Growing Up On SAD (a.k.a. Standard American Diet)

I look back on all this and wonder how the hell I’m still alive at the age of 46. I must be a medical marvel. They’ll soon be studying me like they study Keith Richards.

In 1981, I became a “latchkey kid”, which was a term often used to describe children who were home alone most of the time while their parents were at work. At 9 years old I used to get myself up for school, get dressed, eat breakfast, make my school lunch, and walk to the bus stop without any adult supervision.

I was raised on a Standard American Diet (SAD). Neither of my parents enjoyed cooking which made healthy meals an anomaly in our house. So to solve the problem they decided to invest in “spiffy”-as my father would say -new technology and buy a microwave so they could stuff the freezer with Swanson TV dinners. This setup allowed both my parents to work longer hours because they knew that I could fend for myself if I got hungry.

Our kitchen cabinets were soon stuffed with spaghetti O’s, snack cakes, donuts, potato chips, pretzels, cookies, canned soups, peanut butter, breakfast cereals, marshmallow fluff, and candy. The fridge was filled with deli meat, hot dogs, cheese, skim milk, fat-free condiments and grape jelly. Our freezer was always bursting with frozen dinners, toaster strudels, and fat-free ice cream.

For breakfast I would pour some sugary cereal into a bowl, add skim milk, then top it off with more sugar. Sometimes I would heat up some toaster strudels and suck down the icing packets while the pastries were still cooking. For lunch I would make a peanut butter and fluff sandwich on Wonder Bread and grab a juice box and a snack cake. If I was hungry for dinner, I would heat up some spaghetti O’s or a couple of hot dogs in the microwave. And for dessert there was always ice cream or candy.

Some of the candy I used to eat regularly –

  • Nerds – Brightly colored sugar nuggets.
  • Bulls Eyes – Sticky caramel candies filled with white nugget.
  • Peeps – Fluffy marshmallow rolled in sugar.
  • Pop Rocks – Sugary explosions in your mouth.
  • Fun Dips – A white stick that you lick and dip into colorful sugars.
  • Pixie Sticks – Long tubes of paper filled with sugar.

And my all time favorite, Swedish red fish! Chock full of sugar, invert sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, citric acid, white mineral oil, artificial flavors, red 40, and carnauba wax. Yummy!

White potatoes were the star of the show and would make an appearance in our house on special occasions like on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Sometimes in the summer my mother would pick up some iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and some cucumber to make a salad drowned in some sort of fat free, high fructose corn syrup ladened dressing.

When we ate out it was either pepperoni pizza or fast food. And if my parents were sticking to a tight budget, we would eat tuna salad with fat free mayonnaise on a white sub roll and pair it with a bag of potato chips. On fancy occasions, we went out for breakfast where we would indulge in french toast or pancakes swimming in maple syrup.

Hilariously, my parents used to wonder why I got cavities and was tired and sluggish all of the time. And I used to struggle to stay focused on my school work.

Gee. I wonder why?

Could this stem from my EXTREMELY UNHEALTHY DIET?

I look back on all of this and wonder how the hell I’m still alive at the age of 46. I must be a medical marvel. They’ll soon be studying me like they study Keith Richards.

Thankfully, as an adult I got away from eating unhealthy, and I do enjoy cooking and eating a wide variety of vegetables. But up until very recently, I still ate a carbohydrate heavy diet. So a couple of weeks ago I decided learn about the Ketogenic Diet with my primary goal being to slow down the growth of Stewie, lower my blood sugar-although miraculously I don’t have diabetes-and lose some weight.

I have no idea if the Ketogenic diet will work, but based on the growing evidence I figured it’s worth a shot. Besides, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is most likely what got me sick to begin with!

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