How to Avoid Ultra Processed Foods and Why - Diet Rite System
How to Avoid Ultra Processed Foods and Why

How to Avoid Ultra Processed Foods and Why

In this fast-paced world we live in, we have very little time for ourselves, so we’re constantly looking for ways to save time. One of the things we compromise most when trying to save or create more time is our diet.

This has caused many of us to gain weight or develop other health issues, like diabetes, heart disease, joint pains, inflammation, and more. The greatest wealth we have is our health, and we have to learn to not compromise our health by eating unhealthy foods.

Ideally, we’d like to shop the farmer’s market every day for fresh, local foods, and make all of our goodies from scratch. In reality, we live far from our food sources and have to buy foods we can store on the shelf, and we barely have time to eat dinner, much less prepare it.

Processed foods are convenient, and not all of them are bad for you. Pre-chopped vegetables or fruits canned in their own juice are processed foods that are considered healthy. Sometimes, however, convenience can mean large amounts of hidden sodium, fats, and sugar.

What is Processed Food?

Processed food is any food that’s altered during preparation to make it more convenient, give it longer shelf life, or be flavorful. A bagged salad or pre-cut green beans, or pre-washed spinach is technically considered processed, but it’s only minimally processed because its natural state hasn’t been altered.

However, Some foods are much more processed than others A box of macaroni and cheese or a microwavable dinner, on the other hand, are considered heavily processed (also called ultra-processed) because they’ve been chemically altered with artificial flavors, additives, and other ingredients..

A wide range of products are considered processed foods, including:

Soft drinks Store-bought ice cream Infant formula Chicken nuggets
Packaged bread/buns Boxed Cake mix Energy Bars Fast food burgers
chips Breakfast Cereal Flavored Yogurt French fries
Candy Instant Noodles/Ramen Refined Pasta Hot dogs
Milk Cheese Fruit Snacks Store-bought Pies

Health Risks of Heavily Processed Foods

There are many potential health effects of ultra-processed foods, including:

  • Increased cancer risk: A five-year study of over 100,000 people found that a 10% increase in ultra-processed food consumption was associated with a 12% higher risk for cancer.
  • Too much sugar, sodium, and fat. Heavily processed foods often include unhealthy levels of added sugar, sodium, and fat. These ingredients make the food we eat taste better, but too much of them leads to serious health issues like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • Lacking in nutritional value. Heavy processing strips many foods of their basic nutrients, which is why many foods today are fortified with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • A calorie is dense and addicting. It’s very easy to overindulge in unhealthy food and consume more calories than we realize. For example, an Oreo cookie has about 50 calories, while a cup of green beans is only 44 calories. Processed foods like these are also designed to stimulate our brain’s dopamine center, making us crave more of them in the future.
  • Quicker to digest. Processed foods are easier to digest than unprocessed, whole foods. That means our bodies burn less energy/calories) digesting them. This in general can make it easy to pack on the pounds.
  • Full of artificial ingredients. It is estimated there are about 5,000 substances are added to our food. Most of them have never been tested by anyone other than the company using them. That includes additives to change color, texture, flavor, and odor as well as ingredients like preservatives and sweeteners.

Processed Meats

Processed meat is generally considered unhealthy.

It has been linked with diseases like cancer and heart disease in numerous studies.

There is no doubt that processed meat contains many harmful chemicals not found in fresh meat.

Processed meat is meat that has been preserved by curing, salting, smoking, drying, or canning processed meat include:

  • Sausages, hot dogs, salami.
  • Ham, cured bacon.
  • Salted and cured meat, corned beef.
  • Smoked meat.
  • Dried meat, beef jerky.
  • Canned meat. Spam,
  • Sandwiches
  • Cold cuts

The World Health Organization has classified processed meats including ham, bacon, salami and frankfurts as a Group 1 carcinogen (known to cause cancer) which means that there’s strong evidence that processed meats cause cancer. Eating processed meat increases your risk of bowel and stomach cancer

Reducing Processed Foods in Your Diet

Even if you wanted to, it would be very difficult to remove all heavily processed foods from your diet. That would mean not eating out at most restaurants and skipping that hot dog at the family barbeque.

However, there are many things you can do to reduce the amount of processed food you consume:

  • Check the label. The longer the ingredient list, the more processed a food is. If most of the ingredients are hard-to-pronounce chemicals instead of actual food, it’s more than likely heavily processed food.
  • Shop the outside aisles at the grocery store. The center aisles of most grocery stores are full of packaged items and ready-made foods that are heavily processed. Consider buying more foods from the produce and frozen vegetable aisles.
  • Opt for minimally processed meats. Choose meats that have been minimally processed (e.g., seafood, chicken breast) while avoiding heavily processed meats (e.g., sausage, cured meats like bacon).
  • Start slowly. It’s okay to slowly replace processed foods in your diet with more fresh foods. In fact, it may make you more likely to stick to these changes long-term.
  • Cook more meals at home. You might not always be in control of your diet while traveling, but you are at home.

Make your own frozen meals by cooking a larger batch and freezing the leftovers, or whip up your own salad dressing.

While many aspects of our health can be complicated, eating less processed food doesn’t have to be. When in doubt, just start with real food. For the best #weighlosssupport and the best #healthydietadvice visit The best way to lose weight

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