Choosing a fruit over the chips with lunch, picking the side salad instead of fries, drinking water with lemon instead of a diet soda. These may be hard choices for some people. And if you eat out a few times each week this decision can be made hundreds of times in just a single year.
But once you understand what these foods do to you it will (hopefully) make that choice easier for you.
Processed foods are not food
I was reading a book, probably French kids eat Everything, and there was a line in there that make me chuckle. An American woman married a Frenchman and he came to America and while in the supermarket said to her “There’s no food here!” I stopped, put the book down and said to myself “he’s right!” You see the markets in France are just that…. markets, not SUPERmarkets like we have. They sell produce, vegetables, fruit, fresh cheeses and breads and meats. Our markets are chock full of foods (and I’m choking as I say that word) that sit on shelves in boxes.
Processed foods are made in a lab by people in lab coats
90% of all processed foods contain soy or corn
And unless the soy or corn are ORGANIC, they have been genetically modified which means they have RoundUp in them.
Processed foods contain pesticides
According to data compiled by Rodale, breakfast cereals have been found to contain up to 70 different types of pesticides, including warehouse fumigation and other residues. Even the cereals that say natural are contaminated with crop pesticides according to The Cornucopia Institute. Can you say eeewwww?
Your body burns more calories processing real foods
In other words, the more natural the state your food is in when you eat it, the more work it takes for your body to break it down. Ever wonder why you’re still hungry after eating half a bag of cheese doodles but not after eating protein? An interesting study was done in the Journal of Food and Nutrition Research where researchers compared a processed cheese sandwich (white bread, processed cheese) with a whole food cheese sandwich (whole grain bread with sunflower seeds and cheddar cheese). The participants who ate the whole sandwich burned 50% more calories! And it goes into more detail about the processed cheese participants metabolic rate going lower hours after eating the sandwich. You can read more about that here.
Processed foods have less fiber and more sugar
Let’s face it we are getting larger and larger as a nation and with that we are seeing more and more kids facing pre diabetes or Juvenile Diabetes at earlier ages. Eating a diet that is highly processed is increasing the diabetes rates in our country because the glycemic index of these foods is higher, meaning they raise blood sugar levels very quickly. This constant up and down of blood sugar results in the energy/crash syndrome which so many of us have experienced, which leads us into the next reason…
Processed foods just make you feel yucky
Processed deli meats, chocolate, donuts and pastries made with refined flours and sugars, cereals high in added sugar and preservatives all have an effect on our mood. Researchers suggest a diet in whole foods such as fresh fruits and plant based meals are higher in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals leaving you feeling fuller and satisfied longer. Haven’t you ever felt just plain sick after eating too much of something processed? I know I have!
What you eat has a direct impact on future diseases and health issues
There is OVERWHELMING evidence now that shows eating a diet high in processed foods, with the chemicals and preservatives that are in them, have a DIRECT LINK to cancer, heart disease, strokes, and diabetes.
Processed foods contain phosphates
Which according to Nathan Gray of www.foodnavigator.com should be labeled warning the consumer of potential risks. Phosphates occur naturally in foods like eggs, however they are now being used in increasing amounts in processed foods to preserve shelf life. Avoid flavored noodle mixes, powdered mac and cheese and fast foods and anything with calcium phosphate, sodium phosphate or Phos in the ingredients
Sugar is addictive
There have been numerous studies that have found when a person consumes sugar it triggers the release of opioids, which are neurotransmitters in your brain’s pleasure center. People on high sugar diets can show physical signs of with drawl when eliminating sugar from their diet. Do you want this to happen to your child?
As a society we are always looking for the next quick fix to lose weight or to get healthy when it all just comes right back to what we eat. The weight loss industry is a multi billion dollar industry now and it’s like being on a merry go round really. It’s like the chicken and the egg.
If you eat food that is not in it’s natural state, the way it was grown, it has been processed. I’m not going to say we eat a WHOLE FOOD PLANT BASED diet everyday because the truth is we don’t, but we’re trying and with each passing month I’m incorporating a new recipe or vegetable to try.
Being aware is the 1st step, then finding alternatives to these processed foods is the next.
Which would YOU rather eat?
- Kristensen, M., Tourbro, S., et al. Whole Grain Compared with Refined Wheat Decreased the Percentage of Body Fat Following a 12 Week, Energy-Restricted Diet Intervention in Postmenopausal Women. Journal of Nutrition. 2012. 142(4), 710-716.