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Overly processed foods the bane of good health

Overly processed foods/drinks are the bane of good health. Unfortunately, they are ubiquitous and really should be consumed very sparingly if at all. Let me quickly make the distinction between processed and overly processed foods. The former have been minimally processed. Typically some form of food processing is generally required to make most foods edible and safe. For example, milk is not sold directly from the cow. It is pasteurized (processed) to make it safe for consumption.

Conversely overly processed foods have many nutrients stripped and many unhealthy additives introduced. These include several ingredients such as hydrogenated oils, salt, refined sugar (such as high-fructose corn syrup, food colouring), flavouring agents, emulsifiers, etc. Overly processed foods collectively form what is now popularly known as MAD. This is the acronym for the Modern American Diet.

 MAD includes a wide variety of unhealthy foods, such as potato crisps (chips), white rice, various breads made with white flour, (sliced bread, rolls, bagels), microwave popcorn, candy/sweets, chocolate bars, fast foods, pre-cooked packet meals, etc. These foods are often referred to as junk food and when eaten continuously without caution are likely to contribute to ill health.

These foods have become quite popular all over our fast paced world, as they are readily available, relatively cheap, and so seen as convenient.

Notice the relative low prices of the foods in the accompanying picture? That these foods are ready to be consumed  and are low in price often lure consumers, especially when on busy schedules. Trust me the associated medical and other costs will not be inconsequential. As was discussed in the blog 'Prevention is better than cure', the costs are not only financial, but can be emotional and physical too.

We must never let the convenience of these foods get us hooked on them, it just is not worth it. There is no substitute for eating a variety of the healthy foods available wherever we are.

 Some ailments that can occur with the uncontrolled, sustained consumption of these highly processed foods/drinks are high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, obesity, some cancers, etc. These are  often experienced over time, when these foods are eaten mindlessly for long periods.  

Other possible immediate effects of highly processed foods are mood swings and lethargy. I certainly remember experiencing these when overly processed foods made up a main part of the foods I ate. I have to say the replacement with stable emotions and increased energy levels when I started to eat healthy was glaring.

I write without fear of contradiction, that unless you have certain conditions, that must be treated; if you intentionally eliminate overly processed foods and drinks, YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT. And it will come off quite quickly too. Wondering what these conditions are? I dedicated a whole chapter to this in 'Moderation Is Key'.

These foods should be mainly replaced with real foods to be healthy. These are nutrient dense foods, that nourish our bodies. I give a comprehensive definition of these foods in one of my tips, titled 'Nutrient dense foods'. Please take a look.

Many have difficulty giving up highly processed foods. It really is no wonder...these foods are very addictive. The manufacturers of these products go to great lengths, incur high Research and Development costs to make these products that way. When people eat them in large quantities, for sustained periods, they get hooked on them. Unfortunately they have done this very successfully. They have found out the exact amount of fats (usually bad fats, trans fats), sugar (overly processed sugars, such as fructose) and salt. This is referred to the as bliss point, the amounts required to get consumers hooked.  

This is why many of these foods are quite tasty. I am not just writing, I know this from experience. Over 30 years ago, I ate them regularly and in substantial quantities. It was not unusual those many years ago, for me to consume meals that consisted of these foods only. I would eat without thinking about the harm I was causing my body, packets of potato crisps/chips, biscuit/cookies and whatever sugar laden beverage took my fancy...confessions of a former junk food addict. With hindsight it is fair to say that I had a very limited grasp if any of how unhealthy these foods are.

I got over my junk food addiction, you can too if you have this problem and desire to.

Thankfully I changed my eating habits and now eat predominantly nutrient dense foods and exercise, both in moderation. I have no doubt in my mind, that if I had not made the healthy lifestyle decision, I could very likely now be living with Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease etc. and been clinically obese. I could even have died  prematurely.  

Research has shown that it is easier to overcome drug, cigarette and alcohol addictions than it is to overcome addictions to overly processed foods. Yikes!

This is a huge problem as these overly processed food products are ubiquitous. Processed sugar is found in many of these foods, including in those that you would not expect. A couple of examples are seemingly healthy, high fibre breakfast cereals and various salad dressings.

Research has also shown that in countries in Africa and Australia, very soon after these foods were introduced; previously unexperienced diseases occurred. These included cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease and an increase in obesity. This was not a coincidence.

It is difficult, but certainly not impossible to wean ourselves off these products. I share a very effective way in chapter 11 of my book ‘Moderation Is Key’.

Be advised to stay away from the well stacked aisles in grocery stores that display overly processed foods. And after safely avoiding temptation here, beware also of all the potato chips (crisps) candies (sweets), cookies (biscuits) etc.,strategically placed by the checkout counters. They are placed there to tempt you and your children as you queue to pay. Quite calculating right?

Another very practical way of avoiding being tempted by these foods is planning our trips to the grocery store and so minimising temptations. Please see my 'Grocery shopping' tip.

There are immediate benefits to be enjoyed from embarking on a healthy lifestyle, one that gravitates away from junk foods towards nutrient dense foods. These include, increased energy levels, reduced mood swings, improved gut health, healthier skin, etc.

Remember always that your body is not your own, but The Lord’s Temple. I discuss this in a previous blog titled 'Being mindful of God as we fuel our bodies'. Let’s endeavour to feed His Temple with predominantly wholesome foods. These have been graciously provided by Him.

Can we say that we truly love God and live life the way we want; including not caring at all about how we fuel our body, His Temple?

How we fuel our body affects our general well-being. We must do all that we can, to stay healthy. We will then, be better able to fulfil our purpose. Our family, friends and sphere of influence are other reasons to want to get and stay well. We have work to do...

Being cautious with overly processed foods is a great step towards getting and staying healthy.

After I greatly minimised the consumption of overly processed foods 30 years ago...I would occasionally have a sensible portion of store bought desserts, processed drinks and savoury snacks. Since researching to write 'Moderation Is Key' I have become even more cautious about consuming these products. The reason being I now understand more just how unhealthy they are. I was also incensed to to learn about the callousness of food giants. They are driven solely by profits and do not care about the effects on their consumers.

I hope that this blog, encourages you to be more circumspect about  consuming these products. They have absolutely no nutritional value and as you now know have the propensity to cause various ailments. The only benefactors of these foods are the manufacturers.

Found this blog informative? My blogs are only teasers of my recently published book...


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