Is the American Diet Killing You?

Note: this post has been updated in September 2019.

The American Diet Promotes Convenience and Unhealthy Eating

In America, we are blessed to have access to good, quality food. Every city and small town has grocery stores that carry food, and they generally handle that food with careful safety practices. This is not true in many places in the world. We can find a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and healthy proteins in any grocery store in any town in America. This is the good side of the American diet.

Now for the bad side. With all the availability of good food and the money to buy it, in general, Americans are not eating what is best for them. Read The Typical American Diet Is Our Biggest Enemy. That is what we see from the studies that are being done about what Americans are eating and what our health looks like as a result. Obesity is rampant, along with diabetes, heart disease and other health issues related to poor diet. So, is the American diet killing you? Read my article on  What Is Good Nutrition.

What is the problem with the standard American diet?

​​Wrong Foods

63% of Americans’ calories come from refined and processed foods (e.g., soft drinks, packaged snacks like potato chips, packaged desserts, etc.)

25% of Americans’ calories come from animal-based foods

12% of Americans’ calories come from plant-based foods

Unfortunately, half the plant-based calories (6%) come from French fries. That means only 6% of Americans’ calories are coming from health-promoting fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

There’s a good reason we abbreviate standard American diet to S.A.D. The standard American diet leads to standard American diseases that lead to standard American deaths. – via ​The Standard American Diet is Even Sadder Than We Thought

​Other issues with the American diet.

Portion Distortion

The Western diet is nothing new. The typical American family in the 1950s was more likely than we are to sit down to a meal of pork chops and mashed potatoes than stir-fried tofu and broccoli. So, why has the obesity epidemic exploded in the last 20 years?

It’s a Matter of Size

“Twenty years ago, the diet wasn’t as varied as it is today, and people didn’t eat nearly enough fruits and vegetables,” Gollman says. “But the portions were more in line with what people really need.” From bagel shops to family restaurants to vending machines to movie theater concession stands to the dining room table, our meals and snacks are taking on gargantuan proportions. “Everyone in the food industry decided they had to make portions larger to stay competitive, and people got used to large sizes very quickly,” Nestle says. “Today, normal sizes seem skimpy.”

The hyperinflation of our diet is especially obvious away from home. “Look through the window of any of the big chain restaurants, and you’ll see huge platters of food coming out of the kitchen,” Polk says. One of those platters could easily pack 2,000 calories, which is enough to last most people all day.

Convenience Culture

Despite our national obsession with weight loss, the obesity epidemic continues to be a national health concern. The human craving for fats and sweets will never go away, and it’s getting easier than ever to satisfy those cravings.

With 170,000 fast-food restaurants and 3 million soft-drink vending machines spread across the country, huge doses of calories are never far away, especially when those soda machines are sitting right in the middle of public schools.

In 1978, for example, the typical teenage boy in the United States drank about seven ounces of soda a day, according to Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser. Today, he drinks nearly three times that much, getting a whopping 9 percent of his daily calories from soda. Teenage girls are close behind. Perhaps not surprisingly, studies show childhood obesity has hit epidemic proportions over the last few decades. The main culprits, according to experts, are high-fat foods, sodas, and too little exercise.– via ​consumer.healthday.com

Time to Take Action

The science confirms that a diet rich in whole, plant-based foods can help you live to the fullest. In fact, a growing number of physicians advocate a completely plant-based diet for many of their patients who suffer from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Two great sources Plant-Based Nutrition, 2E (Idiot’s Guides) and Nutrition Facts: The Truth About Food

The Forks Over Knives Plan shows you how to put this life-saving, delicious diet into practice in your own life. This easy-to-follow, meal-by-meal makeover is the approach Doctors Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman (featured in the documentary) use every day in their nutritional health practice—a simple plan that focuses on hearty comfort foods and does not involve portion control or worrying about obtaining single nutrients like protein and calcium.

Start Your Journey to Health

Join the Physicians Committee’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart to receive meal plans, recipes, and advice from nutrition experts. This service is free and will help you take control of your health with a vegan diet

The 21-Day Vegan Kickstart is supported by decades of research showing that a plant-based diet can help you reach a healthy weight and lower your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Our low-fat plant-based recipes, developed by chefs, dietitians, and experts in vegan cuisine, provide nutritious meals that are both healthy and delicious. Within 21 days you will start to see results and won’t look back! via – 21-Day Vegan Kickstart

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  • Ann says:

    Great tips here. And we did take steps to eliminate a lot of the sugars and drinking sodas in the house. And it’s been hard for the kiddos, but overall we’ve done good. And we go out about once a month to eat, but at a real restaurant….where we can get a salad and then our meal. And surprisingly, our kids LOVE salads! 🙂 It is about moderation, which a lot of people can not, or do not, want to control. But you must make the steps yourself and decide what you want to put into YOUR body.

  • Clint says:

    Great Article Robert!

    It would seem to me that eliminating those two things alone (refined sugar and processed foods) could go a long way towards improving one’s heath!

    My family gave up soda for Lent about 15 years ago and we never went back. It almost immediately improved our health and it was one of the decisions that we made.

    I’ve bookmarked your blog and will watch for your new articles, Great Job!

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