What’s Wrong With The Standard American Diet?

In our current culture of busy, busy, busy, work, work, work, we have come to believe that health is merely the absence of disease. I argue that it is much more. We shouldn’t have to go through our day feeling stressed, exhausted, or overwhelmed. We shouldn’t have to suffer through PMS or struggle through brain fog. We should wake up feeling well-rested, alert and excited for our day like we did when we were kids. We shouldn’t have to take a pill to feel happy or control our cholesterol and then take another pill to mitigate the side effects of the first. We, as a culture, have lost sight of what real food is and that a large part of the answer to most of our health issues lies in eating real, traditionally prepared foods that have been grown with care.   

Not only have we lost sight of what real food is, we have also stopped making food a priority.

If people aren’t making food a priority, why is everyone overweight, you might ask? I believe it is because we eat on the run. We eat in front of the television. We snack throughout the day. We too rarely sit down to enjoy a communal meal with family and friends. We buy packaged foods with unknown ingredients just to save time on meal preparation. Never before have Americans spent so little time preparing food. We now spend a mere 30 minutes a day on meal preparation, which is less time than residents in any of the other OECD countries (Source). The average American spends much more time if front of their computers as well as watching tv! Source. Isn’t your vitality worth more than 30 minutes a day?

We have come to believe that food should not only be quick, but also that food should be cheap. We have grown to expect that we can skimp on our food budget and then splurge on that new phone. Never before in history have Americans spent so little of their budget on food. In 1900, the average American family spent half of their income on food (Source). Half!!  In 2014, we spent less than 7%. The US spends less than any other country on food even though food here costs about 50% more than most countries! (Source). Eating processed foods might save you time and money right now, but in the end it will cost you more money. You will be lining your doctor’s pockets and wasting your precious time in his or her waiting room.

The amount of time, money and energy spent on our meals has fallen dramatically, yet food allergies are rising astronomically and obesity is a pandemic. Every day a new fad diet pops up on the internet promising weight loss or better energy. One month you go low-fat, the next month you go low-carb, and maybe they work for a few months, but ultimately you end up right back where you were with that dangerous fat still around your middle. If we focus on getting the nutrient dense food that our bodies, and our microbiome, need we don’t have to worry as much about what we “shouldn’t” be eating. When your body gets the vitamins and minerals that it needs to work properly, it actually starts to work properly!

Food is only one  (albeit large) Piece of the puzzle

Although food has such a powerful effect on our bodies, it is not the only missing piece in the puzzle. We need to learn techniques for managing our stress in this fast-paced, plugged-in, modern culture. We have to reduce our toxic exposure. We need to get outside, breathe fresh air, and go barefoot. We need to get our bodies moving. We need to pay attention to our thoughts and balance our energies.