Chances are, you’ve heard of processed foods before. But more than likely, you’re familiar with the argument that processed food is bad for you.
What you may not have known, however, is that processed foods are not just your ready meals and Christmas dinners in a tin. Which, if you eat, by the way, you might need to question your priorities – just saying. Anyways, processed food is any type of food that has been altered in any way during preparation, for example, whether it’s been frozen, canned, dried, or baked.
But why is it bad for you and why should you avoid foods straight out of a tin? Well, this blog post has all the answers, beginning with a few popular examples of foods that you may want to cross off your list.
A few examples of processed foods
Below, we’ve gathered a few examples of processed foods. While you don’t need to avoid these like the plague, you should consider limiting your consumption to a minimum:
- Breakfast cereal
- Cakes and biscuits
- Potato chips
- Savory snacks
- Bacon, sausages, and pâte
- Sugary beverages and energy drinks
- Frozen pizza & other ready meals
These are only a few examples of foods you should limit your intake of. However, the list goes on and on – it could be worth re-assessing your shopping list and replacing some less healthy items with whole grains and non-processed foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, locally sourced meat, and fresh fish.
So, what should foods should you be eating instead?
What is it that makes processed food so bad for you? Well, a lot of processed foods contain added salt and sugar, and in some cases, the food’s structure is also altered in some form to change the taste and extend the shelf-life.
Not only are you consuming foods that have been altered, but chances are, you’re increasing your intake of salt, sugars, and calories. And as we all know, excessive amounts of all three are related to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and a whole array of other health problems.
So, consider switching out those food choices with alternatives such as:
- Brown rice and quinoa
- Fresh fruit and vegetables (not frozen)
- Eggs and fish
- Beans and lentils
- Tea and coffee
These are just a few ideas, however, on your next trip to the grocery store, ask yourself: is this food fresh, or has it been altered in some way or another? A simple question like this can help limit your intake of processed meat, frozen vegetables, and other additives.
What are the health risks associated with processed foods?
Chances are, you’re aware that eating highly processed foods is not good for you. Besides, they have to come with some disadvantages, right? Even though they taste great, which sucks…
Well, according to the British Medical Journal, which investigated two large European studies, eating ultra-processed foods, think fizzy drinks, baked goods, and sugary cereals, was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Although the exact numbers and statistics are not known, the reverse is also evident: those that eat less processed foods and more whole foods are less at risk.
A WebMD article also mentioned the increased risk of certain cancers as a result of these ultra-processed foods. Therefore, making these dietary changes is crucial, reducing your risk of virtually all diseases, improving your health, and even saving you money on medical bills.
How do you make a change?
If you want to make a change, then you’re not alone. Often, many people who discover the consequences of consuming ultra-processed foods want to take a stand, limiting their intake, and transforming their health.
But how do you actually make a change? And more importantly, how do you stick to it?
Well, for starters, you can become more aware when you shop – read the food labels and packaging, shop in the fresh produce section, and purchase fresh meat and fish instead of frozen alternatives.
You don’t need to change your diet and lifestyle overnight. So, take it slow, choose foods you enjoy, and know that you can treat yourself once in a while. You should still enjoy your food, but you should become more aware.