Dangers of Standard American Diet (SAD)
What is Standard American Diet (SAD)
Standard American Diet (SAD), also known as stereotypical American diet is the term which describes the way of eating and nutritional habits of people in developed countries. The majority of them are living in United Sates of America, so to simplify it; the diet is called Standard American Diet.
To be very general and give short, but more detailed description, standard American diet is high in unhealthy and low in healthy ingredients. It gives a great deal of calories, but is lacking in ingredients with nutritional value. This is why many Americans are suffering from obesity, diabetes, coronary diseases and cancer.
Let’s look at standard diet more closely; to see what makes it so unhealthy. If you take a look at the daily menu most people consume, you will see howunvaried American diet really is.
Breakfast starts with coffee and a food full of sugar such as pancakes, doughnut, muffin or puff pastry. They are followed by orange juice.
Lunch is not cooked, which means the most common food is a kind of a sandwich. Sometimes it’s a turkey sandwich or a burger with large size French fries. Lunch ends with large soft drink.
Afternoon snack is some kind of energy candy, to boost the energy, which crashed down shortly after lunch. Some kind of juice or a soft drink is also a usual choice for afternoon snack.
Dinner is the only meal when people eat cooked food. Usually it is red meat with potatoes dipped in margarine or cream. Vegetables are canned, if they are served at all. At the end of dinner dessert is served, usually an ice cream, pudding or cake.
At the first glance, this daily menu might seem like perfectly normal. But, if you look a little deeper, you will see that this diet is high in all stuff that is completely unnecessary and unhealthy. And, at the other hand is low in most important nutrients, vitamins and healthy ingredients.
Disadvantages of Standard American Diet
Standard American diet is high in processed food, which contains too many animal fats as well as saturated and hydrogenated oils. Most of the foods containing those unhealthy ingredients are process carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, muffins, chips and so on.
It is also high is unhealthy sugars, such as corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup, which is damaging for human’s health if consumed daily and in large dosages.
Preservatives like sodium nitrate, phytic acid, monosodium glutamate and acrylamide are part of most of the foods American people are consuming every day.
This kind of diet is consequently very high in calories, leading to coronary diseases and the number one problem in America - obesity.
Healthy nutrients are missing, because standard American diet is low in fiber, complex carbohydrates and plant based foods.
Influence on human’s health
Hydrogenated oils are partly responsible to increased number of people suffering from cancer, heart disease and obesity. Saturated fats can clog the arteries and also lead to heart disease and heart attack.
Foods that contain omega-6 fatty acids in much greater ration that omega-3 can cause cancer, because omega-6 promotes inflammation.
Plant margarines and food based on plant margarine is full with trans fatty acids, which promote female infertility.
Consumption of processed foods, especially processed meats can cause all kinds of cancer (breast, prostate and colon).
Food high is salt can cause high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack, strokes and other complications.
High fructose corn syrup has a negative effect on blood system, raising the blood sugar levels quickly. The consumption of high fructose corn syrup can cause type II diabetes and heart disease.
Diet which is poor with vegetables, fruits and fiber can be a risk of cancer development, as well as other harmful diseases.
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How is Standard American Diet affecting families and children
As in any family, children are following and adopting their parents’ eating habits and habits in general. Unfortunately, parents are passing their ignorance to children and every new generation is facing more problems and eating disorders.
These are the top reasons why so many people are stuck with unhealthy eating habits:
- Healthy and organically grown foods are more expensive. If people want to improve their health, they will have to pay more. And, many people find this as the first obstacle when it comes to changing their eating habits and making them healthier.
- Lifestyle is also one of the main factors why families don’t consume more cooked and homemade food. People live fast; they don’t have time to eat proper lunch. Fast food is sometimes the easiest choice they can make. Dinner is the only time when family sits together at the table. And, the food they eat is most of the time frozen and heated in microwave oven.
- People are not physically active; children watch too much television or play computer games. They eat much more unhealthy food when they watch TV during the meal, then when they sit at the table. This leads to child obesity and is a precondition for many serious diseases in grown age.
How to improve eating habits
The number one goal of American society is educating children how to eat healthy. This is a good start in prevention of childhood obesity.
Children need to know that certain food is unhealthy and how it can endanger their health. But, parents need to be the first to change their eating habits, in order to let their children naturally adopt those habits from them.
Physical activity is also very important. Families need to introduce mutual physical activities, spend more time in the nature and decrease the time children spend in front of the TV or computer.
Standard American diet can be changed to be healthier. First step in making improvements is changing specific parts of the diet on the following way:
- Cut out fast food
- Decrease fried food
- Decrease consumption of red meat
- Decrease consumption of soft drinks
- Reduce intake of sugar and salt
- Increase consumption of fish
- Increase consumption of wholegrain cereals
- Add vegetables to almost every meal
- Drink more water.
Standard American Diet alternatives
If you want to go one step further, an option can be the diet which is healthy alternative to standard American diet.
Two alternatives of standard American diet are Mediterranean and macrobiotic diet.
- The main features of Mediterranean diet are high consumption of olive oil, vegetables and fruits, as well as legumes and wholegrain cereals. This is not vegetarian diet, so meat is allowed to eat. But, the difference is that red meat is eaten very rare and fish and poultry are eaten moderately. Diary products and eggs are also recommended, but only if eaten few times a week. Dessert is usually some fresh fruits. Glass of red vine is allowed only if taken during lunch or dinner. Mediterranean diet is beneficial for heart and blood system, preventing the high blood pressure and heart disease. Thanks to the antioxidants in olive oil, Mediterranean diet can improve LDL cholesterol.
- Macrobiotic diet on the other hand is vegetarian diet, but with consumption of wide range of fermented soy products. Macrobiotics is not just a diet. It’s a philosophy which pays attention to the principles of balance known as yin and yang. Macrobiotic diet involves consumption of locally grown vegetables, legumes, wholegrain cereals, nuts, seeds and (fermented) soy products. Meat, diary products and eggs are not part of macrobiotic diet. There are many benefits of a macrobiotic diet and generally it has positive effects on health and well being. It also acts as a prevention of all kinds of cancer. Light natural seasons are allowed, while other stimulants, such as alcohol are forbidden.