There Is Something Wrong With The American Food & Diet
The point of view of a French guy, living and eating in America
I moved to the United States less than a year ago, from France.
If you were to ask me what was the biggest culture shock, I would probably tell you it’s the food.
People usually laugh when I say that, and they either tell me that nothing can compare to French food, or they automatically assume that I’m an elitist, fancy, and annoying person.
The truth is, when I moved to the United States, I did realize one thing: my energy level was so low.
I was fatigued continuously. I had so much trouble waking up, getting things done, falling asleep, staying asleep. I was basically in what I like to call a non-sense cycle: I was so tired, but I couldn’t sleep more at night, and I just seemed unable to rest.
Sometimes, I would take naps.
I never take naps.
While I was blaming the jet lag for the way I was feeling, it’s only after several weeks that I realized that something was wrong.
It couldn’t be the jet lag anymore. It couldn’t be my lifestyle, either. My habits didn’t change. Was it general exhaustion from the fact of moving? I just didn’t think so.
The truth is that I quickly realized that the only thing that dramatically changed in my life was my diet.
I wasn’t being the most careful person about what I was eating. American food is very appealing, the portions are enormous, and the prices can be so low, it was so hard to resist.
But I wasn’t eating out all the time. I was also trying to cook at home. It just never tasted the same way. I always wanted more, and I was never satisfied with the way things tasted. I was kind of overeating all the time for no apparent reason.
So naturally, I gained a little weight. I wasn’t that bothered by it, and it was still under control.
But it started to become a problem when I realized that the weight I put in was only after a few weeks of being here. I saw that the new diet I was following (I guess a standard American diet) was not a sustainable path for me at all.
After doing some research, I heard about lots of alternative diets like the vegan diet, the paleo diet, the keto diet.
Of course, since I just gained a little weight, the keto diet seemed to be the right choice for me: losing weight super fast while eating lots of bacon and avocados? Sign me up!
And it worked out for me for a while. I lost all the extra weight I got. I was feeling energized again. I just felt like I was gaining my control back.
But after a few weeks, I started to realize how hard it was to keep such a diet, and the more I was reading about it, the more I came to realize that the benefits were mostly made up by marketing to sell you expensive supplements and MCT oils.
So I gave up on it for a while. I was back to a more balanced American diet.
I kept eating healthy fats. I reduced the sugar. I avoided vegetable oils. I was following some of my keto habits.
For a while, I thought I felt great, and I thought that I found the right diet for me.
But more recently, after gaining a little weight again, and after developing some serious snacking habits, I decided to make a reset with a short-term keto diet.
After a week, I was transformed again. I was full of energy, my productivity was through the roof, my mood was a lot more stable, and I felt a lot more in shape.
I kept this lifestyle for three weeks, then came back to my previous diet. And everything stopped.
So the evidence seems quite clear to me: I need to keep my carbohydrates level the lowest possible.
Like most people, I’ve read about how a high carbohydrate diet can have a significant impact on your health and pre-existing diseases. But why didn’t I suffer from that before moving here?
I had a standard French diet, back in France, which is probably healthier than the standard American one, but it’s far from being a low-carb diet. I mean, we’re famous for our pastries, bread, and baguettes, come on.
So it has to be something inside of the food here, in America.
Is it the way food is processed? Is it all the additives? The farming processes? I still don’t have answers to these questions.
The one thing I know is that it didn’t matter which quality of food I was buying, even the high-quality, $7 organic sourdough bread was making me like an old and sick 70-year-old person. It would make me nap. It would hurt my stomach. It would make me feel like I was poisoned.
To this day, I’m still unsure about which diet to follow. I don’t want to fall for the marketing of Dave Asprey, or other keto/low-carb gurus. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life eating only beef, salt, and water, like the adopters of the carnivore diet.
But what I know for sure is that carbohydrates in America are not working for me at all. And I still can’t believe how omnipresent they are.
The other day, I had trouble finding a brand of frozen cauliflower rice that didn’t have added sugar in it. Why would there be added sugar in cauliflower? This is insane.
To be honest, since moving here and monitoring carefully what I’ve been eating, it’s getting hard not to believe in some sort of conspiracy theory about the food that we eat. While I think a lot of people are making a ton of money out of this fear, by selling diets, supplements, and hacks to transform your biology, I do believe that there is some truth to it: carbs are bad for you, and most people are overeating them, making them feel terrible, all the time, without them even knowing about it.