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Do Europeans Gain Weight When They Move to The US? “The Foreigner Fifteen”

We have all heard of the freshmen 15, but have you heard of the foreigner 15?

The classic American experience of moving out of your home and going off to college, is usually accompanied by overindulging in foods that you did not eat at home. Well, Europeans experience something similar when they move to the US.

A very French friend of mine had recently moved to Los Angeles. She approaches American culture with a sense of awe, amusement, and sometimes reproach.  I find it amusing to see Europeans’ reactions to American culture in real-time. At the Albertson’s in Los Feliz she stares at the pre-cut fruit section, the bags and trays and containers of neatly cut fruit and brightly colored smoothies. She remarks, “”so much plastic no?”” I simply laugh, feeling that our culture of excess is something that we cannot escape. I felt the same way returning from Italy last month, where we never got food to go, and when we did it was usually hand wrapped in paper. Back here, if you order take out or delivery your trashcan is practically bursting at the seams with plastic containers.

When I was “”fresh of the boat””  from living in Italy I was taken to a Panda Express. I remember how snobby and disgusted I was at first. “You want me to eat here?” Years later, I would look forward to eating it almost daily at the UCLA food court.

When European tourists visit the US for extended periods of time they often let their culinary guard down. They are not accustomed to what many americans, especially californians, practice; self-imposed moderation. Visitors from abroad succumb to our most aggressive ads, or largest portions and our most hydrogenated fats. Gaining, as it was identified that day, the “foreigner fifteen” Not to mention that the ingredients themselves are usually saltier, fattier and sweeter.

 

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