The Standard American Diet: SAD Realities

The American Plate

When the truth is addressed, we really do not know much about nutrition science,  especially its physiological influences on our health. This dilemma results in the ongoing debates about just what is a healthy diet. In reality, nutrition is an infant science that has been ignored by some who feel  it is relatively an unimportant  factor on our health issues.

Doctors do not help the situation – most will admit that they never received much education about how the diet can affect heath parameters. My own doctor never mentioned the fact that even though I had lost 20 pounds intentionally since my last visit, he never asked me any particulars about the diet that got me there. One would think that he might have inquired if  the weight loss was not intentional, therefore indicating a health problem. He also never mentioned the resulting  lab value changes, primarily total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglyceride, blood glucose, blood pressure values that had improved with the dietary changes I had made on my own.

But most people are not aware of how diet can affect our heath (the emphasis has been only on weight loss).  When doctors don’t  mention it, patients do not receive the        proper information on diet interventions. For example, if their total cholesterol is too high, they are told to eat a low cholesterol, low fat diet (outdated advice) and/or placed on a statin drug.  Nutrition science has come a long way since those days from a couple of decades ago. The prudent way would be to give diet a chance. Diet advice is abundant on the internet. However, you should be careful about some of it – look for help from certified nutritionists (Registered dietitians or others with certification from a health coach program, for example.)

The following article written by Reinoud Schuijers explains quite well the problems with the Standard American Diet (SAD)  as the three “assassins” – refined vegetable oils, sugar and grains. He seems to follow a keto-type diet; however, research has not yet fully investigated the long-term effects of this highly restrictive plan.

Take charge of your own heath and encourage your doctor to help you take the path to healthy lifestyles. The internet is teeming with diet advice, but use it wisely. In my opinion (contrary to the following article) it may help to consult with a certified dietitian or certified health coach). But you don’t need to follow complicated meal plans – the best diet is one you form based on your lifestyle and food preferences. Say away from highly restrictive plans, fads and detoxification schemes as well as diet pills.

CLICK HERE.

Who Lives Longer? Why?

A flag concept of a dinner plate with the flag of France on it.

More lessons are to be learned from the French culture. They just keep giving and we (the U.S) just keep ignoring their clues reflected by their lower disease rates (some of the lowest on the globe).

For example, the cardiovascular disease rate: 86.89 deaths in U.S per 100,000 population; 43.25 in France. The obesity rates are much higher in the U.S. than in France. However the lower rates are climbing in France due to less adherence to their traditional diets and their higher intake of Westernized fast and processed foods.

The dietary lessons are relatively simple suggestions(in my opinion). The  French generally do not diet or snack. They enjoy food and eat sensibly when it comes to portions. There may be others that are more complex. Please check out the table and graph in the article.

CLICK HERE.

The Simple Way to Eat?

Was a new diet part of your 2020 resolutions?  Great, but forget the new fads, diet pills, and starvation deprivation. There are many of the old diets still around- keto, paleo, Whole 30, NutriSystem, Jenny Craig to mention a few.  Just look at the magazine covers at the supermarket checkout – keto seems to have taken over all the others. The keto diet is quite restrictive, difficult to maintain and the long-term effects are not known. There is little evidence that  this type of restriction, although shown to be effective for weight loss, may not be a lifestyle choice for most people. Is there a better way? In my opinion, yes. The best diet is one you can live with and with a few adjustments compatible with the foods you choose. The best diet is one that with a little guidance and knowledge, is decided by you.

The following article is worth looking at if you want a simple approach.  All you need is a plate, a bottle of water, real food and of course, your commitment. And even better, this plan lets you be in control in following a reasonable and evidence-based plan that can fit easily into your lifestyle.

The article speaks for itself and provides a few links to add to the basics, i.e. some things you need to know like a guide to non-starchy vegetables. Oh, you may have to give up fast food and processed foods for a while. But, you may be glad when you realize that you will feel a lot better (and healthier) and the effort will be well worth it.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to say that weight loss itself is easy – it ‘s hard work but worth it when your goals are either weight loss or just changing to a healthier lifestyle.    That is why this plan is appealing. it is straightforward and makes sense.

So join the new “non-diet” approach that will help you lose some pounds but even better, eating for health. That is what eating should be about, not body image, eating disorders and food restriction. Learning how to eat rather than  just what to eat  is the answer (my opinion). ENJOY!!

One more thing – Always consult a registered dietitian, certified nutritionist, and your primary physician to discuss any dietary change to make sure it is nutrient dense. Also make sure you have no underlying medical problems like high cholesterol, hypertension, pre-diabetes, diabetes or digestive issues, for example.

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Portion Distortion: Then and Now?

Portions are out of control in the Standard American Diet. Do you know how much food you ate yesterday? If you had meat what size of serving of meat? Whatever happened to the single burger?  Few people are aware of how much food they eat. Portion sizes of today’s food tends to exceed standard serving sizes due to our past experiences at family meals, the size of servings at restaurants, supersize meals, large bakery products and larger cups of soft drinks all contribute to the problem.

Typical portion sizes and calorie content of foods in the marketplace versus calorie content and portion sizes 25 years ago.

Food Portion size

Calories 25 years ago

Marketplace portion sizes

Calories now

Bagel 3- inch diameter, 140 calories 6 -inch diameter. 350 calories
Cheeseburger 4.3 ounces, 343 calories 7.1 ounces, 535 calories
French fries  2.4 ounces, 210 calories 6.9 ounces, 610 calories
Soft drink 6.5 ounces, 85 calories 20 ounces, 820 calories
Muffin 1.5 ounce, 167 calories 6.5 ounce, 724 calories

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The Mediterranean Diet? Olive Oil and Longevity

The Mediterranean Diet has gained fame and much has been written about it since its debut circa 1960. Actually, there is no one Mediterranean diet, the diets of southern France, Italy, Spain, and Greece share several characteristics that make this healthy diet what it is today.

What makes this diet so important for our health? Disease statistics and incidence rates show that countries eating the Mediterranean way for centuries have traditionally been on the good side. These countries have reported statistics that have significantly lower death rates from cardiovascular disease than does the United States. Each of these countries also shows only a fraction of the U.S. rates for breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. Furthermore, on average, the people of the Mediterranean live about a year longer than U.S. citizens.

What is this diet all about?

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Blue Zones in America?

Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones and The Blue Zones Solution has revealed that the world’s longest living people have lived lifestyles over the past 100 years that help them and others lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.

One of these lifestyles includes their diets.  Buettner’s teams have helped thousands of people lose weight and reverse disease by changing the way they live, eat, and connect with each other. Ultimately, these changes can transform your health and help you live longer.

The basis of this diet at a glance:

  • Rich in “healthy” fats including olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Vegetables abound; meat is minor.
  • Loads of beneficial herbs.
  • Moderate drinking.
  • Practice of a slower pace of life with a strong social connection.

FYI: There is a new book by Dan Buettner called The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 recipes to live to 100. The information is priceless and the photographs are stunning (provided by David McLain and National Geographic).

CLICK HERE.