Do we have weird eating habits on this country?

(58 Posts)
orangeandlemons Mon 08-Apr-13 17:40:21

Have just returned from a hotel stay. Guy next to us had 2 plates of cooked breakfast. One for himself, and then one we assumed for someone else. However, he ate the first one, then the second, and then went for toast and cereal. I would have been sick. I think this attitude is really pre leant where people have paid for a breakfast, and are determined to eat every bit of it.

Then whilst travelling, all service stations are rammed full to bursting of people buying shed loads of huge bags of sweets. Everyone who passes in a car seems to be scoffing something.

Finally the cinema, how do people afford and eat all that shit? Burgers, dogs, fries, skins, nachos and they just sit there shovelling it in.

Now I am no skinny Minny at all, and am as fond of crap and goodies as the next person, but the nation seems to have turned into some kind of eating machine

orangeandlemons Mon 08-Apr-13 17:40:52


HeySoulSister Tue 09-Apr-13 09:36:51

It's horrible!!

I hate this compulsion to eat eat eat ... No activity can be done without a sugar fix it seems!

Yes definitely. And I say that as a prime fat example of the weird eating habits.

There is a compulsion to snack all the time, as you say, in cars, in cinemas, in parks. As I type this I'm getting ready to take the dds (5 and 1) to meet friends at soft play. I've got a bag of grapes, bananas and breadsticks to take. Why? They've just had breakfast and we'll be getting lunch somewhere. It's madness.

HeySoulSister Tue 09-Apr-13 09:58:36

I'm trying to stop my dc doing this

I remember when I was about 6 the shock when my mum gave me half an apple to eat..... It was mid afternoon, nowhere near any mealtime!!

orangeandlemons Tue 09-Apr-13 11:10:50

Wow that's interesting about the apple. We are a nation of grazers it seems

HeySoulSister Tue 09-Apr-13 11:13:02

It was 1974 and you just didn't snack back then!

I can't remember crisps being sold in multipacks.... Sweets and choc were about 3 shelves in the local shop not 3 massive racks like nowadays.

shrimponastick Tue 09-Apr-13 11:14:41

I agree. Too much eating going on.

However I am as guilty as the next person. (although I draw the line at two breakfasts!)

crypes Tue 09-Apr-13 11:18:01

In the early seventies my mum went food shopping once a week . She meal planned. And at end of week we eat bread and butter as a snack. She just wouldn't if popped out to buy extras before shopping day.

shrimponastick Tue 09-Apr-13 11:19:32

True crypes

I seem to hit the shops every other day - despite having stuff in the freezer and cupboards.

We should all try and not shop for a week and empty out our storecupboards smile Could be some interesting meals.

HeySoulSister Tue 09-Apr-13 11:24:16

shrimp I love doing that.... Emptying the cupboards! But then. Dd comes along and says we should stock up... Just in case, so I panic buy! grin

TheNebulousBoojum Tue 09-Apr-13 11:24:25

I do that every January shrimp, and the couple of times a year we have a lean month due to unexpected cash outlays. Known as Wassin months.
You do end up with some exotic creations. smile

ivykaty44 Thu 11-Apr-13 17:02:45

I was at the gym early this week when I watched a person with two dc put them into towels after they had been in the water and sit them in the female changing rooms and give them food to eat.

As I was drying myself I thought it was strange that the lady wanted them to sit and eat surrounded by sweaty naked bodies and clean bodies also naked - what a bizare thing to do.

Why not wait until they were all ready and go and eat in the cafe at the gym, the benches outside or wait until they got home. There are surely far nicer places to eat than the gym female changing rooms?

TheNebulousBoojum Thu 11-Apr-13 19:00:36

Small, hungry, tired wet children?
if they were under 5, it's the easiest way to keep them quiet and content whilst she got sorted. Like all those experienced parents that meet their reception children with a bread roll or a banana.
Children mostly don't care about their surroundings, it's all about the food. smile

ivykaty44 Thu 11-Apr-13 21:50:01

no I doubt children no any difference about their surroundings for eating and when they grow up they will continue to eat in changing rooms - which is still weird to me.

as for eating in the street after school I am sure it would be fine until they got home.

As someone said further up the thread back in the 70's there wasn't all this snacking between meals and those parents weren't inexperienced

TheNebulousBoojum Thu 11-Apr-13 21:58:10

Yup, I remember the 70s!
I agree that it's daft that people eat huge amounts, constantly, especially as the majority are far less active than they used to be.
I was just trying to think of an explanation for eating in a changing room, which is why I also assumed the children were pre-school.
Most of the reception finish the snack in the playground, it never gets to the street.

devonsmummy Thu 11-Apr-13 22:11:57

We're you in Wales? Could have been my DH!!
He's working away & been posting pics of his breakfast every morning (saddo!)
The other day it was 2 slices of toast 3 fried eggs, beans mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon .... Plus fruit, cereal & toast.
Enough food for an entire day!
I remember years ago in Pizza Hut buffet I was stunned to see a guy go up & put an entire pizza on his plate.
Greed, pure greed.

forevergreek Thu 11-Apr-13 22:17:51

I never snacked as a child on a regular basis, just the transom ice cream on the beach in summer/ cake out with grandparents etc. but def not daily. It hadnt even occurred to me to constantly offer snacks to my children either. They have 3 meals a day, and do have a snack of fruit between 3-4 usually. A friend who visited was horrified when she found out they had breakfast that day at 9am and the next food was about 12.30. 3 1/2 hours without food, it's normal. ( they visited that eve), the same day she said hers of the same age had 7.30 am breakfast, with a snack roughly every hour until lunch, followed by lunch then snacks the same all 7pm they had 3 meals and 9 snacks! That's simply ridiculous. Even 9 apples a day isn't needed

theodorakisses Sat 13-Apr-13 10:44:48

I can remember moaning that I was hungry in the 70s and being told supper was only 3 hours ago and to wait. Imagine saying that to current teenagers! They seem to collapse in a heap of hunger induced weakness if we run out of crisps and only have pringles in the cupboard let alone the shock horror of having to wait for meals!

Trills Sat 13-Apr-13 10:46:27

This is gong to become a smug thread of smugness and generalisations, isn't it?

Because nobody will admit to being part of the "we" who have "weird eating habits". Everyone will just talk about how some other people in this country have weird eating habits.

Gerrof Sat 13-Apr-13 10:49:50

I think snacking is the devil.

There is no need to have a constant supply of food. Just have a drink or go a bit hungry until your next meal.

I am by nature a greedy git and used to snack, but realised how pointless and unhealthy it was.

YonilyDevotedToYou Sat 13-Apr-13 11:01:29

The other thing I notice as a teacher is the kids (secondary) buying masses of snacks in the corner shop near school and eating them all day. On my way to school at 7.30am I quite often pass kids eating crisps or sweets.

Now comparing this to being at school in the 90s, I quite clearly remember popping into the shop at the age of 16 on the way home from a GCSE exam and buying a packet of crisps. I rremember this because it was the first time I had ever done so.

YonilyDevotedToYou Sat 13-Apr-13 11:05:05

The other thing I notice as a teacher is the kids (secondary) buying masses of snacks in the corner shop near school and eating them all day. On my way to school at 7.30am I quite often pass kids eating crisps or sweets.

Now comparing this to being at school in the 90s, I quite clearly remember popping into the shop at the age of 16 on the way home from a GCSE exam and buying a packet of crisps. I rremember this because it was the first time I had ever done so. I don't know whether it was just me, but it didn't really occur to me that it was possible to buy snacks- when I was young, whatever I ate was provided from home, apart from a few sweets, and I spent my money on clothes, tapes (!) and magazines. Nowadays it seems that DC must spend a vast proportion of their money on snacks.

YonilyDevotedToYou Sat 13-Apr-13 11:05:34

Whoops, sorry for double post.

I was watching a documentary the other day on YouTube, which stated that the 'snack' was a construct of food manufacturers, developed in the 70s, in order to be able to sell us more. Hence the Milky Way ads that said 'the treat you CAN eat between meals'. I don't remember snacks at all as a child (in the 60s). For years I wondered why Americans always seemed to eat popcorn when they went to the 'movies' - and then cinemas in the UK started selling the stuff too. I never picked up that habit, but am sure I would have done if I'd been born a few years later.

My theory is that the 'need' to snack has come about because of all the sugar in processed foods. It makes your blood glucose levels swing wildly up and down, creating a kind of false hunger when there is no actual shortage of fuel for your body.

Not being smug (have spent the majority of the past 30 years either obese or overweight) but I'm existing quite happily on 2 meals a day now, so long as the first one is a fat and protein filled breakfast smile I just don't get hungry for more, which is nice!

mybelovedmonster Sat 13-Apr-13 11:12:39

I think snacking is evil. We never smacked as children (70s and early 80s) and I'm always baffled when friends are constantly offering snacks to their preschoolers. The odd pack of raisins is one thing, but no 3yo needs a handful of babybels, a pack of quavers, endless biscuits etc.

I hate buffet greed as well. Just because its all you can eat, doesnt mean you need to go up 4 times and fill your plate. Its just fucking greedy.

I think lots of us have forgotten how to eat what we need, and feel compelled to eat piles of food just because its there.

mybelovedmonster Sat 13-Apr-13 11:13:35

Argh, snacked, obviously. Damn phone.

BettyandDon Sat 13-Apr-13 11:17:06

Well I grew up in the 70s. I used to walk to school with a friend (which I wasn't allowed to do) purely to buy sweets and crisps at the shops on the way. We would scoff them at play times aswell as selling them smile.

I had fabulous snacks when I got home too. My mother started this as I didn't like school when I was 5, but somehow I got the treats till I was 16.

I don't think it's changed that much. Isn't eating 5/6 times not better than 3 large meals?

BettyandDon Sat 13-Apr-13 11:19:01

I think I was 8 when I started the snack attack business, so not a teenager.

BreasticlesNTesticles Sat 13-Apr-13 11:20:08

Well I was at secondary school in the 90's and I remember kids buying shed loads of crisps and chocolate, we had an ice cream van that used to come in and sit on the school field!

We had a tuck shop at secondary but not at primary I don't think, I didn't go if we did, but I used to buy 10p packets of crisps when I was older. I think schools are definitely more switched on to healthy eating now than when I was at school which has to be a good thing.

I also don't think snacking is bad if you are hungry. Snacking because you are bored or out of habit isn't good.

mybelovedmonster Sat 13-Apr-13 11:20:41

I don't think it is better (not for me anyway). Its just more opportunity to shovel more calories down your neck - its much easier to stick to a sensible amount of food if you just eat 3 normal meals.

BreasticlesNTesticles Sat 13-Apr-13 11:22:44

Acually that's reminded me of a boy that used to take my mums sweets off her when she walked home from school and she's 70 so obv not a new thing grin

theodorakisses Sat 13-Apr-13 11:26:47

If shared memories and experiences are smug, so be it. I would never log into MN expecting a smug moratorium, it would be like asking our price not to sell music or greigs not to sell anything beige.

Trills Sat 13-Apr-13 11:31:15

Sharing memories isn't smug. The disingenuous use of the word "we" (that doesn't actually include the person speaking) is smug.

LifeofPo Sat 13-Apr-13 11:31:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FunnyLittleFrog Sat 13-Apr-13 11:33:49

FurryDogMother - was going to post the same. I agree with your theory about the sugar.

If I start the day unhealthily (e.g. a typical weekend breakfast like a croissant with jam) I end up snacking all day - just can't seem to stop eating. On a normal work day however I'll have a protein based breakfast without carbs and I just seem to be able to fire on for hours without much more.

In the 80s people just didn't snack like now. At the cinema you'd maybe have a small bag of sweets. No snack at break at school -just wasn't heard of. No multi-packs or special offers.

I think I was quite clear in including myself in the weird eating habits brigade. I've yet again sent the girls off with DH to the park with nappies, wipes etc and a bag of snacks. They'll be back in time for lunch.

Trills Sat 13-Apr-13 11:37:45

No snack break at school in the 80s? In my primary school in the 80s there was a break in the morning and any child who did not have a bag of crisps for that break would have been thought unusual.

Scruffalo Sat 13-Apr-13 11:44:44

FurryDogMother was the documentary called The Men Who Made Us Fat? I watched it on tv last year, and as a biochemist, agreed with a lot of its findings. A diet that includes a large proportion of simple and refined sugars (especially fructose IIRC) has confused our body's normal hunger signals. It causes low blood sugar levels between meals, which leads to snacking, often on more high sugar foods. However, while they relieve the problem in the short term, they will again cause a dip in sugar levels a few hours later and more snacking. Over the course of a day it leads to a far higher total calorie intake.

I would definitely recommend it to others to watch as it is an eye-opener. I think it also covered other 'tricks of the industry' e.g. sugary drinks (I like to call these liquid food) and 'diet' foods' that have had fat removed and lots of sugar added. All of it designed to make us eat and more importantly buy more of their products.

theodorakisses Sat 13-Apr-13 11:47:16

scruff, also "Fork over knife", that was amazing.

FunnyLittleFrog Sat 13-Apr-13 11:49:10

Maybe it was just my school. School dinners / packed lunch at dinner time and that was it. Apart from when we had cake sales and once someone made popcorn for charity which was excitement indeed!

At secondary there was a tuck shop. 5p Pickled Onion Meanies, 5p Highland Toffee and 5p blue ice pops! Still, they were small (tiny) portions and nowhere near the huge amounts kids seem to eat now when a whole tube of Pringles doesn't seem to be unusual.

Gerrof Sat 13-Apr-13 11:54:08

There was a tuck shop in my junior school, kids could choose from frazzled, space invaders, transformers as, tangy toms, Jaffa cakes and Maryland cookies. Can you imagine that today!

In senior school the tuck shop progressed to pot noodles and cup a soups, as well as a full array of sweets and chocolates.

If I didn't spend my pound dinner money on getting a taxi to school because I couldn't be arsed to walk up the hill I lunched for 5 years on pot noodles, chips or, memorably, I went through a phase of buying 5 packets of space invaders, some sesame snaps and a doughnut for my lunch.

I grew up with terrible eating habits, inherited from a gran who cooked inedible austerity food and then went on a mad trolley dash of goodies which would be devoured in days. She was a product of rationing I think.

So I blame the war.

Gerrof Sat 13-Apr-13 11:55:34

Highland toffee and wham bars, I am amazed I still have teeth in my head. The highland toffee had a texture of nearly set Tarmac on a road.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Sat 13-Apr-13 12:18:40

I think we have quite fucked up compared to many other nations- mainly in terms of snacking constantly and not sitting down to eat proper meals. I live in Asia and eating lunch at your desk really doesn't happen. People will get take out, but they'll go and sit in the kitchen area or outside and eat. They also never snack- they have piles of chocolates and sweets from clients that just sit there- no-one ever eats them. In a UK office they'd be gone by home time.

I do also think that the fact that food got nicer is to blame. When dinner was basically meat, boiled potatoes and carrots, the temptation to overeat was pretty limited. I remember spending most childhood meals begging to "get down"

ivykaty44 Sat 13-Apr-13 16:24:47


If your mum is 70 then sweets would have been rationed most of her childhood due to the war - I take it she was born in 1943, so the other boy was probably just as excited about sweets as they were so rare back then and they really were a new thing for a lot of children who hadn't ever lived without rationing of sweets.

sittinginthesun Sat 13-Apr-13 16:42:42

I agree OP. I'm always amazed by the number of people eating as they walk down the street, or those who start a packet of biscuits in the supermarket.

I don't remember snacking at primary school, but we certainly did at secondary (I was born in 1971). Tuck shop with amazing cakes with artificial cream, and sugar toast at home! But we also ate a huge amount of fruit. I was always told it was cheaper than biscuits, so we had to fill up on apples before we were allowed near the biscuit tin.

Trills Sat 13-Apr-13 18:01:30

Robert Crampton wrote a wonderful article in The Times (now behind the paywall) about how food had just got so much nicer since his childhood in the 70s.

Greek yoghurt, peshwari naans, muesli, deep-fried Camambert with jam, dauphinoise potatoes.

It ends with

I suppose my point is that, growing up, I thought, say, shepherd’s pie was the best food ever. And then gradually these other temptations – even tastier, and much more calorific – arrived or became affordable. So, all told, when I read about the current plague of obesity, I don’t think: why are so many people so enormously fat? Rather, I think: shouldn’t the majority of us who aren’t enormously fat be heartily congratulated on our phenomenal self-control?

I think it starts in childhood. I rarely see a mum without a bag of snacks for their child. Children can actually leave the house for a few hours without a food supply...

However, I'm sure MN mums only carry organic rice cakes wink

Wishihadabs Sat 13-Apr-13 18:16:31

Yes, completely weird. Our family eat at 4 times during the week and twice at the weekend. Breakfast at 7:30 lunch at 12:30, snack at 4pm and dinner at 7:30. At the weekend brunch at 10-11 am and dinner at 7:30 (sometimes with a snack at 4). Eating outside these times is strange to us.

TSSDNCOP Sat 13-Apr-13 18:21:16

I grew up in the 70's and 80's.

We would have had biscuits and squash in the house, but no chocolate, crisps etc that it seems routine to buy in the supermarket.

There were certainly no snacks at Primary school. Occasionally there would be a tuck shop and it would be talked about for days in advance.

Occasionally bought sweets after school, but agin that would be 1p sweets like black jacks and fruit salad rather than crisps and chocolate.

We simply didn't have the money in the 70's I think.

There was more in the 80's, but I think travel especially to the US increased and so our tastes became more exotic.

Shall we blame Mrs Thatcher, she seems to have copped it for every other ill of the 80's this week grin

HandMini Sat 13-Apr-13 18:37:46

I will stick my head above the parapet and say that we snack and I like it that way.

I'm at home with two toddlers and I like the rhythm it gives our day. Breakfast is at 0730, lunch at midday and tea at 1730. We sit down at a little table and chairs at about 10 and about 3 and share a plate of sliced fruit/cheddars/rarely something sweet. I have a massive mug of tea, they have water in sippys.

It's sociable and it reminds them to drink some water.

I don't allow snacking in buggy, but we would frequently walk to park and have our morning or afternoon snack in the park on a bench.

As long as you "allow" for the snack calories, I think it's nice.

nooka Sat 13-Apr-13 18:55:48

When my children were little snacks were essential especially after exercise so I would have been that mum giving a their dc food in the changing room, and on pick up from school. If I hadn't then ds in particular would have totally flaked out. When I was growing up if I didn't have a fairly steady food intake I had a tendency to faint, and we know not eating enough is a trigger for dd's migraines now.

I don't see food as the enemy, but I come from a tall thin active family. Re eating habits my school in the 80s served chips every day and most of my friends visited the newsagent for snacks every morning and afternoon.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Sun 14-Apr-13 09:07:17

Perhaps it's not kids snacking that's the change since the 1970's, but people continuing to snack as adults- i.e. instead of stopping snacking, they carried on. Now, here's a suggestion. Put obesity rates and smoking rates on a graph, and I imagine there would be a statistically significant correlation. I think in the 1970's around 50% of British adults smoked. That's now 10%. Obesity rates have gone the other way.

One public health crisis for another. The grim reaper is a creative dude grin

Yep Scruffalo it was The Men Who Made Us Fat - all 3 episodes are available on YouTube, and I found them very interesting.

Wishihadabs Mon 15-Apr-13 19:03:12

Just watched the men who made us fat. I have been thinking about this thread, the program seemed to suggest that children eating treats after school was an ad man's invention. Do you think this is true ? As a child in the 80's we always had something when we came in from school like crumpets, tea cakes or sometimes just toast and jam. I don't think this is a new thing. Ds is horrible if he doesn't have something quick release e.g.; sugar and starch between 330 and 4pm.

ivykaty44 Mon 15-Apr-13 20:37:20

thats cos his lunch has let him crash, so by 330-4 he is really low and instead of looking at feeding him t this point look at the food and amount he had at lunch, if you want to dont mean that in bossy way.

Theproblem at school is the children want to eat their lunch quickly otherwise they miss out on play time - sop perhaps dont eat enough at this time.

Wishihadabs Mon 15-Apr-13 21:34:09

Well I have limited control over how much lunch he eats. I just don't think this is a new thing.

nooka Tue 16-Apr-13 06:50:48

My ds would crash by that time even if he'd eaten a good lunch full of low GI goodness. He was just very active and had a fast metabolism. Although I agree at school sitting down and eating lunch wasn't his top priority.

I always had toast and jam or peanut butter, apples and digestive biscuits (not many treats in our house growing up) when I came home from school in the 70s/80s. Plus as a teen I had a roll with honey at break time. And I bought chocolate from the sweetshop if I could scrounge enough money!

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