Home What Are You Eating? Worldwide: A Day’s Worth Of Food In Calories

Worldwide: A Day’s Worth Of Food In Calories

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Sent in by reader Aleesa, she said the following:

I’ve been reading through this site, and I thought if you haven’t seen this photo story from TIME, you’d be interested.  It’s not the Hungry Planet series that shows what families around the world purchase to eat, but one about what individuals eat along with thier weights and caloric intake.  It is interesting to find that many people around the wold eat more that 2000 calories a day, but dine on homemade/unprocessed foods and maintain active lifestyles so they remain in a lower weight range.

This series of photographs comes from a book by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio titled “What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets.” I’m getting this darn book.

The link contains Time’s sampling of what’s within this book – 16 different diets of 16 different people across the world, including their height, weight, occupation and a brief explanation of how their diet has affected their lives.

I find a lot of things about this to be interesting:

The lack of sugar in each diet is, dare I say it… jarring. Seriously – I’m pretty sure that the largest amounts of sugar in a diet were probably found in the American diets.

The young girl, Tiffany, who subsists on fast food all day (the college-aged diet?) She seems to be benefitting from the runoff of a high teenaged metabolism, at age 21. As with all people, the more you age, the more you have to change or scale back in the interest of weight management, though… so I guess I’m just curious about that.

Rick, “The Candidate For Obesity Surgery.” I know it’s going to feel like I’m going in on him, but I’m not – there’s just a lot here that I see that sounds vaguely familiar. For starters, he “admitted to lapses of willpower and some days ate much more.” I’m not surprised. Not because “well, he’s fat,” but because I question thelogic behind “just use your will power!!!!”

Secondly, let’s talk about the amount of sugar in his diet… even as his “recommended diet.” The bagel… the granola bar… the Lean Pockets… the “Italian” dressing… the 100 calorie packs… the cookie crisps… the vegetable juice? Lots of hidden sugars. If he’s having lapses in will power, what do you think he might be overindulging on? Probably more sugars.

Thirdly, look at all those brand names. Jennie-O. Smart-beat. Quaker Simple Harvest. Lean Pockets. Green Giant. Ragu. Jell-O. Splenda. Nabisco. Planters.V8. Splenda. There’s about as many brand names here as there are in a grocery store. That’s a LOT.

Now, it says that he has since had the surgery for which he qualified and is at home recovering and losing the weight… and for that, I am glad. I just genuinely hope that he’s also getting some form of therapy to manage the rest.

The 99lb acrobat? Let me tell you something. Any pound of that body that isn’t bone… is muscle. In order to pull off that pose? That girl is all muscle, so that 1700 calories makes a ton of sense. You have to feed muscle if you want it to grow. Pork, eggs, yogurt… all totally make sense to me.

The model who is 5’9.5″ at 135lbs who eats 2400 calories a day… the paragraph at the end of her description said that she “says she felt good about her weight and her health, but lamented that because she was the perfect weight for her size four body, and not skinnier, she was making much less money.” I wonder if she’s active and muscular at all, and that’s why she’s seen as “not skinny enough.” A lot of the models that I know of are her height and around 120lbs or so. It’s wild to me that she’s “not skinny enough.” Yowzers.

There are individuals on this list whose diets go far enough up toward 5,000 calories a day. Fishermen, acrobats, herders… very active people, very active lifestyles. Thoughts?

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CurlieGirlie June 9, 2011 - 1:26 PM

I love this!!!!! I have never felt that we are meant to be hungry, you know? My brothers and I eat A LOT, and people are always commenting on the fact that we each each three meals plus two or three snacks every day, even though we are all super skinny. The thing is, all of our meals are homemade, we don’t eat much sugar, we stay away from processed foods, and most of our snacks are fruits and veggies. Not a single one of us has ever even tasted a twinkie. We are all also very active. I tell people that while I understand and believe in calorie counting, I also think my body knows how much [healthy] food I need to eat.

These people just show that as long as the food you are eating is healthy and you are active, restrictive “diets” aren’t necessary.

Ally June 9, 2011 - 3:03 PM

I had to do a double take for the Ecuadrean mountain farmer because she looked so much like someone in my family. I visit Ecaudor & we go to the mountains, Alausi, for a bullshit that happens in June & my brothers & family are constantly eating.

When I went in middle school I was so sure I was going to gain a ton of weight from eating so much but I ended up losing nearly 30 lbs because I was hiking all over that mountain and then dancing every single night in the street parties. I loved this article bc I just believed that because so many comments in articles & in media say that Americans are over weight I felt like it was due to high calorie diets now I can see that it’s bc they are not physically active – all day every day.

Erika Nicole Kendall June 9, 2011 - 3:12 PM

Is it because “they aren’t physically active all day every day,” or is it because “food is, primarily, fuel, and our fueling levels aren’t accommodating adequate activity levels?” Remember, if you don’t eat it, you don’t have to worry about burning it.

Tiera January 4, 2012 - 7:49 AM

I think many of us are forgetting that we burn calories with everything we do: eat, breathe, shower, clean, sleep, etc. If you know how many calories you burn on average doing normal daily activities, then you will have more insight on how much work you need to do at the gym (unless your profession/hobby requires you to spend x amount of time and energy on weights, etc.). Because metabolic rates vary from person to person, it is important to know that each person will burn a different amount of calories in a given day doing normal activities. Working out and staying active only add to the amount of calories that you’ve already burned which is great! Food is fuel. Proper foods can result in lasting energy. That being said, the more you burn, the more you can and need to eat. The less you burn, the less you need to eat. So to put yourself on “such” a restrictive calorie intake is almost illogical. I’m not saying you should “fire away” with the calories, but don’t be so “restrictive.” Eat according to your activity levels. One day you may be extremely active which would allow you to eat more calories. The next day, you might be a little more relaxed which means eat fewer calories. Either way, these calories should come from healthy, unprocessed foods.

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