The modern American diet (MAD) consists mostly of foods that manipulate our eating behaviors and contribute to many of the chronic diseases that are plaguing our population. We have to restore our priority of eating food that truly nourishes us. If we don’t do this, we will not be able to become well.
Much like someone addicted to cigarettes must quit smoking if they want to stop the progression of smoking-related diseases, those with chronic metabolic diseases must begin to reject the foods that are controlling their behaviors and making them sick. This must be done, but we must all do it together with the right understanding of the true nature of the problem. Those afflicted should not feel bad about themselves. Guilt and blame will not help us solve this problem. And by the way, if we do not solve this problem, it will become everyone’s problem. Just go look at the CDC’s statistics on this issue if you need proof of that.
Our “convenience” foods ultimately are not helping us feel good. And the truth is, they really do not even taste that good. We have to recognize this truth and make the decision to walk away from the foods that are making us sick. It is not convenient to be sick or to feel bad.
The Modern American Diet (MAD)
Our modern American diet, developed out of convenience, reducing costs, getting more food to more people, and primarily for the purpose of making money for the food industry, is calorie-rich and nutrient-poor. Essentially, we are overfed and undernourished.
So many of the maladies that I see, such as chronic fatigue, chronic inflammatory conditions, brain fog, anxiety, mood disturbances, and many others, are directly related to the food we eat. Our brains and our gut are intricately tied together. Many experts refer to our gut as our second brain. 90% of the serotonin in our body, which is our feel-good neurotransmitter, is actually produced and used in our gut, and only 10% in the brain.
The Truth about Convenience
The convenience of our diet is actually a great inconvenience. Poor nutrition directly impacts our productivity. The time we save not having to think about, prepare, eat, and digest real food is actually lost due to the fatigue and sickness that we deal with because of these foods.
So many times, when we begin to eat in a way that heals our gut, all of the other conditions remedy themselves. I’ve had cases of depression that resolved with an approach to eating that healed the gut. I’ve seen children diagnosed with ADD and treated with powerful stimulants who were able to resolve all of their symptoms by eating a diet that targets gut health.
Changing Our Nutrition Mindset
I often have conversations with patients about the issue of poor nutrition and the American diet, and many times the patient reflects back, “This is what I like to eat.” I totally understand what they’re saying. They’ve been eating these foods since they were young. They have strong emotional associations with these foods. There are ways in which these foods directly trigger their reward system, and actually, foods that are rich in carbohydrates and sugars do in fact increase a little serotonin in the brain while also increasing dopamine. They make you feel good for a very short window of time.
But if you back up and think about it, what they’re saying is counterintuitive. It’s admitting, “It doesn’t matter that what I’m eating is making me sick and feel terrible. It’s just what I like to do.” To sum up, what we’re really saying is, “I prefer to eat in a way that makes me sick. What I really hope is that you will be able to prescribe me a medicine that no longer makes me feel sick. Because I don’t want to eat in a way that promotes my best health.”
The typical reasons people give me that they cannot change their diet are either:
It takes too long to prepare nutritious food. I would suggest that if they had all their energy available to them, and they weren’t dealing with chronic diseases, they would find they have more time and that they’d enjoy food preparation.
Nutritious foods are too expensive. By the time you add up doctor’s visits, lost productivity, chronic sickness, and medications, I think you could make the case that everybody could afford to value nutrients over calories.
Healthy food tastes bad. You have to reorient your brain to feel well and be healthy.
I need to be clear that I do not judge or blame the individuals who think this way. This conditioned pattern of thinking starts early in life because engineered foods take advantage of the human reward system. However, there is only one way to be free of dysfunctional food preferences.
Ultimately, if you are determined to continue habits that are making you sick, such as eating a modern American diet, then you are determined to stay sick. No one can really help you. You have to want to be well first. It all starts with your own desire to feel good and experience your best health. Then you have to make choices that support this desire.
Please consider nutrition as one of the most important variables that will help you to be healthy. Please consider rejecting the modern American diet with its processed, food-like substances engineered to make you crave them. Consider stepping into the world of nutritious whole foods that provide your body and mind with health and life.