One of the major reasons for the tripling of the obesity rate in the United States from the 1960’s to present day is the tremendous increase in use of processed foods. The dual working family unit has contributed greatly to the need for meals to be available quickly. The days of “Mom” being at hope cooking a healthy dinner for the family while “Dad” is out there working have been replaced by both parents working their tails off. No one has the time to prepare a fresh protein and fresh vegetable dinner.
First, let’s discuss the definition of “processed foods”: This is a very large category of foods that have been altered prior to sale or consumption. When you think about it, this is pretty much every thing we see being sold in the supermarkets except for a fairly small list of fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, nuts, seeds, and a few other foods that are consumed essentially as they were when they left the earth, tree, vine, pod, shell, sea or slaughterhouse.
So, a better question as we stroll the aisles is not whether we are looking at processed foods, but just how “processed” they are. The freezer section provides many food sources that have been “processed” a great deal. The pizzas, microwave dinners, breakfast sandwiches and other assorted “convenient” foods tend to be the very worst of the processed foods.
Here are reasons why processed foods are “bad” for us:
- They tend to be high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup
- Often high in refined carbohydrates and trans fats
- Engineered for over consumption
- Contain artificial ingredients
- Low in nutrients
- Developed for great taste and in turn, leads to addiction to that food/snack source
- Require less time and energy to digest
If there is extra budget available, there are meal delivery companies that do offer fresh, non-processed foods that make it quite convenient to pop in the oven. Supermarkets, especially ones like Wegmans, offer up meatloaf, turkey breasts and other protein dishes that are much better than the processed meals found in the freezer section.
During your long-term weight control journey, try to steer clear of highly processed foods. This is not easy but you will be rewarded with better weight control success.