A stroll down your grocery store’s aisles can be a tempting experience. Rows and rows of yummy foods all wrapped up in colorful lovely packages, encouraging you to give it a try with catchy names and creative graphics designs.
Good food, delicious yummy food that’s appealing to the eye, and convenient to boot. Anything that yummy delicious has to be nourishing, right?
Processed foods aren’t just what you pick up at a drive thru.
The first image that comes out to mind for most people when they hear the term “processed food” is a wrapped burger and a sleeve of fries served over a counter at a fast food joint.
But the truth is, the very food you have in your cabinets is processed.
What is exactly mean by processed food anyway?
- If it’s boxed, bagged, canned or jarred and has a list of ingredients on the label, it’s processed. Methods used to process foods include:
- Aseptic Processing
Processed foods have been altered from their natural state for “safety” and convenience reasons. And scary as it seems, about 90% percent of the money that Americans spend on food is used to buy processed items.
Food is good the way it is, Why process it?
Processed foods are more convenient – that’s what it comes down to. It’s so much easier and faster to bake a cake by opening up a box, pouring out a dry mix, and adding an egg and some oil than starting from scratch.
Having Jambalaya in five minutes after pouring hot water into a carton makes your prep time for lunch a breeze.
But convenience isn’t the only thing you get when you eat processed foods. There’s a whole list of ingredients that manufacturers add to2:
- Color – It gives your orange soda that neon glow
- Stabilize – So your gravy isn’t watery
- Emulsify – Who says oil and water can’t mix?
- Bleach – Let’s disinfect and deodorize
- Texturize – Nothing’s worse than soggy cereal…
- Soften – It’s as if the ice cream was churned twice
- Preserve – What if you want to eat the cupcake six months from now?
- Sweeten – Sugar is sweet but saccharin and aspartame is sweeter
- Hide Odors – Do you really want to smell the fish paste in your instant Pad Thai?
- Flavor – Nothing like having the sweet taste of watermelon all year round
How kind of them!
If you can’t pronounce it, Do you want to eat it?
The problem is, most processed foods have a laundry list of ingredients similar to that of a can of paint. It’s not as simple as adding a little sugar to canned bisque or lemon juice to a scone mix.
Take a look and observe at the list of ingredients from the strawberry flavoring of a milkshake served at a zip-through restaurant:
Amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamylvalerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl Nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerbate, heliotropin, hydroxphrenyl-butanone(10% solution to alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbone, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl slicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobulyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, sore rum ether, g-undecalctone, vanillin, and solvent
Looks delicious and yummy, doesn’t it? And this is just a small sampling of the SIX THOUSAND chemicals used to process foods.
That wouldn’t go in my body!
For now you might be thinking that you have nothing to worry about because you wouldn’t dream of drinking a milkshake let alone anything else from a fast food restaurant.
But this goes far beyond fast food.
What’s in your cabinet?
A study conducted at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families videotaped 32 families including their dinner routines for a three-year period. Although 70% of the dinners were home-cooked, most included moderate amounts of packaged food.
How many processed foods are you using each day?
A frozen fish stick never killed anybody
A few reasons you might want to think twice before throwing a jar of Vienna Sausages in your shopping cart:
- CANCER – Some synthetic chemicals used in the processed foods industry are known to have carcinogenic properties.
- In fact, a seven-year study conducted by the University of Hawaii of almost 200,000 people found that those who ate the most processed meats (hot dogs, bologna) had a 67% percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those who ate little or no meat products.
- OBESITY – Heavily processed foods are usually higher in sugar, fat and salt, and lower in nutrients and fiber than the raw foods used to create them, making them the perfect choice if you’re interested in unhealthy weight gain and water retention.
- According to the World Health Organization, processed foods are to blame for the spike in obesity levels and chronic disease around the world.
- HEART DISEASE – Many processed foods have trans fatty acids (TFA), the dangerous type of fat you don’t want in your diet. TFA’s give a rise to LDL, the dangerous cholesterol, and squash HDL, the good one.
Harvard recently conducted a study which found that women who avoided high-carb processed foods cut their heart disease risk by 30%.
If That’s Not Enough To Make You Avoid Processed Foods, Try Swallowing This:
- Your taste buds become used to the strong flavors of processed foods and make you want to add more salt or sugar to the natural flavors of whole foods.
- Some processed foods are filled with indistinguishable parts and pieces, like snouts, ears and esophagi (yum!).
- To make up for the loss of nutrients during processing, synthetic vitamins and minerals are added to “enhance” their nutritional content.
- Spending more on processed foods just means spending less on locally grown foods, particularly organic.
- Eating a diet high in processed foods can lead to diabetes, high blood and liver overload.
Ok, You’re convinced, but what are some options?
You wouldn’t be the first person to think eating a natural, wholesome diet with nutrient-dense foods means eating foods that could easily be mistaken for Styrofoam. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Eating food in its natural state (food without ingredients!) is a great reminder for your palate of the clean, crisp tastes of nature. Try just one recipe from the example, and you’ll know that to be true.
Take a look a the list of ingredients of a bowl of homemade carrot ginger soup versus canned carrot ginger soup – even if it’s from your natural grocer – and you’ll immediately know which is the better choice.
The benefits are endless..
The Body Ecology Diet is ideal for anyone interested in moving away from processed foods, toward a diet focused around eating only fresh, wholesome foods as nature created them.