Did you eat like this today? The top 10 food items making Americans SAD


Recently the USDA released some welcome changes in the food pyramid. The details of the new guidelines are found in an 112 page document released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Here at Raising Wellness, we’re plumbing the depths of the new food guidelines to pick out the most interesting data on how we’re eating, and what it says about us.

Today’s lesson: we’re cheap carbohydrate junkies

We eat energy dense foods with very little nutritional content. That’s the Standard American Diet (SAD) and that’s why we’re getting more obese as years go by, and our energy levels are at an all-time low.

Recommended Reading: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

In the latest Dietary Guidelines, the USDA pulled data from the National Cancer Institute to show the top 25 foods where we get most of our calories. For the sake of brevity let’s just focus on the top 10 and what it says about us.

The top 10 sources of daily food calories

  1. We like donuts. Grain based desserts are the #1 food source for our daily calories. Breakfast is always a convenient place to bite down on our first serving of these calories, because they taste good, are mobile, and they come in so many delicious forms. Like coffee cakes, muffins, and and pastry breads.
  2. We like to eat breads before and after we eat our donuts. Breads with yeast are the second source of calories in an average American’s day.
  3. We like to have some of our bread around chicken. Chicken based dishes are the third source of our daily calories. Finally a protein, mixed with other foods, makes it to the list.
  4. We’ll stop chewing our breaded chicken salad sandwich to wash down our food with soda, or some kind of sports drink. Liquids with high sugar content are the fourth source of calories for SAD Americans.
  5. When we go home, pizza is for dinner. Yes, that’s right, pizza on its own has earned fifth place for the daily caloric intake of Americans. We’re eating pizza a couple times of week at least. Or we’re really enjoying it on Friday night.
  6. We like beer with our pizza. And why not, because they go great together. Alcoholic beverages rank number six in our source of daily calories.
  7. If we aren’t having pizza, we’re having Italian. After pizza and beer, pasta dishes rank number seven.
  8. When we’re not eating pizza or Italian, we’re eating “Mexican”. Tacos, tortillas, and burritos rank just below pasta.
  9. Beef isn’t what it used to be. Ranked at the ninth source of calories, we finally have the appearance of another protein food source on its own. For the sake of eating healthy, we probably moved away from beef awhile ago, and replaced it with pasta, pizza, and donuts.
  10. We’re going for dessert in the freezer aisle. Desserts are like book-ends on our top 10 list. The tenth spot on our top daily sources of calories come from dairy based desserts, which contain cream, milk, or cheese. Dairy desserts outrank reduced-fat milk, regular cheese, and whole milk.

While many of us would deny that our average food consumption is similar to this list (surely we eat more vegetable than this, right?), we would probably learn differently if we kept an honest food diary. Our daily food consumption largely centers on convenience items which are loaded with refined grains and cheap carbohydrates.


Recommended Reading: In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto


After all with a pizza night, a pasta night, a burrito night, and a chicken casserole night on rotation every week, you have very little opportunity to fill your daily calorie intake with something green or leafy.

The problem isn’t that we’re eating these things sometimes. It’s that we’re eating these things all the time.

You can read the USDA document here.

Written by Dr. Ward

Father. Foodie. And dedicated upper cervical chiropractor. Find me practicing gentle upper cervical care in Oakland County, Michigan. Have a question or comment? I'm at your service. Reach me at my Auburn Hills chiropractic practice: (248) 598-4002. Or on Google +, Facebook, or Twitter.

2 Responses to Did you eat like this today? The top 10 food items making Americans SAD
  1. […] It’s clear from the publication of the new Dietary Guidelines from the USDA, that we Americans don’t have the most healthy relationship with our food. […]

    • Jenna Thompson
      March 30, 2012 | 12:08 am

      Thanks for the reminder….the unfortunate reminder….off to pack lunch for tomorrow (spinach leaves, carrots, cucumber and tuna)