By Ruth Ann Clayton, RD

Every five years your government does something for you. The USDA publishes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans with the next one due this year.  Prior to this the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee issues a pre-report.  Recently the committee made two noteworthy recommendations.  As you digest these recommendations, think about yourself and question if your pattern of eating is causing nutritional gaps in your diet.

First the committee is urging more Americans to modify their diets and get more exercise.  Secondly they are placing more pressure on the food industry to reformulate and make products healthier.   Why the emphasis?  Basically the Committee makes the same recommendations year after year.  Yet we aren’t changing and only small efforts have been made by the food industry to improve.  It sounds negative, but the statistics don’t lie.   Americans keep eating the same foods and aren’t exercising enough.  Such behavior causes nutrition gaps which lead to health problems.


Let’s take a quick look at the Standard American Diet, known by the acronym “SAD”.  The SAD is high in several types of not so nutritious foods.  The typical American food budget is consumed by solid fats and added sugars in products which the body is not equipped to handle.  Refined grains, the white stuff, have caused a decrease in our mineral intake.  Sodium or salt is excessively high especially in premade frozen and processed foods.  The SAD is comprised of saturated fat and foods low in fiber triggered by “eat in the car” fast food choices.  In contrast, less than 5% of the food budget is spent on whole fruit.


It is debatable why so many eat the SAD.  There is no debate as to the nutritional gaps this type of diet creates in your body. The SAD is the story of “too little” and “too many”.  Too little nutrition and too many poor nutritional choices have their consequences.  Nutrient deficiencies or imbalances can cause havoc within the physical body.  Overtime it’s like small leaks in your roof that aren’t noticed until the ceiling falls on your bed.  These imbalances can contribute to high blood pressure, dental disease, osteoporosis, GI diseases, obesity, heart disease and others.  These problems have been highly prevalent for decades while few improvements have been noted in consumer food choices.  In an astounding statistic, nearly half of Americans are thought to have one or more preventable chronic disease related to their diets.

Data now suggests some good news.   Americans are ever so slowly changing the SAD pattern.  Accept the challenge to eat nutritious foods at home, buy fewer processed items, make nutrient dense food choices and you will be on the right path.  To move this conversation forward, June’s article will discuss the actual nutrient deficiencies the SAD is triggering.

Ruth Ann Clayton is the Registered Dietitian at Nature’s Way.  She has been featured in and interviewed by nationally published trade journals.   Reach her at  This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

Ruth Ann Clayton, Registered Dietitian, is active in both the American Dietetics Association and Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Dietetic Practice Group. Her nationally accredited Dietetic Internship and her years of experience in public health and hospital settings reflect her commitment to your health and well being.

As the co-owner of Nature’s Way, she uses her comprehensive background to research products, read labels, investigate manufacturers and provide information for her customers.