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How the Standard American Diet Sneaks into Your Meals and Harms Your Health

Written by Ali Donahue
How the Standard American Diet Sneaks into Your Meals and Harms Your Health

Quick synopsis

Far more often, we eat an unhealthy diet because we don’t know that what we’re eating is not all that great for us. We make food choices that hurt us, even when we are trying to do our best.

When you learn what the Standard American Diet (or SAD, appropriately) really is, you have the power to eat a reliably healthy diet. Our blog and quiz give you the tools to make that change.

The Full Story

Not many folks go through their days actively wanting to eat an unhealthy diet. Seriously, nobody wakes up and thinks, Yeah, today I’ll tank my brain function and raise my cholesterol with the Standard American Diet!

No. But that SAD diet is woven so deeply into our shopping and eating, we often don’t recognize it. After all, a lot of refined and processed food is packaged and sold as healthy.


So when we get sick with common American diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, it seems like a surprise. How could this happen if we were eating as well as we thought? After a while, getting sick and feeling unwell come to feel… inevitable. Just part of regular, unhappy, painful life.

But disease and discomfort do not have to be the foregone conclusion of our lives. We step closer to health and wellbeing as we fully understand the Standard American Diet and make different choices.

The good news is that it takes just a bit of learning to see the American diet for what it truly is. And once you have that knowledge, you can leave behind the SAD old story for good. 

What is the Standard American Diet?
Take the SAD (Standard American Diet) Quiz

Most folks in the United States are eating refined and processed foods. This looks like:

  • Packaged meals
  • Breakfast cereals
  • White bread
  • White flour pasta
  • Potato chips
  • Pastries
  • French fries
  • Packaged snacks
  • Sodas and processed drinks

What do SAD diet foods have in common? Most of them are grain-based. All those white breads and pastas and pastries and rice and crackers have usually been stripped of nutrients. They have no fiber, so they rip through your system, spiking your blood sugar.

By and large they’re also extremely, ridiculously high in added sugars and oils. (Here’s why most oil is not your friend.)

This SAD state of affairs is often true in “healthy” packaged food, too. The vast majority of them are white grain-based, high on added sugar, high on added oil, and high on nutrient-free calories. (When you can read the nutrition label, you can see right through the marketing!)

Red meat and dairy fill up the rest of the American diet. Only 12 percent of our calories come from plant-based foods, and half of that is… French fries. (Cue the very sad and nutritionally deficient trombones.)


OVERFED AND UNDERNOURISHED: What happens to your body on the Standard American Diet?

The SAD diet makes us feel full at first, but the consequences hit right away. Here are just a few of them:

  • We overeat because we get hungry faster, leading us to eat again, and more, sooner. 
  • The constant sugar disrupts our blood sugar regulation, leading to energy spikes and crashes. The high levels of fats affect insulin production, making us susceptible to diabetes. 
  • We’re more likely to experience anxiety and depression.
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels rise, putting us at risk of a range of heart disease.
  • The risk of certain cancers goes up, including colon cancer.

These outcomes can happen even when you are eating what you think is “healthy” food. If it’s refined and processed, or heavy on the red meat and dairy, it is still S.A.D


Start changing your standard American diet

Ready to switch from SAD eating to happy eating? It’s all about letting go of the B.S. (you know, the bad stuff) and welcoming in plant-based foods. 

Here are four ways to start:

BONUS: Let us help you! We’ll deliver the heat-and-eat plant-based meals, and you can go out and live your happy plant-based life.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Standard American Diet is really sad — and it’s everywhere, even in the “healthy” packaged foods we eat.
  2. Learn what really makes up the Standard American Diet (and why it’s not good for us).
  3. Take the quiz to see if you’re eating SAD.
  4. Replace the B.S. (bad stuff) with whole plant-based foods. (We can help!)

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