I moved to a metropolitan city with a lively food culture for two reasons. I love to eat and I was obsessed with meeting the kind of people Anthony Bourdaine got to interview in his popular Netflix series No Reservations. I worked in food service most of my life as a creative gig economy worker so I was intrigued to find out which cities were “foodie-friendly” without having disastrous side effects on my health and waistline.
According to a new report from ApartmentGuide, these are the 6 worst cities to move to if you’re trying to keep off troublesome weight.
1. Orlando, Florida
Home of Disney World and various other tourist attractions Orlando ranks as the worst city to hold residence if you want to keep off that quarantine-15; here’s why. According to research, this city has the most restaurants per Capita; a whopping 92.99% in fact. How did we come up with that figure?
Orlando has a population of about 287,000 people with about 2,600 restaurants that mean there’s an average rate of 93 restaurants per 10,000 people.
Even more troubling is the fact that nearly one-third of those restaurants are chain restaurants. These restaurants tend to be generous with portion size but light on providing nutrient-rich healthy culinary options for consumers.
Stuffing yourself full of empty carbohydrates and high-fructose corn syrup, a cheap alternative most fast-food restaurants resort to keep the bottom line and overhead costs low, are detrimental to your health.
Having so many unhealthy readily available options at your fingertips is dangerous to those susceptible to developing diabetes, heart disease, and other obesity-related ailments. Eating sugary substance-less sustenance is detrimental to your cognitive function as well.
“Of those, 2,600 restaurants in Orlando (good for 12th-most in the U.S.) are nearly 900 chain establishments, the nation’s eighth-most. Kids want familiar Big Macs, not an unknown local bistro,” says Michael Hochman, the author of the study The Best Cities for Foodies in America.
2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh is beloved for its indulgent sloppy sandwiches scene. I’m salivating while listing some of Pittsburgh staple dishes such as hoagies stuffed with meats, cheeses, and greasy fries at local favorite the Primanti Brothers. There’s a big Midwest influence that celebrates Polish and other Eastern European dishes like pierogies, stuffed cabbage, smoked sausages, and other enticing yet artery-clogging dishes.
I’d suggest visiting Pittsburgh on one of your cheat days because dense meat, cheeses, and processed carbohydrates are sure to tighten the waistline of your jeans. If you have any history of cardiovascular issues I’d check with your doctor before ordering that decked out cheesesteak piled with gravy and French fries galore!
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
Ranking in at number 3 for the worst city to live in for the weight-conscious is tourist-trap Las Vegas. They call it sin city for a reason. Alongside the vibrant gambling scene, they are on par with Orlando and Miami, Florida when it comes down to most restaurants Per Capita.
Tourist areas tend to offer more recognizable fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell due to widespread national brand recognition. Also purchasing a happy meal for your kids after pouring money down the drain at the race track seems like the best idea at the time.
The gambling, drinking, quick fix and food culture celebrated in Vegas is the reasoning behind ranking it number three as the worst place to keep healthy. It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t dare live there as a health-conscious individual. Michael Hochman adds,
“As far as Vegas, it’s simply a numbers game. Having a slew of dining destination options is one of the key factors in its tourist popularity. In a city with a population of just 650,000, there are nearly 4,000 restaurants, good for sixth-most in the nation.”
Having such easy access to unhealthy food and drink options make it impossible to avoid the temptation of eating fast food daily. However, loading up on fast food options daily is not a good option as daily consumption of dangerous chemicals, additives, and dyes rampant in low-cost food options have adverse effects on your mental clarity, goals in keeping fit, and productivity levels.
4. Houston, Texas
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the portion size of most meals. Houston is also home to the most chain restaurants compared to other cities.
“For sheer numbers, Houston has the most chain restaurants overall, the only city in the nation with more than 2,000 chains.”
The most popular chains according to surveys are Applebee’s, In-N-out Burger, Paulie’s Poboys and Texas Roadhouse all chains featuring calorie-loaded, heart attack inducing staples like fried fish and chicken sandwiches, cheese-covered side dishes, and burgers fried in grease and smothered in gravy served with a Coke sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup.
Wow, now that’s a lot of empty calories to take in at most meals where citizens drive to most of these locations.
5. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Midwest cuisine is truly something to behold. Temperatures drop to dangerously low levels in Minnesota and those who’ve watched Fargo know this already. Warm and hearty dishes are usually a staple in cooler climes such as Minneapolis and the food speaks to the need for comfort food options.
The author of The Best Cities for Foodies in America agrees adding, “Hot, fresh carb-and-protein heavy food is central to the cuisine scene of Minneapolis, from German favorites like rippchen, knackwurst and Wienerschnitzel to locally-sourced wild black rice soups, deep-fried cheese curds and walleye fritters. Of course, Scandinavian influence is predominant with Nordic dishes like lefse, lutefisk, pickled herring, gravlax and Swedish meatballs found in restaurants across the city.”
While this sounds incredible keep in mind that high carb, deep-fried diets can lead to obesity if you don’t incorporate moderate exercise from time to time.
6. Rochester, New York
Rochester makes number 6 on this list solely because of the existence of this local dish aptly dubbed “the garbage plate.”
What does the garbage plate entail?
“A garbage plate, for the uninitiated, is everything a hearty, hard-working Western New Yorker would want in one dish: one or an assortment of meats including hamburger, Italian sausage, steak, chicken or uncured, unsmoked hotdogs called hots (or occasionally a grilled cheese, fish or eggs) atop a base of French fries, home fries, baked beans and macaroni salad. The entire dish is then often smothered with onions, mustard and Rochester hot sauce, a greasy, spicy sauce with bits of meat and served with sliced white bread and butter.”
So it’s basically an “everything but the kitchen sink” cuisine that would leave dieticians shuddering at the thought of consuming so many unhelpful foods to help serve our metabolic functions. It sounds delicious to me but don’t tell my primary care doctor I said that.
I know it’s tough to avoid comfort foods, especially during trying times, but I urge you to think twice before heading to that chain restaurant hawking empty-calories that will leave you feeling tired and unsatisfied throughout the day.
High caloric intake isn’t detrimental on its own but it’s best to mix those carbo-loads with healthy fiber and tons of exercise that will leave you feeling satiated and energized for the day.
Better yet move to a metropolitan area such as Seattle, Washington where the cuisine is rich with local vendors and mongers offering fish loaded with healthy proteins and omega-3s for a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle with your partner in wellness.