The standard American diet, SAD for short, is indeed sad. Nearly 37% of Americans eat fast food at least once a day! Americans get plenty of calories; just not the right kind. They are eating calorie-rich meals largely devoid of real nutrients. Fast food meals are loaded with calories, but you don’t have to eat fast food to be eating a “sad” diet devoid of real nutrients. Think about “spending” calories the way you would spend money. Imagine you had $2000 to spend and get essentials for the month such as gas, toilet paper, food, etc. Would you spend it all on a bracelet from Tiffany’s and skip the store and your other bills? No, because at the end of the day you still need those essentials. Your body is the same way. For example, we need around twenty-five grams of fiber daily but most of our favorite SAD foods such as burgers, mac and cheese, sandwiches, French fries are calorie rich but have almost no fiber plus our necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients that come from eating plants.
The irony of eating the SAD diet is that we eat lots of calories yet are still malnourished which can lead to food cravings, causing us to eat even more. Worse still, our brains are wired to have a greater endorphin release from eating foods higher in fat and carbohydrates as if we are somewhat wired to like and crave these types of foods. Think ice-cream, chocolate, chips, pasta, bread, fried foods and you find copious amounts of calories with minimal to no nutritive value.
Your body may get enough calories eating these kinds of foods, but your brain will often tell you to eat more than you really need because what it’s looking for is nutrition to feed that body, not just fill it up. This may result in overeating or unwanted food cravings that can derail your diet and make you feel lousy about yourself because it seems uncontrollable.
What’s the fix? Plants foods first! The plain and simple advice is to strive to eat real, whole foods, not out of a package every single day and include many servings of vegetables daily, not to include regular potatoes (sweet potatoes OK). Vegetables, fruit and legumes are all plants foods that are rich in the key nutrients your body needs to thrive! If you are a meat and dairy consumer, include lean version, preferably organic if possible, versions of these in your healthy diet as well to get a complete, balanced and health, not SAD diet.
Taking charge of your diet is the number one thing you can do besides exercise to get healthy and have a better physical with your doctor next year. Hiring a personal trainer to help keep you accountable to your goals and can educate you on what you’re really eating plus motivate you to stay on track!