Why Are So Many American’s Overweight and Unhealthy?
Processed Food – They’re What America Eats
Let’s face it, processed food tastes great and is more convenient than preparing real food from scratch. Because it’s so tasty and so easy, most people eat a lot of it. In fact, if you look at the statistics, Americans eat far more processed food than say, fresh meat and vegetables.1 People aren’t very worried about this, and they certainly don’t want to make too many changes. But should people be more concerned?
What is the Standard American Diet?
We think we’re doing really well! But according to statistics, we’re not. Unhealthy eating habits and ideas are sabotaging lots of us:
- 43% of Americans polled reported that they drank at least one sugar-sweetened drink each day
- 40% said that they eat ‘pretty much everything’ that they want
- 33% of overweight and obese individuals reported that they were at a healthy weight
- 90% Americans believe that they eat a healthy diet 2
Most people do not understand that whole plant foods are best for our health. They believe what the advertisers tell them -- that processed foods labeled “low-fat” or “low-carb,” artificially sweetened beverages, pasta, and olive oil make a healthful diet. Americans have not yet grasped the concept of nutrient density.3
If you look at everything Americans eat based each year based on statistics collected by the government and other agencies, the resulting pattern of food consumption is called, “the Standard American Diet”. Although we are told by the most knowledgeable nutritionists and doctors to eat at least five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables, we miss the mark.4
According to a report from the Center for Disease Control report in 2009, just 32.5% of adults ate fruit two or more times per day, and about 26% ate vegetables three or more times per day. From 2000 to 2009, fruit consumption actually fell a few percentage points.5 According to the Harvard School of Public Health, eating lots of fruits and vegetables has significant benefits for preventing cardiovascular disease, improving vision, improving, gastrointestinal health, and the prevention of cancer.6
The USDA Economic Research Service, Center for Nutrition Policy created the following chart showing the consumption patterns in American households.7
What IS Processed Food?
Since most of us don’t believe we eat that much processed food, consider these typical American menus. If you think you don’t eat processed food, think again.
Breakfast Favorite Processed Foods:
- a bowl of cereal
- a frozen waffle
- a quick donut
- a bagel with cream cheese
- a piece of toast and jam
- a nutrition bar
- pancakes from your favorite mix
Lunch (Mostly Processed):
- a sub with deli meats and a slice of American cheese
- a hot dog with catsup and relish
- a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich
- chips or fries
- a fountain drink
- a pizza with cheese, salami, or pepperoni.
What about Snacks?
- most things we call “snacks”
- cereal bars
- anything from a vending machine -- crackers, cookies, candy
- sodas or a sweetened fruit drink
What’s for Dinner?
- Frozen prepared food
- Packaged mixes
- Fish sticks, etc
Dinner has the best chance of having some real food. If you prepare meat, fish, or poultry fresh from the store; if you buy fresh vegetables and steam them; and if you serve real cheese with some fruit for an appetizer or dessert, you’re eating real food.
How Does Food Get Processed?
Food processing is the alteration of raw ingredients, by physical or chemical means into food. It combines ingredients to produce edible food products that can be easily prepared and served. Food processing typically involves macerating, liquefying, emulsifying, boiling, broiling, frying, preservation, canning or freezing.8
Most processed food starts out as real food: but after their high temperature or chemical treatment; and /or their spinning and smashing, they are fundamentally altered from their original form. Their original nutrients that makes them healthy are gone. Yes, synthetic vitamins or fiber may have been added, but it can never be as healthy as the original.
How do We Know It’s Unhealthy?
We know we need high-level nourishment to stay on top of our game, prevent disease, have lots of energy, and be able to focus and concentration. Processed food provides little nourishment, so it is said to have low nutrient density. A blueberry or a carrot or head of kale is healthy because it has a “suite” of nutrients that go together to provide the perfect mix for our bodies. When these foods are processed, their nutrients are gone forever. You won’t die from eating denatured processed food -- like you would from say, eating arsenic. But over the long-term the effect is similar – it’s almost like taking tiny doses of poison for a long time. It’s not enough to kill you, but it is enough to make you feel tired all the time.
SHOW BOXES OF CRACKERS OR CEREAL OR NEARLY ANYTHING WITH HEALTHY LABELS. print near the pics, “Don’t be tricked”
Real Evidence of Harm
Let’s examine what happens when healthy people start to eat processed food. Thanks to a dentist named Weston Price,9 we can look at a few isolated groups of people around the world in the 1920’s who had still not been “westernized”.
Nearly 100 years ago, Weston Price suspected that the new industrial foods were at the root of the problem.10 The native people he studied –tribes or indigenous people – were pretty much untouched by civilization. They ate a natural diet of real food and had no processed foods. Much of their diet was rich in enzymes, either from fermented or raw food. Plus, they prepared their foods traditionally based on centuries of knowledge passed from one generation to the next.11
For them it wasn’t an option to grab a burger and fries. These healthy native people didn’t eat refined sugar or white flour either because they weren’t available. They didn’t cook with vegetable oils, and they didn’t eat canned or processed food. They also didn’t have heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.
They were much healthier than most of us and many lived long lives with little or no medical care. That is, until well-meaning Westerner’s arrived to “improve their lives” and bring modern conveniences to lift them up out of their misery. As they were exposed to the comforts of our world, especially our food, they started to get fatter and sicker very quickly. It happened in only a few years, which is lightning fast for this kind of thing. Their genes definitely didn’t change that fast, but their food did.
To see this real evidence with your own eyes, his journals and pictures of people of those native tribes are available for your inspection. There are pictures from before and after their Western diet.12 It would be well worth your while to look for yourself and see the evidence of harm.
The Take Home Message
Be a little bit more interested in taking charge of yourself. It’s not hard to make a few changes, now that you know what to look for. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables to prevent disease tomorrow and to feel better today. And, stick to real food!
2 Americans Falsely Believe Their Diet is Healthy. 2011. Discovery News.http://news.discovery.com/human/americans-diet-weight-110104.html.Accessed May, 2014
4 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion,U.S. Department of Agriculture.
10 Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, 1939
11 The Pioneering Research of Dr. Weston A. Price: The Whole, Natural Food Diet, by Sally Fallon, Chronogram, 07 2004
12 Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price. 1939