People talk about America being the most overweight country in the world and we all know it’s true, but you’ll never really understand the difference until you’ve experienced both sides.
In the months before I went abroad I lost about seven pounds in preparation to gain weight while I was gone. I thought of course I’m going to eat whatever I want, whenever I want and that’s gonna make me blow up like a balloon. I mean going to a school where study abroad is such a huge aspect of the campus culture you hear all the time people saying things like “Oh wow that girl gained a lot of weight while abroad”, “Going abroad makes you fat”, “All you’re going to eat is bread” and so on.
Fast forward a few months and though I never held myself back from eating (except for maybe cutting to two pieces of bread a day instead of three…) and never spent time exercising (except for my twenty minute walk to and from class) I came off the plane into the arms of my family and best friend and they all stared at me and told me how skinny I looked. I think they even used the word “sickly”. I was very surprised and furiously denied that I had lost any weight, I actually was convinced in my head that I had GAINED while abroad.
When I got home I weighed myself and though I was not the lightest I had ever been in my life I was on the lower end of my weight spectrum. So once again we fast forward through my time at home and all I can realize is how nauseous and uncomfortable I feel after every meal. It was like I could feel my body puffing up slowly but surely. After the holidays were over I weighed myself again and low and behold I was five pounds heavier……in just two weeks. *Cue mental freak out here*. Now granted, it was Christmas and all and I hadn’t been home in months so I probably was indulging more than I should in the luxuries of food, but in no way did I think that it was five pounds worth.
Fast forward another week and a half or so and now I’m up to eight pounds heavier than when I touched down in the US. I spent less than a month at home and had already gained almost ten pounds. Which honestly might not really sound like that much, but when you’re not an intensely overweight person, 10 pounds can really change the way your body looks.
I began to question why this was happening. Why was I feeling so stuffed and bloated all the time? Why was the scale rising higher and higher when I hadn’t changed the way I’d been eating?
And then I came to a realization. Food in the US is packed with chemicals and additives and all that other scary stuff they tell you about that isn’t allowed to be in foods in Europe. Now don’t take my word as fact, I’m not a scientist or a nutritionist, and I haven’t done a ton of research on this topic but on a basic level I know that this is true. There’s a reason why tomatoes are redder, eggs are more orange, potatoes are more yellow, and so on in Europe.
I’m not gonna blame my weight gain and discomfort solely on the chemicals that are in and on foods, but it must play a role. The lifestyle of we eat, how much we eat, and what we eat is definitely more drastic than I may have realized before I left. I’m starting to think that maybe I didn’t walk off the airplane looking “sickly” but maybe I just looked normal, and Americans are just too used to everyone looked stuffed up, puffy, and bloated that they don’t even recognize what healthy looks like.
So now since my discovery of my rapid weight gain it’s become crunch time to get myself back into shape before I get back to school. And I’m super pleased to say that since trying to eat better foods in better quantities my weight has gone down (the puffiness is still there but yaknow…my additive and scary stuff theory). I guess there isn’t much I can really do about it except try to avoid processed foods.
So that’s it America. In my accidental food experiment I have come up with the conclusion that we suck when it comes to food.
OR maybe I just need to stop making so many batches of brownies…..
From me for you,