Why is the American Diet so full of Unhealthy Foods?

Why is the American Diet so full of Unhealthy Foods?
Why is the American Diet so full of Unhealthy Foods?

My husband and I have traveled all over the United States, Mexico and Canada and I am here to tell you that the American diet is troubling. Our supermarkets have more variety and selection of food products than anywhere else I have visited. Just walk down the cereal aisle in your local supermarket and you will see what I mean. Yet, we still gorge ourselves on unhealthy foods. Why?

I tell my kids all the time: Don't put more on your plate than you plan on eating because it is such a sin to waste food. (OK, I am first generation in the United States, and I grew up poor; we never wasted food.) My kids are wonderful, caring and compassionate individuals, but it is difficult for them to embrace a concept that is so foreign (no pun intended) to them. They have never had to wonder where their next meal was going to come from, let alone having fresh running water and a clean warm bed to sleep in.

Read more for tips to decrease your food waste

But sadly, the facts don't lie about our American Diet habits and our penchant for unhealthy foods:

  • When you have a two-paycheck family that can barely make ends meet, one of the first things to go is healthier food choices like produce, fresh cuts of meat, poultry and fish, dairy and whole grains.
  • When the average employee works nine hours a day and commutes approximately two hours round-trip per day, the last thing he or she wants to do is cook dinner.
  • In some regions there is a lack of availability or it is too expensive to eat healthy.
  • We are always on the move and so our food has to be as well. I don't see any economic problems at the local fast-food restaurant. As a matter of fact, it is cheaper to feed a family off the $1.00 menu than it is to purchase, prepare and serve the healthier equivalent at home.

Read more about the dangerous fast food diet trend

  • It is difficult to please everyone, especially when it comes to vegetables. Frankly, after a while you get real tired of hearing the complaining.
  • Who wants to clean the kitchen after working all day, preparing, cooking and serving dinner?
  • Addiction to processed and fried foods.
  • With too many afterschool extracurricular activities, we just can't seem to get the entire family together for dinner.

Read tips for making family meals healthy and fun

  • Fatigue, stress, exhaustion-and not enough hours in the day.
  • It is so much easier to open up a can, place a prepackaged meal in the microwave or bring in fast food.

So although Americans don't eat as well as they should, the facts are we do eat better than most and have leftovers to prove it. But there's always room for improvement.

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Linda Mundorff, MPH, MSN, ND, RN, CNC, CTN has worked in health care for over 25 years as a registered nurse, health educator, associate professor, and a naturopathic doctor. She holds several degrees in health education, public health, nursing, and naturopathy. She is a certified nutritional consultant and a board certified traditional naturopath. Dr. Mundorff is the author of several books, including Memories Of My Sister: Dealing with Sudden Death, Medical Terminology: A Student Workbook. Her latest, Take Control: A Guide to Holistic Living, is an innovative health guide, which helps the reader learn how to regain control of their health by discovering the practical effectiveness of combining alternative and modern medicine.