-By Diana Tap – May 28, 2014
What Is Processed Foods:
Processed foods can vary slightly, but it usually refers to foods that are packaged in boxes, cans, bags or packages. These foods need to be processed extensively to be edible and are done so by adding additional ingredients that are usually unpronounceable. These additions then change the food from its original natural state.
You can determine whether a food is processed by looking at the ingredient list. The longer the ingredient list, the more processed a food is likely to be. The more processing steps involved the more nutrients and vitamins are then lost. Processed foods are usually found in the center aisles of the grocery store and are more likely to contain ingredients that are unrecognizable such as preservatives, food dyes and chemicals. These are not real food ingredients that you would cook with at home.
Processing also refers to the structural change in some foods like crackers. These usually have Trans fats added to increase their shelf life. Trans fats are created when vegetable oils are overheated and the molecular structure of the fat changes. Trans fats are linked to serious diseases like heart and cancer and should be avoided. In other words, processing usually means removing nutrients, swapping good nutrients for bad, increasing calorie content and removing other valuable things like fibre.
Processed Food Facts:
Did you know that 90% of the food in grocery stores is processed? 70% of the average American’s diet is made up of processed foods. In 2007, I made the decision to eliminate the majority of processed foods from our diet and that percentage was 70% of what we were consuming.
Processing affects the taste and properties of the food. Food manufacturers will then add cheap or artificial ingredients such as sugars, salt, fats or additives to restore the lost flavor properties and improve the texture for appearance and to extend the shelf life of the food.
Did you know that 100 years ago, the leading cause of death in my grandparents generation was infectious diseases. They ate a lot more whole foods, with higher nutritional value. Obesity wasn’t a problem.
Why Foods Are Processed:
Convenience is the main drive for processed foods. Food travels long distances and it sits in supermarket shelves for long periods of time and so preservation and safety concerns regarding some foods are an issue. Processing is used to kill harmful bacteria and other microorganisms in order to extend the shelf life.
The Trouble With Fat-Free:
• Fat-Free foods must have less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving
• Low-Fat foods must have 3 grams of fat or less per serving
• Reduced Fat foods must have at least 25% less fat than regular versions of those foods.
• Light foods must have either 1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat
Fat-Free also lacks in taste and flavor and to make up for that, food makers will add other ingredients like sugar, flour, thickeners and salt and this adds calories. The foods are usually not appealing and less satisfying and you end up consuming more of them.
Ingredients and Foods To Avoid Whenever Possible
• Canned foods that are high in sodium or fat.
• Flavored chips, crackers and snacks.
• Frozen dinners
• Sugary cereals
• Processed meats – Look for meat labeled, Minimally Processed.
• Most condiments including bottled sauces, dressings, marinades, pre-flavored packaged products and boxed foods.
• All soda/pop – regular contains sugar and diet contains Aspartame
• Any products that specifically list these ingredients on the label: MSG, Corn Syrup Solids, Yellow 5&6, Blue#1, Red40, artificial colors and sweeteners.
Take A Reasonable and Practical Approach (Baby Steps Here Or You Will Get Discouraged)!
It’s important to understand that you are not going to eliminate everything, but you can significantly reduce it! You have to take a practical approach and eliminate what you can, and then look for healthier alternative products. Incorporate the use of fresh ingredients, like fruits and vegetables. Cook more at home and look for healthy recipes that contain minimal ingredients. Plan ahead and prepare meals in advance. Eliminate Fast Food!! If this is the only thing you end up eliminating altogether, trust me when I say you will notice a huge difference in the way you feel and your body will thank you!
If you have any questions or you just need a little encouragement along the way….I’ll be there for you!
I’ve been through this myself and the most difficult step is going to be the first one. It does get easier and you will feel better and have more energy. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your progress. I’d love to hear from you!