Processed Foods: Are You Eating Poison? Our Non “Sensationalists” Thoughts

Let me start off by saying, I get it.

In our fast-paced world, there are days when reaching for processed foods can be the most practical choice.

Whether it’s due to a tightly packed schedule, limited access to fresh ingredients at the moment, or simply needing a break from the kitchen, processed foods offer convenience and quick hunger relief.

It’s important to acknowledge that everyone’s circumstances are different, and sometimes, these ready-to-eat options allow for mealtime to fit easier into a hectic day.

However, it’s also important to note that, most times when we reach for these processed foods it’s due to lack of planning and preparation. You have to decide what your priority is. If improving health is a priority then planning needs to be at the top of your list.

Convenience Foods

In our busy lives, processed foods can serve as a convenient choice for meals and snacks. Knowing what processed foods are an option that are “good enough” vs contributing to a problem or injecting something potentially harmful is important.

In addition, what is the cost that this convenience comes at?

This post dives into what processed foods are, why they might be harmful, and how you can make other choices.

What are Processed Foods?

Processed foods are any foods that have been altered from their natural state for safety reasons or convenience. Examples include canned vegetables, frozen fruits, and packaged snacks.

Not all processed foods are bad; it’s the heavily processed ones, often called “ultra-processed,” that you need to watch out for. These include soft drinks, sugary cereals, and ready-to-eat meals loaded with additives, preservatives, and artificial ingredients.

Let’s start with an example of processed foods that you can enjoy due to convenience and nutritional benefits. Like canned vegetables or fruits. Here are some things to look for when purchasing canned vegetables or fruits (or “processed” anything for that matter).

Pick varieties that are canned in water, 100% juice or in its own juices. Many varieties of fruit come packed in light or heavy syrup, which translates to added sugars. Choose canned vegetables without added salts, labeled “no salt added” or “low sodium.”

Be mindful that cans marked “reduced sodium” are not necessarily sodium-free. Draining and rinsing canned beans and vegetables can help reduce the sodium content as well.

Why Could Certain Processed Foods Be Considered Poisonous?

  1. High in Sugar and Artificial Ingredients: Many processed foods contain high levels of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, which can contribute to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
  2. Low Nutritional Value: Processing often strips foods of essential nutrients, such as fiber and vitamins, making them less beneficial and sometimes even harmful to your health.
  3. Additives and Preservatives: Chemicals used to extend shelf life and enhance flavor can have negative effects on your health. Research links certain food additives to health issues ranging from allergic reactions to increased cancer risk.
    • One of many examples: Yellow No. 5, also known as tartrazine, is a synthetic dye found in many processed foods like CapNCrunch cereal. This product as well as others found in the US are actually banned in some other countries where tartrazine is subject to stricter regulations. Products containing tartrazine in Europe must display a warning label indicating the dye “may have effects on activity and attention in children,” reflecting concerns about behavioral impacts.
    • Studies highlight potential health concerns associated with tartrazine. It has been found to have cytotoxic and mutagenic effects on various cell types, indicating potential harmful impacts at a cellular level. Further, the dye has been linked to hyperactivity in children and other behavioral effects. While conclusive evidence on its carcinogenic potential is still lacking, the noted cellular impacts call for cautious use and further investigation​ (BioMed Central)*

*Keep in mind this is just ONE additive of others that are can be affecting your health.

​The Impact on Your Health

Consuming high amounts of processed foods is linked to numerous health problems. Besides digesting certain additives that other countries have banned for health reasons, like listed above:

  • Obesity: High calorie and low nutrient content promote weight gain.
  • Heart Diseases: Excessive salt and trans fats can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure.
  • Digestive Issues: Lack of fiber contributes to poor digestion and can lead to gastrointestinal distress.

How to Make Healthier Choices

  1. Read Labels: Start by reading food labels to understand what’s in your food. Look for products with fewer ingredients and ingredients you recognize. Don’t just trust the front of whatever advertising is on the package. Low salt might mean high fat, low fat, might mean high sugar.
  2. Choose Less Processed Options: Opt for minimally processed foods like frozen vegetables and frozen fruits without added sugars or preservatives. It’s super easy to pop a bag of frozen vegetables in the microwave.
  3. Cook at Home or Purchase the Foods in Whole: Preparing meals at home allows you to control what goes into your food, making it easier to avoid unhealthy additives and excess sugars or fats. Choosing foods in the whole foods form is going to be your best bet for health!

Processed foods might be convenient, but their long-term effects on your health can be severe. By making informed choices and opting for less processed alternatives, you can significantly improve your health and well-being.

These choices are MUCH much easier to make if we plan ahead.

Ready to get started with us on your health and fitness journey? Having a coach can take away the confusion and SPEED up your results!

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