I think we’ve found your problem, America.

PG&E shut off our power today from 8am to 5pm. I misread the letter they sent us, thought they were doing it Tuesday, so my husband and I had arranged to be out all day Tuesday, but no, it’s today. So we walked over to the IHOP for breakfast, which is practically 2 blocks from our house, which we have never yet eaten at since we moved here. In fact, I think I have been to an IHOP maybe twice in the last 10 years. I just don’t eat at restaurants very often, and that style of restaurant really at all.

HOLY CRAP. The menu is overwhelming. They now print calorie totals on each item. HOLY CRAP. The item with the lowest calorie total on the entire menu is twice what I normally eat for breakfast. And I assure you, nobody goes to IHOP to order the smallest, healthiest option on the menu. I am appalled, agog, aghast at the menu options I saw this morning. People eat like this? Every day? Regularly? More than once a month? As we settled into our booth a couple left and said to the waitress, “See you tomorrow!” WHAT??

A couple at the next booth over ordered “New York Style cheesecake pancakes”. Cheesecake in pancake form – for breakfast! There was something called “carrot cake pancakes”. “Cinnastick pancakes”. Cream cheese-stuffed french toast! These all come with hash browns, eggs, and bacon, and caloric totals that approach more than I need for an entire day.

Good god I’ve been leading a sheltered life, with my eating-at-home proclivities! I was actually somewhat nauseated by this display. Am I being judgy? Good. I can’t even imagine shoveling this kind of apocalyptic gorge-fest of gluttony into my body on a regular basis. People eat this stuff and think it’s normal?

In sum I think I can answer the question that appears to be flummoxing all the health writers and media hand-wringers. I know why America is fat.


14 Responses to “I think we’ve found your problem, America.”

  1. Tracy Renae Cote Serros Says:

    My husband and I went to IHOP for breakfast on our way home from our out-of-town anniversary trip a couple weeks ago. I don’t know if they all do it, but at this one if you ordered orange juice or coffee, they brought you a carafe or a pot of it! Judging by the service I think it was so they could ignore you longer, but why on earth would one person need THAT much coffee or juice in one sitting??

    We don’t go out to breakfast often, but I’ve been noticing the trend toward printing calories on the menus… Holy crap!!!! It’s amazing that it’s not enough to either shame people into not ordering the eat-your-whole-week’s-worth-of-calories-in-a-sitting breakfasts, or shame the restaurants enough to stop making them! It’s pretty sobering!

  2. Laurie Says:

    White flour, smeared with butter, with sugar poured on top. Not a vegetable for miles around. I just can’t go into places like that, because I still love their pecan pancakes in a highly self-destructive way.

  3. budhaha63 Says:

    Reblogged this on Collected Writing and commented:
    I sometime gorge, but I would say only like once a month. However, I do love food, but I guess I am just not one of those people that must eat a heartattack on a plate.

  4. Francis Classe Says:

    Most definitely – it is a disastrous combination of gross volume (gross being applicable as there is no way the human body needs as much food served as a typical dish in the US) combined with foods having a high caloric content (often due to excess sugars and corn syrup – and yes, I separated the two intentionally). But a lot of it has to do with smart eating, and people are generally lazy when it comes to their food, and it’s easier to just give in to the fat-induced urges.

  5. Caron Says:

    In my younger days I loved the patty melt at IHOP — with fries of course. I have not had that meal in at least 20 years and I know it would be one of those that top out at over 2000 calories. Nope. We don’t do Denny’s either because of the same kind of thing.

  6. Aimz Says:

    The thing is, corn syrup and grain carbohydrates are cheap in the US because they are subsidized. However, in order for IHOP or any such restaurant to convince me to hand over $8.99 for what should be cheap breakfast foods, they have to convince me that it’s a “good deal”, which they do by *SUPERSIZING* the portions and fancifying them with chocolate swirls or cinnamon stick crunch or whatever.
    So instead of $3.99 for two small pancakes and an egg for a small profit after overhead, they pile on a massive amount of cheap carb for proportionally way more profit.
    And through habituation, people think that’s normal.
    (shakes fist)


  7. Yoko Olsgaard Says:

    Try going to a buffet like His Lordship’s in Berkeley. Or any Brunch Buffet and watch what people eat. The quantity is awful, but what they put on their plate is really bad. I noticed that sandwiches in Australia are smaller than ours and have less food in them. Ditto in the UK. So if a guy is REALLY hungry, he just buys an extra one. If everyone is served the starving person’s order and can’t order the senior portion, it is no wonder that America is fat! Shocking, isn’t it? I don’t go to Denny’s, IHOP, Sizzler, Applebees, TGIFriday’s or any of the chains for this reason. Nor do I go to all you can eat buffets. And when I do, I am on the warpath to eating correctly. I remember when Orange Juice started coming out in pitchers or jumbo glasses instead in 3 oz. juice glasses. That was when I started to gain weight. I remember how happy we all were when the portions increased. Now I am so sorry I ate it all.

    • Laina Says:

      I got stuck eating at a Golden Corral once on a cross-country drive, where it was the ONLY restaurant in the ONLY town for 200 miles. What a nightmare!!! Disgusting, vile mountains of what can only loosely be termed “food” and herds of obese people piling it up onto platter-sized plates. There was literally not a single fresh vegetable to be found in the whole place – everything came from vats and cans. I was completely appalled that the people there hadn’t ridden that business out of town on a rail! It was insulting to anybody with a sense of taste or nutrition!

  8. J. Says:

    yep. friendly’s meals (forget the ice cream) are a disaster too. Add ice cream and you could easily be looking at 2500 cals.

  9. snapshotstacy Says:

    I’ve not eaten at an IHOP in several years. I think the last time I was there, I got crepes & took half of them home.
    Usually, if we’re stuck at “one of those” restaurants, we choose Denny’s – where I get grits, a couple of poached eggs, and coffee (and sometimes fruit, if I want the extra carbs).
    Eating out is rediculous. And we used to do it ALL THE TIME! (No wonder I had that 100+ lbs to lose!) We still eat out a couple times a week, but we definitly make better choices now. 🙂

  10. Theresa Hopper Says:

    It’s very difficult when you travel for work AND meet clients and entertain them…… Pub food is even more disgusting than breakfast food. *sigh* you get very odd looks asking for the wing platter with vegetable sticks and blue cheese dressing….. Hold the wings 😉

  11. Donna Says:

    Hi Laina, I thought you might find this article from the BBC interesting

  12. lovelyproject Says:

    Years ago, I remember reading that my favorite meal at Chili’s — chicken crispers with fries, corn on the cob, and ranch for dipping — danced to the tune of some 1,600 calories. And that was before the gallons of coke and the obligatory milkshake dessert. An insane amount of food and an insane amount of calories and fat and sodium. Eating at home is the way to go.

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