• Carolyn Humiston


unhealthy american diet

What makes you S.A.D.?

By S.A.D. I mean the Standard American Diet.

The Problem

Although we live in one of the most prosperous countries on earth, Americans die earlier and experience higher rates of disease than other developed nations. Why? The food we are putting into our bodies is slowly killing us, bite by bite.

“Standard American Diet” (S.A.D.) is used to describe the stereotypical diet of Americans. In "Broken Brain Docuseries" episode 2, Dr. Mark Hyman says, "The S.A.D. diet--that's the Standard American Diet--has lead to a nation that is overfed and undernourished. Most of the country is eating too much food and not getting enough nutrients."

S.A.D. is heavy on red meat, dairy products, processed and artificially sweetened foods, and laden with salt. There is a distinct lack of healthier, more nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, and whole grains. Sugar is in almost everything in the Standard American Diet, as opposed to more healthy carbohydrates such as starch.

This is the average meal of the average American, and it is not a healthy one! It’s so common because it IS cheap, easy to get on the run, and often addictive. There is a fast food joint on every corner, enabling Americans to eat a regular diet of processed foods, bad fats, high sodium, and sugary drinks.

The Facts

- 2 out of every 3 Americans are overweight, a percentage that is expected to rise to 3 out of 4 by 2020.

- The United States has the most overweight population of any developed nation.

- 1 in 3 people is expected to have diabetes.

- Since 1980, food has become more available. Standard portion sizes are 2 to 3 times what they used to be.

- 63% of America’s calories come from refined and processed foods such as soft drinks, packaged snacks like potato chips, packaged desserts, etc.

  • 25% of America’s calories come from animal-based foods

  • 12% of America’s calories come from plant-based foods

Unfortunately, half of the plant-based calories (6%) come from french

fries. That means only 6% of America’s calories are coming from

health-promoting fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

When someone only consumes 6% of their calories, like the average person, in fruits and vegetables, they will most likely end up sick, overweight, and unhappy.

My Experience

I understand S.A.D. because I was a participant! As a single mom, I often took my family out for pizza on the night when the single parents met and the kids could have dinner together. We were regulars at McDonald’s on the way home from gymnastics at night because it was easy, the kids liked the chicken McNuggets, and it would be too late if we waited until we got home for dinner. Processed frozen food was another quick fix when time was short. When time was plentiful, we cooked real food and had healthy vegetables, but the S.A.D. diet was always there for me in a pinch, and I frequently took advantage of it.

All the while, I knew that the “Fast Food Fast Lane” wasn’t the best answer for nutrition, and that I was taking the easy way out at the sacrifice of my family's health. Practicing a healthier lifestyle, of course, proved to be a better approach, but that meant more time and effort to make healthy choices for my family. It meant going back to the ways of my own childhood, before fast food became so prevalent. I finally found it necessary to come face-to-face with the truth: the S.A.D. diet was harming my family, and I was complicit. Though it took more effort and time, I began to focus on eating real foods—fruits and vegetables—and invested in high-quality supplements (USANA’s are excellent), and a daily Nutrimeal protein shake to stay healthy and full. I was intentional to stay well away from the easy solution of fast food and processed meals.

The Solution

To turn this harmful diet habit around, we need to spread the word about a whole-food, plant-based diet, which is the only diet that has been scientifically shown to prevent and reverse chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and autoimmune disease. Make vegetables and fruits and healthy proteins your friend!


S - Suppose you live life in a hurry?

You pick up your kids from soccer practice or any after school sport and they are hungry! It’s usually 5 or 6 o’clock when this happens and it’s dinner time. A quick drive through any fast food restaurant makes life easier and is a time saver.

A - Another Option or Choice!

You pack some healthy snacks like fruits or nuts or a protein bar to make it through the drive home. This keeps the kids happy, the moods more stable, and saves time and money!

D - Decide!

Teach children that healthy eating is a better way. Help them form good habits at a young age, and it will set them up for better health for the rest of their lives.


S - Suppose Lunchtime can be stressful!

You only have 30 minutes for lunch at work! A quick trip to the cafeteria to grab anything quick helps, but the choices are fast food and healthy foods are minimal.

A - Another Option or Choice!

Take time on the weekend to do some food prep. This is setting up your meals for the week in advance so they are ready-to-go during the week. Then bring your healthy lunch to work, saving you time and stress!

D - Decide!

Preparing and planning ahead when time is available can make our lives more organized and less stressful when time is most important.

Finding the answers to healthy eating is different for each person and their unique needs, and I am available to help you find the right answers for you. In the meantime, I’d like to suggest several films that would be helpful in answering some of your questions. See "Recommended Resources" at the end of this blog for more information.

As a healthy living expert, let me tell you how I take care of myself: I eat well, I sleep well, I exercise, I take supplements, I stay happy. This may seem impossible, but I’d love to help you to find the perfect routine to keep you healthy and happy too!

Make Healthy a Habit!


Recommended Resources

"Forks Over Knives" starts a conversation that’s changing the way we eat.

"Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" is a film about the surprising mistakes most people make when it comes to nourishing the body.

"Fed Up" Narrated by Katie Couric, "Fed Up" blows the lid off everything we thought we knew about food and exercise, exposing the hidden truths contributing to one of the largest health epidemics in history.

"That Sugar Film" is a film that will change the way you think about “healthy” food. It is available for viewing for free with a Hulu subscription or it available for rent/purchase on YouTube and Google Play

18 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All