I have put food items on my blog that are “processed foods.” But, when losing weight and you are NEW to changing your lifestyle, it is very hard at first to give up everything. I do believe in making the changes and not worrying too much about processed foods until you hit a point where your sugar cravings have disappeared and you are used to eating smaller portions of proteins six times a day, with two small servings of fruit and four small servings of veggies.
So, let’s assume you are used to your new eating plan. What are processed foods and how are they bad?
Processed food has a bad reputation as a diet saboteur. It’s blamed for our nation’s obesity epidemic, high blood pressure and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. But processed food is more than boxed macaroni and cheese, potato chips and fast food. Whole-wheat bread, homemade soup or a chopped apple are also processed foods.
Different types of processed foods:
Minimally processed foods :
- bagged lettuce, spinach, etc, cut vegetables and roasted nuts — are often simply pre-prepped for convenience.
Moderately processed food, processed at their peak to lock in nutritional quality and freshness:
- canned beans, tomatoes, frozen fruit and vegetables, and canned tuna.
More than moderately processed foods with ingredients added for flavor and texture:
- sweeteners, spices, oils, colors and preservatives) include jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, yogurt and cake mixes.
- Ready-to-eat foods, like crackers, granola, and deli meat, are more heavily processed.
The most heavily processed foods:
- frozen or pre-made meals like frozen pizza and microwave dinners.
Some processed foods are ok:
Processed food can be beneficial to your diet.
- Milk and juices are sometimes fortified with calcium and vitamin D, and breakfast cereal may have added fiber. Canned fruit (packed in water or its own juice) is a good option when fresh fruit is not available.
- Some minimally processed food like pre-cut vegetables are quality convenience foods for busy people. Bagged vegetables and salads are helping people eat more vegetables. They’re more expensive, but if your choice is between paying less and chopping it when you know you’re not going to do that, and paying a little more for the bagged vegetable you know you’re going to eat, the [bagged vegetable] is a better choice.
You need to read the ingredients list and review the nutrition facts panel.
Look for Hidden Sugar, Sodium and Fat
Eating processed food in moderation is fine, but consumers should be on the lookout for hidden sugar, sodium and fat.
Sugar isn’t just hidden in processed sweets. It’s added to bread,pasta sauces and cereal. The number of carbohydrates on the nutrition label also includes naturally occurring sugars which may be a significant amount in foods like yogurt and fruit. Instead, review a product’s ingredients list and look for added sugars among the first two or three ingredients such as sugar, maltose, brown sugar, corn syrup, cane sugar, honey and fruit juice concentrate.
Most canned vegetables, soups and sauces have added sodium. We need some sodium, but we often consume much more than the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommended 2,300 mg a day (1,500 mg a day for those over 51 years of age, or African-Americans, diabetics and those with hypertension or chronic kidney disease). High sodium intake is linked to hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Three quarters of our sodium intake comes from processed foods. Only 20 or 25 percent of it comes from salting our food.
Canned vegetables, soups and beans can be packed with nutrients, so don’t cross them off your shopping list entirely. Instead, look for reduced or low sodium on labels. Also, always rinse canned beans and vegetables and reduce sodium content by about 40 percent.
Some fat in your diet is good for you. It isn’t the fat that is the problem in weight gain….it is SUGAR and CARBOHYDRATES. Your body needs fat. It doesn’t need sugar or carbs. But, your brain and body can get addicted to sugar and carbs.
SO HOW TO DEAL WITH GETTING AWAY FROM PROCESSED FOODS:
Tossing everything in your pantry out all at once is a good way to waste money, but gradually replacing processed foods with fresh alternatives helps curb cravings and hunger. Highly processed foods are low in nutrients, causing the body to seek more food to find the nutrients it needs, which leads to a vicious cycle of overeating.
- You don’t have to empty the pantry all at once, but slowly start making swaps like fresh fruit and yogurt for protein bars (which can contain as much sugar as a candy bar) or hummus and fresh veggies instead of nutritionally devoid pretzels.
- Eat fresh food. Fresh meat, salads, fruits and vegetables.
- Learn to Cook! It isn’t that hard. Find time. Your iPAD games or Playstation is not more important than your health. You can prepare foods and have leftovers for days. Some things take little time to cook.
- Learn about Genetically Modified Food and how it is ruining your body and keeping us overweight and sick. Start to read labels on whether the items you are purchasing are organic, grain fed or not.
Genetically modified food is a huge problem for people and has been, since it was introduced 30 years ago. Notice the obesity rate has increased since they started messing with how they grow or raise our food?! There are also more stomach and colon issues because our intestinal balances are completely being messed up. GMOis a whole other Oprah and perfect for another blog day. If you want to read more, Foodbabe.com and Fooducate.com!