I have recently returned from a few weeks in the states and can honestly say that for the first time in a long time I was shocked (trust me it takes a lot).
We had such an awesome time visiting Orlando, with my best mate and 6 year old son in tow we were ready for an adventure and we definitely had one!!
Arriving home last Friday with a sun kissed glow, a suitcase full of new merchandise from the outlet stores and unfortunately carrying a few extra ‘Orlando pounds’.
Being in the US was a real eye opener to the obesity crisis and the drastic effects that it is having on our health and well being.
It’s a well-known fact that between our 2 nations we have a big problem when it comes to managing our own weight, and that of our children.
I mean no offence to anybody by saying this but there really was far more temptation over the pond. This may only be in certain areas of the USA, I’m not in a position to make claims about an entire nation, that’s not my aim.
From the moment we even boarded the plane we were met with a constant stream of food, drinks, snacks and more food. Way more than we would ever have eaten in a normal 8 hour period.
I was amazed by the constant stream of fast food restaurants that we drove past on our 45 minute journey to the villa. It’s incredible, and very hard to get out of your head when this temptation is right in your face all the time. It really highlighted to me the importance of focusing on your mental strength to resist, instead of trying to stay away from any place that could steer you in the wrong direction.
Obviously we had no will power what so ever and totally over indulged in everything whilst we were there.
The first trip to the Supermarket (we had to hit a Walmart, just to see) was pretty much the same. A lot of the unhealthy food was hard to miss, in big displays right at the entrance, everything in huge multipacks and ridiculously cheap. At the checkout somebody packs your shopping into bags and then even take it to your car for you and loads it into the boot.
Yes this is incredible service but as these little things add up, it results in less effort and therefore a significant reduction in every day movement that is essential to remain functional and healthy.
When you arrive at any of the big parks you are ushered towards boarding a shuttle service that will take you to the entrance of the park, this was usually between 0.5-1km. Again, this is a great idea for those that are less able and really NEED this assistance. But shouldn’t we be encouraged to walk this short distance with our perfectly able legs?
At one point we were yelled at from across from the car park by a shuttle bus driver for attempting to walk, he honestly couldn’t understand why we were choosing to walk!
There are also flat escalators (like at the airport) EVERYWHERE! It’s too tempting (and fun) to resist jumping on one. When I was a kid I used to love walking on them and feeling like you were going super fast! Every time we hopped on one we would have a race with Joey on the opposite escalator travelling in the opposite direction (gave him a pretty good workout), but majority of people seemed to hop on these things and stop
Surely common sense says that it would result in taking you longer than it would have done if you were walking….To me this seems crazy.
At the gates to all the parks you have the option to hire mobility scooters, and we saw A LOT of people on these. Again, not meaning to offend anybody, a lot of people genuinely require the assistance of a mobility scooter to get around the parks, but there were many of people that should not have been issued with one.
We even saw a group of 5 women on mobility scooters who were smoking, they all then proceeded to disembark the scooters to walk to the ashtray, put out their cigarette and then hop back in and drive off!
Attempts to choose healthy food options from any of the vendors within the parks were impossible, even salads were coated with rich dressing, croutons and other hidden treats. In 35C heat, you don’t really want to be carrying food around in a heavy bag that accompanies you on the most of the rides!
Yes these are all excuses, it’s always possible to eat well if you really want to, but in that specific situation it became very hard.
Towards the end of the holiday we were all starting to feel the effects, in our health, energy, state of mind and the waistline…especially Joey.
His behavior was awful, a combination of long days, late nights and in my belief crap food. Joey became very aware of his ‘Orlando Belly’, as did myself and Emily, we could not wait to get home and get back into a good routine. Being exposed to that amount of fast food in a short period gave us such noticeable effects that I truly feel that something has really stuck with us.
Orlando is a huge area packed full of tourist attractions, this isn’t supposed to imply a generalization to anyone from the US as there was such a vast mix of nationalities in a condensed area. Patterns in behavior did become really noticeable and us Brits were no better!
The part that gets me is that this food is not cheap, especially in the parks, so people are willing to spend a little more on food. Why are these parks only encouraging people to eat seriously unhealthy food, when they could easily provide at least a few healthy options based on their current prices they are charging people.
Why are shuttles and moving floors thrust in front of us at every opportunity, when people could be encouraged to get a little light exercise (maybe even walk of that massive Burger and fries they just sold you)?
And do you want to know the best thing that I have learned from this experience?
Start to think to yourself about what is being put in front of you when are you are in these tempting situations. Ask yourself what type of food you would normally find on majority of the carefully positioned, end-of-aisle displays at your local supermarket, full of enticing deals?
Don’t be fooled by what these carefully marketed food providers are telling you, no matter how cheap it is!
If you are careful it is possible to eat a healthy, balanced diet for yourlself and your whole family. Trust me I’ve done it for the last 6 years with Joey, by myself and at times on a very tight budget.
You need to be one step ahead at all times, like a fast food ninja! Plan your daily meals and ingredients you will require for your food shop ahead of time. Prepare a healthy lunch to take on days out and choose restaurants that will provide you with at least the option to eat something that will fit into your nutrition plan.
At Potential PT we are lucky to have some awesome partners working with us, all of these highly respected local businesses can provide you with freshly prepared, locally sourced and nutritious options that can fit into your busy lifestyle.
- Riverford Organic Farms
- The Toll House Cafe
- Paolinos Restaurant
- Tory’s Cafe In The Park