Ways the American Diet Has Changed Over Time

Ways the American Diet Has Changed Over Time
Ways the American Diet Has Changed Over Time


America has changed a lot since its founding in 1776. Americans don’t dress, eat, talk, or walk the same way they did in the past!

American food culture is one thing that’s changed dramatically over the past two centuries. Food is more abundant and cheaper than ever before, and we can even reliably import foodstuff from across the globe.

As you might expect, these developments radically altered the American diet. Let’s examine some ways the American diet has changed over time.

The Rise of Fast Food

One massive part of modern American food culture that our food-loving Founding Fathers missed out on was fast food—there were no McDonald’s, Burger King, or Chick-fil-A locations to be found along the stone-and-gravel roads of America’s past.

The first American fast-food restaurants didn’t appear until the early ‘90s. And boy, did they take off immediately! Today, the average American eats fast food one to three times per week.

Unfortunately, the impact of fast food on the American diet isn’t a positive one. Fast food contains large amounts of sugar, fats, and carbs, and fewer minerals and vitamins. It’s associated with an increased risk of cancer, depression, digestive issues, heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

The people of America’s past had a lot to worry about regarding food, but unlike today, overly processed eatables weren’t on their list of concerns!

More or Less

Americans are eating more grains, fats, oil, and sugars than they once did. Why? Well, because they can find and afford them now.

Back then, these ingredients were luxury goods reserved for the exceptionally well-off.

Nowadays, you can buy them in bulk for rock-bottom prices at the local grocery store. Better accessibility and affordability transformed these once-rare commodities into household staples.

On the other side of the fence, Americans consume less beef and less whole milk. Concerns surrounding red meat have led to a historic decline in its consumption, while milk alternatives such as soy, almond, and coconut milk have replaced whole milk as the dominant milk.

Average Caloric Intake

A gradually increasing caloric intake is another way the American diet has changed over time.

The average colonists ate somewhere between 2000-2200 calories a day. The average modern American consumes 3,600 calories daily. Now that’s an impressive increase in kcal!

So why do Americans eat more than ever before? It’s not because their bodies need more calories to stay afloat.

The main culprit of this caloric increase is snacks. In the old days, snacks weren’t a thing. If you had money to spare, you might have treated yourself to candy or a couple of crackers. But indulging wasn’t something done regularly.

Today, snacks are cheap and delicious. If you’re feeling peckish, it’s easy to pop some chips in your mouth and move on with your day. But many Americans snack habitually, a compulsion that leads them to consume hundreds of extra calories per day.

GOOD MANNERS: Table Settings
BAD MANNERS: Taboo Food


More coming soon in this section ...