Monday, September 02, 2013

Re-Entry #4: Portions

Yet another belatedly-posted mini commentary on my reverse culture shock upon returning briefly to the United States after a decade in Taiwan.

It is no wonder that so many Americans are overweight (and the rest of the world is merrily following the example). I know that we can blame all kinds of things like high-fructose corn syrup and lack of exercise, but the giant portions served in restaurants has to be a big part of it.

The best example in my opinion is Mexican food. I love Mexican food, and one of the great things about eating it in the U.S. is that with your main dish (already huge), you usually also get a giant platter of rice and beans, often topped with cheese and sour cream (I miss it already!). Don't forget that you also get free tortilla chips from the moment you sit down. And it is CHEAP!

In Taiwan, the so-called Mexican restaurants have totally missed the point. No tortilla chips, no rice and beans, tiny portions (the main dishes look like little appetizers), and it is really expensive.

That's just one example, but there are many more. Basically if you want to eat "Western" food in Taiwan (or at least food that sort of looks like Western food, even if the taste is totally off), you have to be satisfied with tiny portions and huge price.

So when Lucy (my lovely wife) and I returned to the U.S. and started hitting the restaurants in Seattle (a foodie's paradise), we kept biting off more than we could chew, literally. Soon my parents' refrigerator was overflowing with to-go boxes containing the remnants of our dining adventures. In fact, it really drove my folks nuts, as they pretty much refused to eat most of it (Oh! How interesting. Oh no... we don't eat that!).

Long story short, only about a month before leaving Taiwan I had surgery on my throat and didn't eat at all for about a week, and then only tiny bits at a time for the next few weeks. I lost about twenty pounds. After a week back in the U.S. I gained it all back and then some, despite walking several miles each day, as well as doing yoga and swimming a couple times a week.

It's true that you are what you eat, and if you eat a lot... well, you will be a lot.

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