In order to see the benefit of eating unprocessed foods and taking the time to re-learn, to a certain extent, how to eat, you must understand what a processed food is and why it should be avoided. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “processed food falls on a spectrum from minimally processed, to heavily processed”.
Minimally processed food is food that is not in its original state like cut up fruits or vegetables. Highly processed foods are foods that are nowhere near their original state like chicken nuggets. I am sorry to say my children lived on chicken nuggets growing up. Highly or ultra-processed foods are also foods that don’t resemble food, because they are made of mostly chemicals like chips and candies or other packaged items.
When I refer to processed foods, I am talking about ultra-processed foods, foods that are made more of chemicals than real food. You can recognize processed foods because they contain large amounts of salt, sugar, additives and preservatives and other ingredients that you don’t recognize.
The really bad news is that your body doesn’t recognize them either.
If your body doesn’t recognize what you’re putting into it, you’re not getting the nutrients you need and your body is storing a bunch of chemical junk because it can’t figure out what to do with it. Some of the ingredients that are found in highly processed food have the ability to turn off the switch in your brain that tells you that you are full, and so you eat much more, because you are not feeling satisfied or full. Another reason to steer clear of processed foods is that studies suggest that there may be a link between processed foods and autoimmune diseases and cancer.
Being a breast cancer survivor, avoiding cancer and other diseases is very important to me. There are no guarantees in life, but I can do everything in my power to keep my body healthy. I also want to be healthy with the least amount of work necessary, so short cuts are my super power. In order to transition to unprocessed eating, I started by trying to avoid foods that contain:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Hydrogenated Oil or Trans Fats
- Artificial Colors and Sweeteners
- Foods with more than 10 ingredients or ingredients that I can’t buy to use myself (Sodium Benzoate, Yellow #12)
I feel that if I have done this, I have already done a lot in my quest to avoid processed foods. Remember, you don’t have to be completely inflexible to adjust your eating habits. Do it a little at a time and adjust slowly and begin to make small changes that create healthy habits.
I am all about convenience and time savers when it comes to my three meals a day and any snacks I might have. On this site you will find unprocessed food recipes, time saving tips and other freebies to help you navigate through your new lifestyle. You CAN do this, and it doesn’t have to be too time consuming.
Anything that you do is more than you were doing before, and it all counts. I am not without flexibility on this subject; I just want to make processed foods the exception, instead of the rule.