Are You Inside A Bubble?

September 12, 2013   24 Comments

Guess where Snack Girl took this photo. Was she in Las Vegas? Omaha? Memphis?

Comfort Food Bubble

Nooooo. I was in a land far far away from the United States. I mean FAR. Try to imagine sitting on a plane for 15 hours to get there.

Okay, feel the pain in your rear section? Now, imagine where you land. This photo is of a 7-Eleven in Melbourne, Australia. And, yes, I visited Melbourne to take photos of convenience stores (actually, I was visiting my husband’s family - but the reason I was there doesn’t matter).

First of all, I want to apologize on behalf of the entire United States for sending Slurpees and Krispy Kreme to Australia. I am sure that Australia would like to avoid an obesity epidemic and American corporations need to sell this stuff everywhere.

Secondly, I want to admit to driving slowly by a Krispy Kreme outlet in a small southern town in which I used to live hoping that the HOT sign would be red.

What I want to talk about is the bubble that we all find ourselves in. Almost anywhere we go we can find the things that make us feel comfortable. Especially, the junk food that reminds us of home.

Another example - in 1989, I spent 4 months in Paris for a study abroad program. Guess what I found on one of the most iconic streets, the Champs Elysee? A McDonald’s!! I was shocked. How could the land of haute cuisine have this American outlet of junk on this boulevard? This McDonald’s did serve beer to twenty year olds so that part was cool :)

I have been lucky in my life to travel to beautiful places. But, even if I am just driving by the 7-Eleven on my block, I need to choose not to eat the junk food they promote.

It isn’t always easy to eat healthy and you have to do some work to pop your bubble. It isn’t comfortable to say “no” to this stuff everywhere you turn. If you are like me, you notice advertisements for junk food on every sign, bus, and storefront in every country and place you visit.

You have to be strong enough to walk, drive, run, or hobble past to find a place with food that is nourishing.

How have you dealt with your bubble?

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 24 )

The most beautiful McDonald's in the world is in Verona, Italy. It is down the street from the gorgeous Nespresso store. I looked the other way. But the sameness carries over to the clothing stores - Gap, Diesel, etc. You need to push to get out of the bubble but it is worth it.

I deal with my bubble daily. And it's not a bubble I think will ever truly pop for me, even though I've lost a significant amount of weight and changed my eating habits. Constant persistence is my key!

I wish I had help popping that bubble... can't fitbit make a device that shocks you when you get too close to McD's or the donut places?

I must say that I was very happy to find a McDonalds in England though. The home town cuisine was not to my liking at all.

I stopped at a 7 Eleven last week when I ran out of coffee at home, and was delighted to find a basket of fresh bananas at the counter :)

Also, Robi, that Fitbit comment made me laugh-snort at work haha that's amazing and I totally agree!!

I think 711 can be found in many countries. For instance, Japan has had 711 for over 30 years. Their tv ads are presented with Japanese women singing a happy little high pitched ditty about the stores. These stores sell many types of Japanese foods and very few American foods. Japan does not have an obesity problem and 711 and McD certainly have not made a difference in this area. Part of the problem in the U.S. is that many people are not as active as we drive everywhere. In countries like Japan, many people bike and walk to their respective destinations. This makes a huge difference. If you want to have some fun, go to Google Earth and pick a destination in any city they present and take a "walk" on certain streets. I think you will be surprised at what you see.

I recently have made plans to return to Japan. It has grown considerably since I was there and it is fun to see American landmarks and familiar American businesses. Obesity is in the hands of the individual and the choices they make not what a company sells.

I would buy one a fitbit like that! Only so long as it would not shock you when the HOT light was on at krispy kreme!

I saw a few Burger Kings & subways when I was in South America a few years ago. Subway isn't too bad by comparrison to other fast food & convenience places as far as finding something healthier on the go. But I don't rely on fast food or convenience stores for the most part and prefer local or non-chain places anyway. Besides,one of the ideas of traveling to foreign places or even somewhere different within the country is to try new things that you may not find back home. When I was in Peru & Bolivia I ate what the locals ate & it was way better than the fast food we have here. I even had some healthier cuisine,such as this really good chicken soup with yuca & quinuoa.. I also spoiled myself on not-so healthy stuff like Salteneas(like an empenada)But a little indulgence isn't too bad!

I guess what I'm trying to say is be a little adventurous & if you want to get out of the bubble of being lured by places that sell junk just ignore it and venture somewhere different & think of it as getting out of a rut. And while trying to find healthier things to eat you may discover that it may even taste better than the typical junk food.

Yup saw McDonald's at airport and in several places along South Africa when we were there a few years ago. Was a bit surprised. It felt like a piece of home in a strange surrounding but we stuck to real food, regional food in the area. That food doesn't satisfy me for long!

The McDonalds (many of them) in Rome are a step above-offering wonderful coffees and pastries in addition to their normal fare. However you almost need a reservation (kidding of course) to get in as they are always packed and extremely busy. Nothing wrong with having a burger occasionally - just don't supersize it. Sometimes it's a comfort to me to see a familiar place when traveling extensively.

Lisa, I can so relate to your point, about our major corporations contributing so greatly to the obesity epidemic, and not stopping in our own country, but going worldwide. Cheap junk food with next to no nutrition, that is so readily available and affordable, has to be one of the largest contributors to this problem. Particularly so for poorer people in our country, where we see even higher numbers of overweight people. I wish a major-player politician would come along who could work on this problem. In the meantime, I consider myself blessed that I gave up junk food entirely 20 years ago, and for the most part have

"raised" a son & husband who feel the same way. Although they are not perfect, thank goodness for Panera Bread & Subway. Why haven't more fast food healthy places popped up?

PS Lisa ... absolutely love your site!!

India has McDonalds everywhere these days - especially in the bigger cities. They however modify their menu based on the local preferences. For example they offer vegetarian burgers made of potatoes and veggies and all their vegetarian foods are cooked/fried and stored separately from the meat products (to cater to the large vegetarian population). In fact I would anyday eat at a McDonald's in India than in the US. As a vegetarian, the fast food places here have few options for me.

Btw Snack Girl - you have some nice stuff going here. I enjoy reading your posts very much and find them to be very helpful :)

Oh, yea .. there was a McDonald's across from the Pantheon in Rome Italy when I visited in 1998 .. gawd, I hope it's gone.


I had one of my coworker who is from Central America say her country is slowly getting rid of the 'siesta' which she feels is a huge mistake. They are becoming like USA with working straight why anyone would want to be like the USA is beyond me when we are over stressed and have the highest rate of folks on anti depressants! No family time all because we work like crazy! UGH!

Interestingly enough, the overall chain of stores is now owned (Since the end of 2005) by the Japanese firm Seven-Eleven Japan Co. which is then owned by Seven & I Holdings Co.of Japan.

I was in Amsterdam last summer and took a picture of a Domino's Pizza right next door to a.... Weight Watchers! While the city was filled with more bicycle traffic than cars, they are clearly still dealing with the same issues as we are here in the US. :(

It is called capitalism - these companies are able to spread throughout the globe because people buy their product. The only thing that will change this is if people make healthier choices for themselves and thier families, despite what is being advertised or what is most convenient. The obesity problem is not due to these companies, it is due to people making bad decisions for themselves and their families.

Thanks Lisa for helping to encourage healthy choices!

The bubble will pop trust me. I am way older than probably anyone on this site. Today I would have to be starving to go into any fast food place or eat any commercial junk food. Now I can do a number on chips, salsa and guacamole, and always have to be careful around cheese, but real junk food no way.

I also studied abroad in Paris when I was younger (and, in fact, have also lived in a small southern town, though we were too small to have a Krispy Kreme). I will admit that it was occasionally comforting to be able to go to McD's in the midst of a semester abroad. The food made it feel very much like stepping into the US (though they did have a mayo- based "sauce frites" that was different -- and I'm sure very high cal).

>They did serve beer at this McDonald’s to twenty year olds so that part was cool :)

Do you think it is "cool" that 49,000 people die every year in France from alcohol consumption? That's more than in the United States, a country with a much bigger population. That's 13% of male deaths and 5% of female deaths. Forty percent of these deaths occur under the age of 65.

Even though consumption has dropped dramatically in France, it remains one of the world's heaviest drinking countries. It's a big problem there, and the easy availability of alcoholic beverages has contributed to it.

I don't expect to read this kind of stuff on a website that claims to be supporting healthy lifestyles.

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