Thursday, October 28, 2010

weighing heavy

Newspaper layout editors are a frustrated lot.

That is the only conclusion I can draw from an odd juxtaposition in today's local newspaper.  Someone is laughing under his green eye shade.

Story number one, by itself, falls into the "frat boy wants to makes good" category.

"Mexico aims to build record-setting burrito"

You can almost write the story yourself.  Someone wants to get his nombre into the Guinness Book of World Records.  And what better way than food?

Next month, 3000 people are going to roll out the burrito in Mexico.  Well, roll up the burrito.

2.7 kilometers worth of burrito.  (That's 1.7 miles for those of us still stuck with the English system -- even though the English are not.)  That is 700 meters of 12-inch wide (to mix my systems) burrito.

Enough beans, cheese, sour cream, and tortillas to --  Well, to match up with the story just across the page:

"One taco too many"

Mexico is fast pulling up on the United States to earn the award for most obese nation. 

So, says a recent OECD report.  Seven out of ten Mexican adults are overweight; three out of ten are obese.  Mexico actually has a higher portion of "overweight" citizens than does the United States.  Even though the United States holds wheezingly holds the obese title.

I can empathize.  During my six-month sojourn north of the border, I have managed to regain the thirty pounds I lost when I moved to Mexico last year.  And I know why. 

My broken right ankle was an obvious cause.  In Mexico I walked everywhere in my village.  In Oregon, I could not move around without crutches.

But that excuse is dead.  I have been able to get around quite well recently.

The major cause has been my diet.  I have been eating all sorts of foods I cannot get in Mexico.  And they all have two common ingredients: fat and salt.  Sitting at a computer desk all day indulging in nervous eating has strained my belt line.

The good thing is when I return to Mexico, I will be able to shed the pounds again.

But my Mexican neighbors will continue to gain weight.  And there is a price to pay.  Diabetes is the top cause of hospital admissions after childbirth in Mexico, and the second-biggest cause of death.

Mexican food can be high in fats.  Tacos.  Enchiladas.  Refritos.  All cooked with lard.  They are partly to blame.  But those foods have long been part of the Mexican diet.

What has changed is the convenience of middle class living.  Mexicans are learning that food does not need to take a long time to cook.  The resulting reliance on processed and junk foods adds to the weight problem. 

But the Mexican medical community has fingered one food as the main problem: refrescos.  Sugary soft drinks.  Fizzy or still.  But sweeter than your first kiss.

Add an ever-growing sedentary lifestyle in front of the television, and you have -- the second most obese country in the world.

But, just like The States, the problem appears to be somewhat regional.  In my seaside village, most young people are as fit as California surfers in the 50s.  That may be because that is what they are.  The young are active beach people.

Drive a few miles from the beach and people start looking as if they had just driven in from Wisconsin.  (Yeah. Yeah.  I know.  But Mississippi has taken enough hits.)

And for all of the recent ballyhoo from America's first lady to have Mexico join the Get Slim plan (something most of us in Mexico interpret as a revenge plot on Telemex), Mexico will enjoy growing cheek to cheek with its portly neighbor to the north.

As for me, I long ago learned a simple trick.  If you want to look slim -- hang out with fat people.


Anonymous said...

My ex-sisterlaw nearly 40 years ago told me the same trick, I was always conscious of my size and looks and she told me the same thing, hang out with ugly, fat people! Our humor collides again. Just love your blog, it is getting addictive. And your blog list is fab.
You know the people here also need to cut out the soft drinks, even diet sodas are harmful, either the aspartame or cocoa cause weight gain.
Oops, have to tell you, listening to Josh Grobin right now and my new little guppy, I swear did a back flip.
No not puppy, guppy, just an FYI. LOL! Marilyn

Rosas Clan in Tulum said...

fantastic line at the end there- haha. I think that thing that is vastly missing in the food in Mexico are veggies. My husband told me about his typical meals and then were never veggies- except the occasional pico.

I make a lot of veggie soups and dishes and my nieghbors cannot figure out how I get my kids to eat them- it is simple- I am not a restaurant and do not real care if they do not love it. if they are hungry they will eat it.

I do love how much more we do outside living here though- both the beach and riding bikes. I am glad to hear that your leg is better.

Leah said...

Love Rosas Clan's Comment. Very true. My in-laws never eat veggies and think I'm strange for wanting them, especially leafy greens. They also feed the little nephew pure junk food, because well, that's what he wants! ;-)

Gloria said...

Well there is such a thing as "moderation." If we followed that rule we would all be just fine and dandy. I mean who wants to be called "fat." Not me said she. Tee hee. I have gained a few pounds here and there, but I haven't been exercising as much as I should and I do cook Mexican food, after all I am Mexican, but I don't use the big "L" lard. I take that back, I used 2/3 of a cup of lard on the tamale masa a couple weeks ago. Oh well nuff said. Glad your foot is better and stay away from "fatty" foods. Take care. You know, we only live once and darn I want to be able to enjoy all the good things there are to eat, moderation moderation moderation....

Anonymous said...

Ha! Loved the last line!!!!

Steve Cotton said...

Marilyn -- Tricks of life are free on this site.

Rosas Clan -- My first maid was amazed at the amount of vegetables I used in my cooking. Her idea of a good dish was beans and beef. The only vegetable that has disappointed me in Mexico is the tomato. But if things work well, I may grow my own when I return.

Leah -- Kids and candy seems to be a natural combination in Mexico -- not that young Americans are any healthier.

Gloria -- Moderation is highly overrated. If it is good, it deserves my full attention.

Alee' -- Of course, I always feel much heavier when I stand next to svelte folks like you. Are you going to be over at Donna's before I head south?

Anonymous said...

The obesity epidemic in both Mexico and the USA can be blamed on one food only: SUGAR.

Sugar, of course, includes high-fructose corn syrup, which in your body is exactly the same as sucrose, table sugar.

No matter how thin you might be or how much you exercise, sugar creates fat in your body due to the biochemistry of its digestion.

There are Eskimo tribes that eat copious amounts of seal blubber and seal meat, but they aren't fat. It's not the fat in our diets that makes us fat.


And unfortunately, most of us have a great liking for sugar.

And Femsa (Coca Cola's branch in Mexico) is one of Mexico's most successful businesses, and produced a president to boot.

This does not bode well for the Mexican waistline.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where, once we severely cut back on sugar, lost about 10 pounds.

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- I am not a fan of sweetness. But it is next to impossible to avoid corn sugar in American processed foods or in some restaurants. The same problem is quickly spreading across Mexico. Not taking time to cook my own food in Oregon is a contributing cause -- including, simply eating too much. I find it easier to avoid junk food in Mexico -- solely because I am tired of chili-lime flavored everything. And I take the time to cook my own food there -- mainly vegetable-based stir fry. There is no reason I cannot eat that way here -- other than my own lack of discipline and willingness to be a slave to the clock.

Islagringo said...

Diabetes is on the rise here on the island. More cases diagonosed every week and they just can't figure out why! Ask me, ask me! Coke and chips for breakfast is not a bit unusual. I agree with the vegetables comment. They are quite common on restaurant menus here now, but I remember the day one could not be found.

Re: the last line. Are you trying to say that I am going to look skinny in a few days? LOL!

Anonymous said...

I have been disappointed in Mexican tomatoes also. Has anyone had good ones?

Steve Cotton said...

Islagringo -- I see the Coke and chips combination for breakfast a lot in Melaque. Often topped off with a piece of cake or flan.

Carpenter -- I understand heirloom tomatoes are available in Chapala.