Food Processing…has it gone to far?

The short answer is yes. The spectrum on food production and preparation is very broad. Basically scratch home made to delivered hot and ready. So what happens as we swing from one end to the other? A lot. With apps that allow you to order with just a few taps, it can be extremely tempting to forgo cooking dinner. But there are often trade-offs for convenience. Lets look at the spectrum of whole foods vs processed foods a little closer.

What do you think of when I ask about whole foods? The whole foods that I am referring to are foods that are in their natural state with little or no processing and no artificial ingredients. Like many things, food falls on a spectrum. At one end you have the healthiest options such as whole foods and at the other end are highly processed foods. Let’s take a look at what types of foods fall along the spectrum and how to find balance along the way.

At the far end of the spectrum are highly processed foods. Highly processed foods are far from their natural state and often have sugar, unhealthy fats, sodium, and preservatives added to extend their shelf life. They are energy-dense (lots of calories) but not nutrient-dense and can lead to obesity and chronic disease over time.

So, how do we navigate this gap between seemingly healthy and unhealthy foods? It can be very frustrating to actually know if we are eating healthy, especially this time of year. Many of us are fooled into believing that because we are so busy, we have to accept poor food choices for the greater good, right? WRONG! If you are a busy person, you need good quality nutrition to maintain your physical and mental well being. Let’s look at some basic tools we can use to help us navigate the food spectrum.

  • Mindfulness; Try to think about what your body needs, it’s telling you if you listen.
  • Habits; Habits are made to be broken, I’m an expert! Bad habits are easy, good ones take work.
  • Read labels; Hear is a good read to get you started.
  • Make healthy substitutions; whole grains for white flour, raw sugar for white, butter or olive oil for margarine and vegetable oil…
  • Reduce alcohol consumption; Some types of alcohol like wine have benefits, but unfortunately more is not better.
  • Increase whole food intake; source local, seasonal and if possible organic fruits and vegetables. Do the same with meat, fish and poultry.

I realize that it is the holiday season, and sometimes healthy choices can be difficult. There’s always New Years, right? That works almost never. The point is to start somewhere. Start cooking. It’s a healthy activity, you have to think, use your senses, and it’s fun! Cooking for others is rewarding as well. I’m not saying goodby to all the BAD stuff, just making it the last choice, instead of the first. Make your family a delicious meal, save the cookies for the end…a treat.

Cheers, and happy hump day! 31 more sleeps until Christmas…



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