We know processed foods should be limited in our diet but what about Ultra-Processed foods? Are they worse than processed foods? Research says yes. They are the junk foods many of us have come to enjoy. Soda, chips, donuts, cakes, cookies and fast foods are all considered Ultra-Processed Foods. On the other hand unprocessed or minimally processed foods are whole foods that are in their natural or nearly natural state. These include veggies, fruits, unprocessed meats and raw nuts for example. So, depending on the amount of change the food undergoes, processing may be minimal or significant. For instance, frozen fruit is usually minimally processed, while lunchmeat, pizza, soda, chips and microwave meals are ultra-processed foods.
Eighteen percent of American children and nearly 40 percent of adults are now obese. Not over-weight, obese. Soda and all the other ultra-processed foods have been shown to be the culprit. Excess empty calories, sugar and processed carbohydrates.
Ultra-processed foods cause excess calorie intake and weight gain. Those who eat more ultra-processed food have higher rates of obesity, heart problems, diabetes, stroke and cancer. Studies find for every 10 percent increase in ultra-processed food intake cancer rates increased by 12 percent. Eating many calories throughout the day of these types of foods usually means getting less veggies and fruits, healthy proteins and good fats. This means poorer health in the long run, more disease. I find this to be so true in my work!
We have been programmed to eat processed foods for so long many of us are not sure what is healthy.
When I have new clients I have them give me a food log of everything they eat for 3 days. I then go through and teach them why some things may be highly processed and what other options they could have. I encourage clients to read labels so they can spot those ingredients that wreak havoc on their health and keep them from attaining optimal health, including maintaining a proper weight. I encourage them to prepare more meals at home with fresh, whole ingredients, and stay away from fast food and snack foods.
Recently I had a client that told me he had toast with Nutella on it. I can’t imagine the reaction on my face when he said that! I tried to explain that regular natural peanut or almond butter would be a healthier option. Another client recently says she eats protein bars for breakfast and lunch and has a normal dinner. After evaluating her food log she was eating the majority of her daily food intake from ultra-processed foods. I really believe many people just do not know. It is not our fault, it’s the media and the commercials that are allowed to deceive us. It is confusing and I understand why. This is probably one of the topics I speak to clients most about. I am so passionate about teaching people to eat healthy and cook at home. To teach their children so they can teach their’s. I love to have cooking classes for clients that want to learn. I offer in-home as well as virtual Nutrition Consultations and cooking classes. It’s not just about exercise. We need to fuel our bodies with healthy food! For most that are not used to meal planning or cooking there are options. But, I still try to sneak in some easy, healthy recipes for clients that seem willing to cook at home 🙂
Ultra-processed foods are everywhere we go, everywhere we look. Tv, gas stations and magazines. We need to go back to the way our ancestors ate. Whole food, real food, unprocessed or as minimally processed as we can. It is a decision that is up to you. Your health and your families health depends on it! On-step at a time. You can do this!