What are Processed Foods?

Processed foods, or the more favorable description "convenience foods", have ruled in the 20th century and continue to influence the majority of the food that we consume.

Over 60% of our food consumption today is intensely processed. We have become processed people from the cradle to the grave. Moreover, those ultra-processed foods account for 90 percent of the added sugar consumption in the U.S.

Eat Food, Not Food Like Things!

Americans are bombarded with ads in all mediums promoting food like things that are made with:

  • GMO's
  • pesticides
  • synthetic chemicals
  • artificial food dyes
  • emulsifiers
  • sweeteners
  • salt
  • preservatives
  • unhealthy fats
  • artificial flavorings and more

Manufacturers even engineer their products to produce a "delicious" effect that can cause addictive responses to get you hooked. We wonder why we love the food.

Fresh food is defined as taken straight from the source and prepared to be eaten. Even the preparation of this class of food would be called "minimally processed". 

Most of us think of processed foods as those that come in a variety of containers. Here are some of the ultra-processed forms:

  • Ready to eat meals
  • Frozen and canned foods
  • Cereals, energy bars, oatmeal
  • Baby foods
  • Cookies, pastries, pies, pizza
  • Salad dressings, marinades, condiments, dellies
  • Fermented food and yogurt
  • Microwave dinner
  • Luncheon meats, sausage, corned beef
  • Bottle sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices, wine, beer, liquors
  • Chips and dips

The easiest way to determine if you should eat any processed food is by looking at the food label. Many health advocates say that if the product has more than 5 ingredients listed, forget about it. The more ingredients, the more processed the food will probably be. 

Stay on the outside perimeter of the grocery store to purchase most of your food. The interior holds processed food. 

There are over 5, 000 food additives approved for food manufacturers along with another 5,000 packaging additives that are just as dangerous. We don't really know all of the health problems caused by these product but here are a few maladies that are suspect:

  • Alzheimer's
  • Parkinson
  • Lou Gehrig's disease
  • Childhood behavioral problems and learning disabilities
  • Brain tumors and brain dysfunction
  • Cancer, diabetes, obesity

Now that you know what processed foods are...

It is not easy to give up them up. They are convenient, addictive, affordable and sometimes delicious! The additives are purposely there to stimulate the dopamine or "feel good" transmitter in the brain. This process is similar to how narcotics affect us. 

Unfortunately, we live in a chemical food world. Our forefathers ate mostly whole real food. "Convenience food" was not on the radar in their times. Eat real Whole food, not food-like things. 

Here are some thoughts of Michael Pollan, a noted American author, which may encourage you to stay away from the wrong aisles in the grocery store:

1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. "When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can't pronounce, ask yourself, "What are those things doing there?" Pollan says.  

2.  Don't eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce. 

3 Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.

4. Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. "There are exceptions - honey, but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food", Pollan says. 

5. Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car. 

Who wants to be a processed person?

At our house we try to eat as much REAL food as possible. Of course, we cannot eat whole unprocessed food all the time...but, by making an effort to eliminate most processed foods the rewards will be great.

Barbara prepares great meals for us that are mainly whole fresh food. It does take planning and thought. You can do it once you decide not to be processed. The closer you get to consuming basic unaltered foods, the result will always be better health.

Take charge of your life here on planet earth and live a healthy and happy long life.

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Return from Processed Foods to Healthy Food Choices