The Standard American Diet (SAD) is characterized by fast and processed foods (including processed meats like bacon and deli meats), refined grains, excess salt/sugar/fat, red meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages. It offers a lot of calories but very few nutrients, with 40% of calories typically coming from fat or sugar. It’s not difficult to see why it leads to obesity and chronic illness. According to the CDC, six out of ten Americans live with at least one chronic disease, mainly attributable to lifestyle, with diet being a primary factor. Chronic diseases include cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, and obesity. About 40% of US adults are obese.
The key to reducing our risk of chronic disease is in making lifestyle changes that include regular exercise, stress reduction, and transitioning from a SAD to a whole, plant-based diet. We need to eat nutrient-rich foods that will provide the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that our bodies need to thrive and prevent disease. We also need fiber for a healthy gut microbiome and strong immune system, and only plant foods contain fiber.
A diet that promotes health does not have to be complex or expensive, and it’s not about restricting what you eat. Instead, it’s about being mindful of what you eat and choosing to eat foods that are nutrient-dense and have a positive impact on your health rather than being harmful. It’s about prioritizing your health with the foods you choose to buy or grow, cooking them yourself as often as you can, experimenting with herbs and spices for flavor as well as health benefits, and enjoying your meals.
Follow our upcoming articles for suggestions and information to help you build a health-promoting whole food, plant-based diet while you let go of the SAD harmful lifestyle.