Sunday, February 22, 2009

All Americans are fat and live unhealthy lifestyles, right?

This has been bothering me for a while, and I just never posted about it. I've discussed it at great length with my fellow Americans here, but no one has actually written about it... well here goes nothing.

The majority of the world has this perception of Americans as fat, lazy, fast-food eaters that live unhealthy life-styles. I guess that makes sense, considering we are the fattest country in the world and we founded McDonald's, but I disagree. My friends and family back home live a MUCH healthier and active lifestyle than my family and friends here in Spain. Every time I go for a run my family looks at me like I am crazy, and questioned why I would ever run a half marathon for fun! The only active one in my host family is my youngest sister who is a swimmer, and the other 4 ppl in my family do nothing! I feel like comparatively they eat a lot more than we do back home (lunch is huge, I stuff myself at lunch and they still eat way more than I ever could!), and they drink way more soda and eat way more junk food than I ever do at home. People are constantly buying chips and snacks, chocolate, and drinking Coke... whereas back home my one guilty snack is chips (hint of lime) and salsa (or cheese). The people you see out running or riding bikes are in the minority, and are usually fanatics. The majority of the people here are sedentary, though, I guess they do walk more ('cause everything is closer) and drive less. Did you know that McDonald's sales are higher in Europe than they are in the US? That means they eat MORE McDonald's than we do! and Americans still get the bad reputation.

Overall though, I feel like I am leading an unhealthier life here in Spain than back home. I am eating until I am uncomfortably full (and still getting scolded for not eating enough), I drink soda (and not just for mixed drinks), and I eat crappy snacks like chocolate and chips (not together). I try to run 5 days a week for at least 40 minutes, but that's just not enough to make-up for the damage I am doing to my body with food and drink. I am frustrated, and ticked off that we still get a bad rep. while there are others that live unhealthier!

Side-note: There are extremes on both sides (skinny, and fat) and Americans usually tend to have more of the extremes while Spaniards are in general all around the same size...


  1. Hey Shannon! I just joined your blog audience! Grandma has sent me the link, but I've been so busy. I rarely look at facebook or anything. You are quite a writer; sounds like a great trip. Makes me want to travel again, but that probably won't happen until 3 years from now when I'm transfered to somewhere exotic like Michigan or Nebraska for internship. I think your comments on the American sterotype might actually prompt me to brave the blizzard and go to the gym. Probably should to balance out the American cuisine- white chocolate mocha, chips, and Valentine's Day candy! Take care! :) -Theresa

  2. Shan, I do think Americans eat way to much fast/box food that is not good for you. We don't take the time to cook. The rest of the world is in the kitchen more and cooks natural food. As far as what you can do that is best for you. It must be a life style thing.

    Be yourself, eat until you feel comfortable and then walk away from the food. Learn to say no to the sodas and stuff that is not good for you, we did it for you when you were young, now you must take over and do it for yourself. You have the foundation, you can do it. Stay away from diets and build the daily life style that fits for you. Be active and you will do just fine.

    In general, I do think we have way too many fat people because too many Americans sit on our butts and play video games, watch TV, or surf the Internet. We all need to get out and run, bike, ski and walk more :)

  3. An interesting comparison. There are so many generalizations made about many groups...not just "Americans." You're conscious of what you do and what you eat. You are way ahead of those who don't, no matter where they live! I love you.