggered at how big the portions were when I ate in restaurants.

Martin Hyde
01-12-2006, 04:40 PM
At this point, I'm thinking that the reason Americans are so fat is because after our dinner at Applebee's we haul our carcasses to the car, drive home and flop on the couch as opposed to walking a mile back to our flat after a meal. EuroDopers, what say you? Do you have the perception that Americans eat a lot compared to diners in your own country?

Not so fast says I.

Walking a mile only burns a hundred calories. For the average American meal that wouldn't even burn off the calories you got from the drink.

jjimm
01-12-2006, 05:06 PM
However, I think UK breakfasts are precursors to hearattacks.]
...
So, to sum up, US portions are larger for everything except breakfast. Plus, I think US eats out more than their Euro counterparts.In fairness to us Brits (and the Irish too), the trad cardiac-arrest-in-a breakfast is a special treat. I would tend only to go for the "full English" once at the weekend after a big night on the booze - and not every weekend at that. Most of us just eat cereal or toast.

Whereas the French and Italians, for example, usually eat the tiniest of breakfasts - something like a single croissant or a little bit of cake respectively, not something on which I'd be able to last until lunchtime.

Giraffe
01-12-2006, 05:54 PM
Walking a mile only burns a hundred calories. For the average American meal that wouldn't even burn off the calories you got from the drink.I think the primary reason that regular exercise is supposed to make such a huge difference in fighting obesity is not the direct energy expediture of the exercise itself so much as the boost to your metabolism. So walking 30 minutes a day is far more effective for weight loss than walking 6 hours twice a month, even if the total energy cost is the same. Thus if you walk regularly, you'll end up burning off a lot more than 100 calories/mile.

seosamh
01-12-2006, 06:05 PM
I have just got back from a week trying to drink New England dry - well, mainly Boston and Portland (Maine). The egregious Jez and I tended to eat mainly in bars and brewpubs and I would say that the portions in most places were significantly larger than those offered by similar establishments in the UK and Ireland.

Special mention, however, must be made of $3Deweys (http://3dollardeweys.com/) in Portland, not only for the quality and quantity of beers available but also for the reasonable sizes of the food portions (the food was excellent, too).

But I tend, like jiimm, to return from the USA significantly lardier than when I arrived, and I am not one whose weight normally fluctuates by more than a few pounds either side of the 10 stone/140 lbs mark. And I walked a hell of a lot last week, despite the snow.

Johnny L.A.
01-12-2006, 06:13 PM
I have just got back from a week trying to drink New England dry
You're supposed to drink Canada Dry. ;)

GorillaMan
01-12-2006, 06:14 PM
In fairness to us Brits (and the Irish too), the trad cardiac-arrest-in-a breakfast is a special treat. I would tend only to go for the "full English" once at the weekend after a big night on the booze - and not every weekend at that. Most of us just eat cereal or toast.

Whereas the French and Italians, for example, usually eat the tiniest of breakfasts - something like a single croissant or a little bit of cake respectively, not something on which I'd be able to last until lunchtime.
I fully agree with all this....the one time I'm guaranteed to eat a full English, no matter what time of day or night, plus a gallon of tea, is after returning from the continent.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
01-12-2006, 06:33 PM
I would guess that parents think more about giving their kid a bag of chips if it costs $2 instead of $.30

$.30 for a bag of chips from a machine?

You must be a time traveler from the 1970s.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
01-12-2006, 06:40 PM
Ummm...no on the diet soda remark. Almost all diet sodas have no calories because they use artificial sweeteners. No calories means no net weight gain.



I've heard the argument that diet soda contibutes to overweight because some drinkers of it think that 'entitles' them to consume more calories from other sources, and generally overcompensate. Perhaps that's the basis of EuroMDguy's claim here, though only he can tell us for sure.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
01-12-2006, 06:47 PM
I was in Germany for a year, admittedly a long time ago, and my impression was that restaurants served about as much over there as they did over here at the time. This was mainly in the sorts of places where you could get a whole plate of food and a glass of wine for, like, 7 or 8DM in the 1970s.

Judging by my experience with higher-quality Italian and French restaurants over here, where the meal is usually ordered and served in several courses, the individual portions do tend to be quite small, but then you're probably getting four courses including salad and desert, so it seems to even out more or less.

Shagnasty
01-12-2006, 06:48 PM
So, I just returned from several weeks in Paris and norther nFrance (yes, thank you, it was wonderful; lovely country, fabulous city). And I ate in a ton of restaurants.

I go to France fairly often and my wife has been at least once a year since she was little. I never experienced anything like you report.

Actually once I did. Did they seat you in an restaurant area with other Americans and English menus some of the time? Paris has a number of huge ripoff restaurants where they segregate Americans and give them "special" food and prices. We got seated in the American section of the restaurant once and we asked to be moved midway through. It had high priced menus, mediocre food, and less then authentic french cuisine. Even though that was the only time that we got chosen to be seated in one of those, I have seen it happen to other Americans as they got picked out of line and led off to their special treat.

My wife speaks French fluently and knows the culture as well as her own but Parisians can be both accommodating and condescending at the same time.

MLS
01-12-2006, 06:57 PM
My experience in France a few years ago was that the portion sizes in good restaurants were definitely smaller, but the portion was perfect. I'd get served a plate of food and think, oh, wow, I'm gonna be really hungry later. When I'd finished leisurely completing the meal, I'd realize that I really was not hungry any more. Or that maybe I could enjoy a small portion of fruit or other dessert. In contrast, here in the U S of A, I find that most of the time I have to really watch it in order to stop eating at the right time. As long as there's tasty food on the plate, I tend to want to finish it, even if some objective thought would tell me I am not really hungry any more.

I also agree that many (certainly not all) Americans eat too fast. Especially my husband, who spent his youth starving in Europe after WWII. Also, many (certainly not all) Americans will tell you how great a restaurant was, and their main praise is the huge size of the portions.

amarinth
01-12-2006, 07:07 PM
$.30 for a bag of chips from a machine?

You must be a time traveler from the 1970s.Not from a machine but those lunchbox size ones that according to albertsons.com are $8.99 for 24 bags. ($.37, sorry).

The same size bags were 2-3 euros. Even chips out of an airport snack machine in the US aren't anywhere near that expensive.

ITR champion
01-12-2006, 10:25 PM
If anyone thinks that portion sizes in France and England are too small, try taking a trip through Eastern Europe. When I traveled to Prague in 2001, I was amazed by how small the portions were. They cut out a steak or fish fillet that's about three square inches, and give you a spoonful of choppped vegetables on the side. Then again the meals are remarkably cheap, so I suppose you get what you pay for.

Amazon Floozy Goddess
01-13-2006, 01:11 AM
So, how's your French toast?

Someone's gotta get this one, I just know it

Scissorjack
01-13-2006, 01:25 AM
I do notice a difference between Canada and the States. A few years ago Mr. AFG and I went to visit some friends in North Carolina and stopped at a Denny's in Virginia for breakfast. I ordered 2 eggs, 3 strips of bacon, 2 pieces of toast, and a coffee. The waitress looked at me in disbelief and said, "Light eater, are we?"

My arteries just slammed shut in horror. Breakfast for me is a couple of pieces of toast, two or three cups of coffee, and a piece of fruit or two.

levdrakon
01-13-2006, 02:25 AM
I was always under the impression that Europeans ate out much less frequently than Americans. I've nothing to back that up, though, so take it with a grain of salt.

I was living in Germany for awhile a year or so ago and I noticed I tended to take home leftovers about as often as I do in the States. If you go out to dinner, it's definitely a meal. You aren't going to go home hungry. I've had many a plate of pasta I couldn't make it half way through.

But you're right, I don't think they eat out as often. Or at least when they eat out, it isn't always a full-on meal the way American's tend to expect every meal to be. Germans seem to spend a lot of time at cafe-type places, but they aren't always having a full course meal while they're there. They might just be having coffee or a beer, and socializing with friends. Then go home and cook dinner.

Going to a Denny's for breakfast and getting a Mega Meat Lover's Grand Slam Skillet Scramble Supreme is something you just don't see much in Europe.

Malacandra
01-13-2006, 04:38 AM
But that would be interventionist, so I'm sure the French government would eschew such a policy mightily. ;)


Which brings us neatly on to the only guaranteed method for weight loss: eschew your food properly. :D

irishgirl
01-13-2006, 05:37 AM
I'm probably alone in this.

When I eat dinner out at home I probably won't be hungry the next day, so usually skip breakfast and lunch the day after a big meal.

On holiday I try to eat like the locals, and I usually don't put on weight, but that's because we do a lot of walking.

In Italy it means a cappucino and a roll for breakfast, something light (a slice of pizza, a salad) for lunch and a full dinner (3 courses- skipping either antipasti or pudding, depending on my mood) eaten over about 2 hours.

In France that's a coffee and croissant, half a baguette with cheese for lunch and 3 courses for dinner, again if I'm not hungry I'll skip pudding or a starter..

I'll probably leave something on my plate at each course. Fizzy soft drinks with food is a no-no. Water, fruit juice, tea, coffee, wine or beer only.


My experience of American food is restricted to 4 hours waiting in LAX. I ordered a small portion of french fries, and was only able to eat half of it. The waiter was terribly concerned that I might not be feeling well or that there was something wrong with the food. There wasn't, the portion was just too big.

fishbicycle
01-13-2006, 06:07 AM
I grew up in Canada, where, when eating at just about any restaurant, the portions are sufficiently small that you had room for dessert at the end. Since I moved to the US nearly eight years ago, I have not been able to have dessert even once. There is a massive amount of food served here for meals in restaurants. We bring home the other half that we couldn't possibly eat, all the time.

yingtongtiddleipo
01-13-2006, 06:16 AM
Are my impressions of the Parisian (and by extension European) dining scene correct? Or was I only presented one facet? Do people at home eat as much as they do in restaurants? Why so much food?

At this point, I'm thinking that the reason Americans are so fat is because after our dinner at Applebee's we haul our carcasses to the car, drive home and flop on the couch as opposed to walking a mile back to our flat after a meal. EuroDopers, what say you? Do you have the perception that Americans eat a lot compared to diners in your own country?


Here's an interesting article from the Observer Food Monthly on the 'French Paradox' i.e. Why Les Frenchies can pack away the calorie-laden food, while still slipping into their teeny sized Chanel. It goes into comparative eating habits of the US/UK including portion size, eating out etc.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/foodmonthly/story/0,9950,1342296,00.html

Some of the points is raises are that the French/Europeans...

A) Prefer to prepare unprocessed foods - therefore avoiding e-numbers, hormones, GM foods, additives etc.

B) Spend a greater amount of time eating and discussing the food they eat - it is a national pastime.

C)Prefer quality over quantity - one square of dark real chocolate over a bar of processed 'milk' chocolate, for example.

D)Have smaller portion control (quote from the article) "Mean portion size in Philadelphia was about 25 per cent greater than in Paris. Philadelphia's Chinese restaurants served 72 per cent more than the Parisian ones. A supermarket soft drink in the US was 52 per cent larger, a hotdog 63 per cent larger, a carton of yoghurt 82 per cent larger. "

Well worth a read.

Hentor the Barbarian
01-13-2006, 07:37 AM
Just take a quick jaunt up to Canada to get a sense of the large quantities of food served as part of an American meal. Even, for example, a single Tim Horton's doughnut seems small. All of my colleagues commented on how much smaller the serving sizes were at the restaurants we went to.

Nope - no two ways about it. We are big fatties here in America and we love us some super sizin'.

jjimm
01-13-2006, 07:55 AM
we love us some super sizin'.It's also down to individual choice in the same restaurant. Just the other day in BK in Phuket, Thailand, our eat-in order got mixed up with the take-away order of the American couple in front of us. mrs jjimm had ordered a cheeseburger and I a regular Whopper. The Yanks had already left when we picked up their order in error. mrs jjimm ended up with a double cheeseburger, while I ended up with a double Whopper cheeseburger with bacon. Since we were hungry and the error diddled them not us, and they hadn't returned, we decided not to complain, and eat the big stuff instead. mrs jjimm just about forced hers down, while I managed about half of my burger before I had to give up due to stomach ache.

Mississippienne
01-13-2006, 07:56 AM
When I was a child, my mother never made me clean my plate. As long as I was full and happy, it didn't matter what was left over. Most other kids were encouraged to eat everything given to them, regardless of whether they were full or not. I think this sort of thing lays the foundation for adulthood -- you go to a restaurant and get a gigantic plate of food, and try your darndest to eat it all, even if you may be poping after the first pound or two. To this day I almost never finish an entire plate of food when I eat out, and I have to take home doggy bags. I'm happier (and healthier) eating till I'm sated, rather than stuffing myself.

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
01-13-2006, 08:02 AM
Just take a quick jaunt up to Canada to get a sense of the large quantities of food served as part of an American meal. Even, for example, a single Tim Horton's doughnut seems small. All of my colleagues commented on how much smaller the serving sizes were at the restaurants we went to.

Nope - no two ways about it. We are big fatties here in America and we love us some super sizin'.

Canadian portions are smaller than American ones? When I went to Canada I was nearly sick trying to finish the meal I bought from a McDonalds there. God only know how big the American version would be, then!

elfbabe
01-13-2006, 08:33 AM
I've never been into the whole giant-portion thing myself, so actually I didn't notice a huge difference after moving from the US to Canada. In most things, that is. The two that really struck me were smaller large sodas and smaller bagels. Granted, Montreal-style bagels are pretty dense, but still... I should take a picture sometime.

Trunk
01-13-2006, 08:35 AM
Has anyone here ever actually ever eaten a "croque madame" in a Bistro?

It's a ham & cheese sandwich grilled in butter, with mayonnaise, on a piece of bread the size of a plate. They fry an egg and place it on top of the sandwich.

They recommend eating a Philly Cheese Steak to clear out your arteries after having one.

At my brother-in-law's mom's house, in the cognac region, after bread and soup, and some kind of weird jelly pie, I'm full BEFORE the meat course even arrives.

Now, we're having cheese and dessert?

Have you had a pain chocolate aux aumondes? This HAS to be the caloric equivalent of 2 Krispy Kremes.

Maybe I just don't pig out in America like some people do, but there's definitely more going on than just portion control when it comes to the traditional French thinness.

My brother-in-law claims that having red wine with cheese after a meal helps keep people thin. I think that's a pretty dubious claim.

Johnny L.A.
01-13-2006, 09:39 AM
I got yer 'huge American portion'! Right here!

I've been trying not to post that since the thread started. But I couldn't resist anymore.

When I was in Florence in 1982 my friend and I each had a plate of pasta for dinner. The people at the table next to us (locals) ate and ate and ate. It was amazing the amount of food the waitstaff brought out!

My favourite pub, Ye Olde King's Head in Santa Monica, has two sizes of fish'n'chips: King Size and Queen Size. The former has two pieces of fish, and the latter has one piece. I can finish the Queen Size, including the chips. But if I try to tackle the King Size I have to leave half of my chips. (Or, since the last time I went there was for a DopeFest, I have chips left over to build a pirate ship. ;) )

cactus waltz
01-13-2006, 09:46 AM
All I know is this: my dad went on a business trip to Boston. When he got back, I asked him how America was like, to which he replied "Lobsters! Lobsters big as man!".

He had a great time.

Johnny L.A.
01-13-2006, 09:50 AM
he replied "Lobsters! Lobsters big as man!".
I used to work with a guy who had been 2nd Skipper on a dive boat in San Diego. He had a photo of himself holding a lobster he caught off of San Nicholas Island. The head was at chest level, and the tail was down at his knees.

I went to Boston once on business. A woman in a convenience store noticed my West Coast accent and asked, 'How do you find Boston?' I told her, 'You just take off from LAX and fly East!' She laughed.

Necros
01-13-2006, 10:51 AM
Maybe I just don't pig out in America like some people do, but there's definitely more going on than just portion control when it comes to the traditional French thinness.

Yeah, this seems to be shaping up to be why I was so shocked by the French portion sizes: I just don't eat as much as people think Americans should, nor do I go to these fabled "80 pounds of food for one person" restaurants here in the States. So it must just be me, because no way no how were the portion sizes in any of the probably 30 separate restaurants I ate in in Paris and Caen smaller than I would see in any normal American restaurant.

And Shagnasty, no, we weren't served in "American" sections, I never received a menu with any English on it, let alone one entirely in English. Maybe they realized I was American and gave me double-sized potions. But all of the assumedly French people (they were speaking French, with a much better accent than mine) around me where getting the same portions.

Maybe clairobscur can clarify (heh) this. I can definitely list restaurants I ate at, and what I had, if anyone's interested. :)

Future Londonite
01-13-2006, 12:30 PM
I've heard the argument that diet soda contibutes to overweight because some drinkers of it think that 'entitles' them to consume more calories from other sources, and generally overcompensate. Perhaps that's the basis of EuroMDguy's claim here, though only he can tell us for sure.

Well that is what I mean - I know that diet sodas have zero calories. I wasn't referring to the caloric count of diet sodas, but more hinting at the fact that sodas in general are considered not healthy. And that the chemical additions in diet sodas to make it zero-calorie can be anything but healthy. Though a discussion on the nutritional dangers/benefits of regular/diet sodas is not called for in this thread.

As far as my dessert comment is concerned - people in Europe tend to order dessert cause they aren't as full eating an European meal compared to finishing off an American meal. I have hardly issues finishing off dessert in Europe whereas the thought of dessert after an American meal while make me sick

Tristan
01-13-2006, 12:33 PM
So, how's your French toast?

Someone's gotta get this one, I just know it


Smelly and ungrateful.

This American toast, on the other hand....

ivylass
01-13-2006, 12:35 PM
I heard somewhere that a kid's meal-size hamburger today was the same size as an adult-sized hamburger back in the 70s. Ivylad and I have found we should not order an appetizer, because we won't eat all our meal.

Doggie bags are very nice. We ate at a fondue restaurant for our anniversary, and I felt like I had to eat everything, mainly because of the price and also because (obviously) a doggie bag was out of the question.

fessie
01-13-2006, 05:02 PM
When I went to Europe in 1985 I really noticed the smaller portions. And, I lost a whole bunch of weight (I think the walking helped, too; Eurail pass & all).

Working in food service here in the U.S. I often encountered foreigners who'd turn down offers of bigger portions. Even when scooping ice cream, I remember a man with a delightful accent who was astonished that we'd offer him so much food.

soulmurk
01-13-2006, 10:07 PM
Ummm...no on the diet soda remark. Almost all diet sodas have no calories because they use artificial sweeteners. No calories means no net weight gain.

I've read several articles recently that support the claim that artificial sweeteners in diet sodas are no better, and perhaps worse, than the "natural" sugar found in non-diet soda for helping contribute to weight gain, calorie content notwithstanding.

scr4
01-13-2006, 10:31 PM
I've read several articles recently that support the claim that artificial sweeteners in diet sodas are no better, and perhaps worse, than the "natural" sugar found in non-diet soda for helping contribute to weight gain, calorie content notwithstanding.
What evidence did they present? Did they propose any mechanisms by which a calorie-free drink can cause weight gain?

Shalmanese
01-13-2006, 11:14 PM
FWIW: I'm an Australian and, on my trip to the US, didn't seem to encounter portions significantly larger than what we get here. I was dining at fairly upscale places though, around $20 - $30 USD a head.

fessie
01-13-2006, 11:25 PM
What evidence did they present? Did they propose any mechanisms by which a calorie-free drink can cause weight gain?

By generating an insulin surge. Artificial sweeteners can be worse than sugar, that's why women with gestational diabetes can't use them. Some diabetics can, I don't know the ins & outs of it, though.

Hentor the Barbarian
01-14-2006, 12:40 AM
By generating an insulin surge. Artificial sweeteners can be worse than sugar, that's why women with gestational diabetes can't use them. Some diabetics can, I don't know the ins & outs of it, though.Huh? How in heaven's name is this possible? Could you please cite something - my son is diabetic and thus our family drinks sugar free drinks all the time.

I related a story in another thread about good adults believing bad science, about how disinformation about diabetes can be very troubling. Please make sure that you aren't spreading inaccurate information.

soulmurk
01-14-2006, 01:00 AM
What evidence did they present? Did they propose any mechanisms by which a calorie-free drink can cause weight gain?

A quick google search shows quite a few hits about the topic; I leave it to you to judge their reliability.

Essentially, they seem to say that aspartame and its ilk either trick your body into believing all sweet products are low-calorie, or else doesn't trick your body, which makes up for the lost calorie intake by causing you to eat more (I'm not sure if those two things contradict one another or if these people are just Nutrasweet bashing).

The other product, sucralose/Splenda (note the -ose ending), causes the body to release insulin just like a fructose or sucrose would, which helps lead to the weight gain despite the lack of calories.


I've never been a big fan of artificial sweeteners personally, but I just read that Splenda is two molecules of sucrose and three molecules of chlorine (closer to pesticide than salt they say), and that's reason enough for me to avoid it.

Hentor the Barbarian
01-14-2006, 08:13 AM
A quick google search shows quite a few hits about the topic; I leave it to you to judge their reliability.A quick google search turns up a ton of crazy bullshit. The only reasonable study seems to be one that suggests that if you give one group of rats a mix of sweetened and artificial sweetened fluids and another group of rats just the sweetened fluids for ten days, and then give them a chocolate, the first group will eat more of their regular food after getting the chocolate than the second. Seems all the references to the issue pointed back to this one study. Not nearly enough of a literature base to be making such a conclusion.

This is particularly the case when there are other studies, such as:

The effect of non-nutritive sweeteners on body weight in rats.

Porikos KP, Koopmans HS.

Department of Medical Physiology, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Artificial sweeteners are used to provide a sweet taste to a food while removing the calories associated with sugar. The importance of non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) for the control of body weight has never been proved. In this long-term study, 81 rats fed ad libitum on chow and water were given either an 11% sucrose solution, a solution artificially sweetened with saccharin and aspartame or served as controls. Over an 8-week period, the sucrose rats gained considerable weight while the NNS rats showed the same weight gain as controls. When the sweetened solutions were switched, obese sucrose rats lost weight during the next 8 weeks while rats previously on NNS gained weight rapidly. The results show that substitution of artificial sweeteners for sugars prevents weight gain and promotes weight loss in rats.

Try your Google search using Google scholar next time. It will cut down on the crazy bullshit, which will do us all good.

I could find nothing to support the idea of an "insulin surge" with Splenda or anything else. Unless you have an agenda to push, I ask you to stop spewing nonsense.

fessie
01-14-2006, 09:13 AM
Chill out Hentor, I'm relating what I learned (from my doctor, the dietician, and my own reading) when I had gestational diabetes two years ago. I acknowledged already that I don't know squat about Type I or Type II diabetes. There are differences between the three diabetes.

I'm pretty sure I threw away the pamphlet they gave me; at any rate, just about everything I own right now is packed in preparation for our impending move.

Gah. I don't have time to do a fucking literature review for you.

Hentor the Barbarian
01-14-2006, 10:40 AM
Gah. I don't have time to do a fucking literature review for you.Oh, okay. Better to just spout out stuff that you don't know anything about and make people worry about potential health risks. Super.

fessie
01-14-2006, 11:00 AM
You know, if your confidence in your own research and knowledge is sufficiently shaky that a chance remark on a message board (regarding GESTATIONAL DIABETES, not TYPE I OR TYPE II DIABETES) causes you great anxiety, then, well, there you are.

slaphead
01-14-2006, 11:02 AM
Returning to the topic at hand (in defiance of all tradition) I have to say that in my exerience portion sizes will vary hugely not just across countires and between various establishments, but also in terms of what people eat at various times of day and what people eat as a matter of course rather than as a treat.

The aforementioned teensy Italian breakfast is a good example - it would leave me ravenous by midday but the locals are fine with it. I would find the typical italian lunch a bit much, and I have never managed to cope with a seven-course Ialian feast, ever. I perceive Italians to eat a little bit more in total than I do, but of healthier food. Similarly, you get different distributions of meal sizes and types of food as you travel round.

The only country I have ever encountered where it seems to be assumed that every meal should be a serious attempt at death by eating is the US, where all portions seem to be huge, at all times, everywhere.

Having said that, Germany comes pretty close. A Wienerschnitzel or a schlachtplatte does not normally leave much room for dessert, or much energy left for anything other than whispered pleas for liver salts....

Rayne Man
01-14-2006, 11:08 AM
I find the quickest way to kill my appetite is to be presented with a very large portion of food ( especially chips or fries, for some strange reason). I suppose it's the thought of having to plough through this large mound of food that puts me off it.


It know it must be psychological, but I enjoy my food when in comes in smaller portions. If I feel hungry after eating this, I can always go back for more.

MaryEFoo
01-14-2006, 01:31 PM
It's supply as well as demand.

In the USA, we taxpayers generously subsidize corn (zea maiz) production. Then we have cheap corn syrup to put into super-size soft drinks, and corn oil, and the corn itself which is much used for animal feed.

So sodas and hamburger (and other meats) are subsidized indirectly, and fast-food places and restaurants compete on portion size because the supplies don't cost them so much.

Possible envious motivation by a California farm kid: nothing my family raises is subsidized. It's all them midwest Senators with 10,000-acre corn farms.

soulmurk
01-14-2006, 01:33 PM
I could find nothing to support the idea of an "insulin surge" with Splenda or anything else. Unless you have an agenda to push, I ask you to stop spewing nonsense.

Even in the line you quoted from me I said to judge the reliability for yourself. I have no invested interest in the topic and haven't researched it accordingly. I mentioned that I had read a few articles about it is all.

If anyone, anywhere takes one or two statements from a forum dedicated to opinions as medical fact without doing their own research, then they get what they deserve. In this case, some people might stop drinking diet soda. Oh, the horror.

Taking your advice, I used Google Scholar (which I hadn't previously known existed, thanks for the link) and found links that both support and decry the theory. Even the professionals don't know for sure, and though none endorse it, none seem willing to dismiss it either.

Oh, and none of the studies I read about had anything to do with rats. They were testing humans with loaded yogurt or gum or pudding.

jjimm
01-14-2006, 01:45 PM
Another recent experience springs to mind: ordering a pastrami on rye from an eat-in deli in NYC. I knew already I'd get a big sandwich, but holy crap, this thing nearly gave us a pint of milk too. It was about four inches deep in pastrami, and it looked like a road accident. I got rid of about 3/4 of the meat, just about finished the sandwich (couldn't touch the fries), then felt guilty and asked for a doggy bag, even though I had no fridge in the hotel room. Oh, and it came with pickles too.

My wife ordered a salami sandwich, which was of similar dimensions, and we dissected it. There were 23 layers of salami.

My dad, when he was working in Tennessee, said that on Monday he would order a turkey sub, take all but two of the slices out, Tupperware the rest and eat that with mayo on his own bread for the rest of the week.

I now feel a little embarrassed about American tourists visiting here, and ordering a ham sandwich or whatever, and finding that it has merely one bread-sized piece of ham in it. (A bit like when my Texan friend came to visit, and he ordered a Coke in my local café. It came to the table at room temperature. Quite correctly, he sent it back and asked for ice. Ten minutes later, the same Coke returned - still warm, but with one solitary ice cube floating in it. :o)

Czarcasm
01-14-2006, 04:35 PM
[Moderator Underoos on]If you wish to debate the merits/demerits of artificial sweeteners, do so elsewhere(Great Debates comes to mind).[/Moderator Underoos on]

RickJay
01-14-2006, 04:52 PM
If I put the portions I received when travelling in Europe beside those I've received travelling in the US, it would tend to not match with your OP.

The meals I've received in the US have been MASSIVE - even alongside Canadian portions, which my Japanese SIL couldn't believe when she first arrived here.
Agreed. The portions I am presented with in Canadian restaurants are often unnecessarily big (and I am a big guy) but the portions in U.S. restaurants can border on the grotesque.

Johnny L.A.
01-14-2006, 05:24 PM
I now feel a little embarrassed about American tourists visiting here, and ordering a ham sandwich or whatever, and finding that it has merely one bread-sized piece of ham in it.
Two slices would be about right. And one slice of Swiss cheese.

There's a place in Lancaster, CA called Crazy Otto's. (Two places for the last several years, after Otto died.) Used to be that their breakfasts came with three eggs. a helping of butter-drenched hashbrowns the size of a typical paperback book and an two inches high, a thick ham steak (the kind with the bone) about six inches across on the short side, and three homemade buttermilk biscuits (for the UK: a like a scone, but not sweet) with sausage-and-bacon-and-ham gravy. As a teen I could eat half of it, and I'd take the rest home for later. In recent years (and it's been several years since I've been there) they reduced the eggs and biscuits to two of each and the ham steak is slightly smaller. But it's still an unholy amount of food. The only other place I've been to that served larger breakfasts (but not quite as tasty IMO as Otto's) was Belaisle's, which used to be on Harbor and Chapman a few miles South of Disneyland. They had cakes a foot high. Locally there's Arlis's. Meals almost as large as Otto's, and you get a choice of three pancakes, or two biscuits with gravy.

Personally I'd prefer smaller portions. I'd be quite happy with a good croissant or a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. (And two pots of tea or a pot of coffee, of course. ;) ) Until I started this diet (which precludes carbohydrates) and have been trying to eat some breakfast every day, I typically would eat nothing until noon.

Sublight
01-15-2006, 09:46 AM
The meals I've received in the US have been MASSIVE - even alongside Canadian portions, which my Japanese SIL couldn't believe when she first arrived here.
My wife was completely floored by the restaurant portions when we went to Boston last summer (I had a pretty hard time with them, myself). We quickly developed a strategy of finding something that looked small, and then splitting a single order between us.

On the other hand, we didn't have the same problem in France. The meals were filling, but never ridiculously huge.

Patty O'Furniture
01-15-2006, 11:11 AM
"Oh waiter, we'll have the trout almondine and two forks."

Kyla
01-15-2006, 01:11 PM
FWIW, I'm an American and am often incredulous at how large servings are, too. Maybe it's gotten worse in recent years, or maybe it's a regional difference. (Are servings smaller on the West Coast, where I grew up? I don't know.)

Bambi Hassenpfeffer
01-15-2006, 06:26 PM
Yeah, this seems to be shaping up to be why I was so shocked by the French portion sizes: I just don't eat as much as people think Americans should, nor do I go to these fabled "80 pounds of food for one person" restaurants here in the States.
You must not go to any of the American family casual chains -- Bennigan's, TGIFriday's, Applebee's, etc. -- because all of them serve an absurd amount of food as regular meals. But, they do this because the food cost in a restaurant (especially one like those, that basically serve pre-prepped frozen chicken breasts and beef patties) is usually not the largest deciding factor in pricing. They can offer a lot of food to their customers and charge a little more for it and make their money that way. For example, if they cut the portions in half, they'd only be able to cut the prices by 30% or so, and their customers would go somewhere else to get something bigger.

Most of this is from talking with my brother and other industry workers I know, and I can't think straight today because of a cold, but I hope that makes sense.

astro
01-15-2006, 08:28 PM
The other product, sucralose/Splenda (note the -ose ending), causes the body to release insulin just like a fructose or sucrose would, which helps lead to the weight gain despite the lack of calories.
.

I can see how spiking your insulin response might have undesirable metabolic consequences, but you can't gain weight without the energy calories provide. You can't get something from nothing.

soulmurk
01-15-2006, 09:31 PM
I can see how spiking your insulin response might have undesirable metabolic consequences, but you can't gain weight without the energy calories provide. You can't get something from nothing.

Being one of those in the minority with a high metabolism who are actually trying to gain weight, I've never much cared enough to learn about it. Was just reporting what I'd read.


Personally, I'm quite happy with American sized portions. In fact, I often finish off someone elses plate. I went to Canada not too long ago, and considering what I paid for the meal, I could have eaten another one and still have had room for dessert.

Askance
01-16-2006, 12:03 AM
I can see how spiking your insulin response might have undesirable metabolic consequences, but you can't gain weight without the energy calories provide. You can't get something from nothing.The idea is that ingesting something that tastes sweet makes your body produce insulin to deal with the incoming sugar. If the sweet taste was artificial sweetener then that sugar never arrives so the extra insulin drives down your blood sugar levels, making you feel hungrier than before and therefore eating more that you would have otherwise. So replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners means you put on weight, not take it off.

I'm neither supporting nor decrying this theory, just elaborating for you.

Sleel
01-16-2006, 03:27 AM
Oh, hell yeah. I'm from the US, though I've lived abroad for years. The portion sizes were absolutely shocking to me when I went back for a visit this winter. Everything was so cheap too. A meal out cost only about 75% what an equivalent in Japan would be on a per-item basis. In food volume/currency, a US restaurant meal is almost unbelievably cheap. I couldn't finish any of the meals I ordered on my trip except for a Togo's sandwich; I was hungry that day. I could be remembering wrong, but I think portions have gotten even bigger in the few years since I left the US. I took a trip to Spain this summer. The portions are much smaller than the US, even at touristy places.

I think one thing that helps in feeling full is eating a variety of food at every sitting. Lots of little plates of different foods adds up to satisfying eating while taking enough time to consume that you'll actually pay attention to your body's signals. It also means that you don't have to eat a lot of something you're not especially hungry for just so that you feel satisfied. If you're hungry for protein, you could eat lots and lots of carbs and fat, to the point where your stomach is distended, and yet still feel hungry. I speak from personal experience on this last.

In the US, side dishes are an afterthought that are often dispensed with completely. Massive main dishes are the rule, and they rarely provide a good balance of basic nutrients. It seems to me that the many different dishes style of dining is pretty common outside the US.

Necros
01-16-2006, 10:26 AM
You must not go to any of the American family casual chains -- Bennigan's, TGIFriday's, Applebee's, etc. -- because all of them serve an absurd amount of food as regular meals.
Well, though I used Applebee's in my OP, you have caught me out. I do not actually eat at any of those places. I try, as a rule, to avoid chain restaurants, so that may explain it. I'll have to go to a TGIFriday's and inconspiculously observe the other diners and their portions. There's no way I'm eating that much myself, not even in the name of science.:)

But if people in other countries are basing their option of American portion sizes on the example set by chain restaurants, then I gotta tell you: The meatloaf at Cheesecake Factory? Not even three normal Americans could, or would want to, finish that of.

gigi
01-16-2006, 11:31 AM
I do notice a difference between Canada and the States. A few years ago Mr. AFG and I went to visit some friends in North Carolina and stopped at a Denny's in Virginia for breakfast. I ordered 2 eggs, 3 strips of bacon, 2 pieces of toast, and a coffee. The waitress looked at me in disbelief and said, "Light eater, are we?" I couldn't figure out what she meant until I saw the food coming to the people a few tables down from us. Absolutely enormous breakfast platters. Just imagining eating all that for breakfast gave me cramps. I've never seen such large dishes served in Canadian restaurants.
I always wonder why Denny's distinguishes its meals at all. No matter what specific meal you ask for, it always comes with eggs, three kinds of meat (sausage patties and sausage links are different), toast and pancakes anyway.

As far as diet soda goes, the way it might make you gain weight, for me anyway, is that it kind of cleanses my palate and actually makes me feel not as full, opening up the possibility of that extra course, or dessert.

gigi
01-16-2006, 11:32 AM
The meatloaf at Cheesecake Factory? Not even three normal Americans could, or would want to, finish that of.
Ditto the chicken and dumplings with country gravy. Only a true gourmand like me can polish that off and have room for cheesecake.

Left Hand of Dorkness
01-16-2006, 11:56 AM
As I understand it, a big part of the difference between American and European weights can be traced back to what we have for breakfast. Americans ahve cereal and milk. Europeans have cigarettes and coffee. Ain't no diet food like a cigarette!

I eat out fairly often here in the states, at least once a week. Most of the time, I end up taking food home, having enough for a meal the next day. I've got some pizza sitting in the fridge at home; lunch yesterday was leftover vegetable paella.

However, when I eat fried food (fish and chips, say), I end up trying to eat most of it: you can't take fried food home with you unless you want to eat concentrated nasty, and I don't want to eat concentrated nasty. I therefore don't eat fried food very much.

I rarely order soda with a schmancy meal, but it does go well with a fried meal, and it also works well with sandwiches, if I'm not having coffee. At lunches, I'll often have a diet soda: we Americans don't usually have alcohol at lunchtime.

Being semi-vegetarian may help: the double-cheese-baconburger isn't on my list of acceptable foods.

Daniel

Canadiangirl
01-16-2006, 11:56 AM
As a Canadian visiting friends in U.S. often, there are distinct differences. I'm not saying it applies to all but to use rough fridge content from last visit examples and, believe me, I'm not health food nut:

my fridge: milk, orange juice, pear juice, one bottle of pepsi (to mix with hubby's rye when he comes home from work, just one), head of lettuce, bag of carrots, cheese, oranges, grapefruit We drink 2-3 glasses of milk with dinner and juice at least twice per day, on the weekends.

my friend's fridge: small carton milk, pepsi, coke, orange blended drink mix, iced tea, packaged sliced cheese, three bags of cookies, and one entire section of door shelves allocated to pop (soda) of some kind. She drinks 5-6 sodas per day along with several glasses of iced tea. Milk is seldom served at dinner, mostly sodas and iced tea.

We also notice a distinct different in meal contents: her, mostly casseroles containing packaged or canned foods along with many cookie jars, out and full, all the time.

We tend to have 2-3 meatless meals a week, fresh vegetables at least twice, salad once or twice, the closest I've got to packaged, prepared food is soup two nights ago.

We've checked the prices in the grocery store there and it doesn't seem to be that much higher than ours. In fact, packaged, prepared foods are often more expensive than fresh, both here and there.

I don't know if this is true everywhere, but certainly is in our experience. lifestyles are similar; she works in office, he is tradesman.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not criticizing, simply observing.

Left Hand of Dorkness
01-16-2006, 12:03 PM
My fridge is something like this:
Cranberry juice, orange juice, and tomato juice (the first for mixing with seltzer and/or rum, the second for drinking, the third for making soups)
Seltzer (for mixed drinks or straight)
Skim milk
Half-and-half
Heavy cream (I keep meaning to make caramel sauce with it--something I make once or twice a year, and lasts us for a month or so)
Pickles
Scallions
Parsley
Ginger, half an onion, and garlic
Blocks of cheddar and parmesan
Butter
A little bit of hummus
Tahini (for making more hummus)
Leftover pizza
A lot of condiments (mustards, oils, hot sauces, horseradish, etc.)
A third of a bottle of syrupy blackberry wine that someone brought to a party and that I keep meaning to finish off mixed with seltzer and cranberry juice, or else throw away

Canadiangirl
01-16-2006, 12:13 PM
Sorry for the double post - also something else I've noticed, that you tend to get more fatty foods in restaurants there. my favourite place to visit there is Eat N Park (sp?). they have a great breakfast buffet and I can eat whatever I want. But, for example, on our breakfast buffet in our town (can you tell breakfast is my fave), we have fresh fruits, whole wheat, rye bread, lots of salads, etc. Eat N Park has sausage gravy(?), lots of sweet things, pancakes, syrups, cereals like Fruit Loops, etc. Now, my two faves on the Eat N Park is fried sausage patties (which we don't get here) and their porridge!

levdrakon
01-16-2006, 12:17 PM
lots of salads, etc.

For breakfast? Blech...

wolfman
01-16-2006, 12:18 PM
I think a lot of the large portions are because many of us are going to a one meal a day system. At least in IT I notice it. Most guys either skip lunch, or grab a little yougurt or a small bag of chips from the vending machine, then eat a huge ass dinner after work.

Or go and eat a double whopper for lunch, then work late, go home and collapse in front of the TV.

BMalion
01-16-2006, 01:33 PM
... but I just read that Splenda is two molecules of sucrose and three molecules of chlorine (closer to pesticide than salt they say), and that's reason enough for me to avoid it.


That's a silly reason to avoid something.

To paraphrase a wit from a different thread, cheese is one molecule away from cynanide, if you add a cyanide molecule.

BMalion
01-16-2006, 01:37 PM
[Moderator Underoos on]If you wish to debate the merits/demerits of artificial sweeteners, do so elsewhere(Great Debates comes to mind).[/Moderator Underoos on]


Whoops, sorry. :o

rjung
01-16-2006, 04:24 PM
What, a talk about large portions in American restaurants and nobody's mentioned Claim Jumper (http://claimjumper.com/) yet? The restaurants where the portions are super-duper-sized by default, and the potatoes are bigger than a child's head?

gigi
01-16-2006, 04:39 PM
What, a talk about large portions in American restaurants and nobody's mentioned Claim Jumper (http://claimjumper.com/) yet? The restaurants where the portions are super-duper-sized by default, and the potatoes are bigger than a child's head?
Hmmm. Illinois isn't that far from Vermont.

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