What is Processed Food?
The lhsfna gives a good definition: Processed food is any food that’s altered during preparation to make it more convenient, shelf-stable or flavorful.
Some foods are much more processed than others. A bagged salad or pre-cut green beans technically count as processed, but it’s only minimally processed because its natural state hasn’t changed. In other words, it looks pretty much the same as you’d find it in nature. A box of macaroni and cheese or a microwavable dinner are considered heavily processed (also called ultra-processed) because they’ve been chemically altered with artificial flavors, additives, and other ingredients.
Some items like canned tomatoes are not a concern because the process of canning conserves nutrients and freshness. However, cake mixes, some pasta sauces, or microwavable meals are a concern because they have been heavily processed.
The Effect of Processed Food on Our Health
What is so alarming is that many of us include a lot of processed foods in our diet. For example, in an American diet more than ½ of its calories come from very processed foods. Most ultra-processed foods lack important nutrients. That is why we read on some food packaging “fortified in fiber, iron, vitamin C…”
They are also often too high in sugar, fat and/or sodium, contain a lot of artificial ingredients, have too many calories and are addicting. In addition, these kinds of foods are quicker to digest than unprocessed foods. Therefore, our bodies burn less energy during the digestion process.
All this can lead to very serious health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, or cancer. A five-year study of more than 100,000 people found that every 10% increase in consumption of processed food has been associated with a 12% higher risk for cancer.
The Bible reminds us to spend our money wisely when it comes to food and to eat to God’s glory:
“Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken
diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, And let your soul delight itself in fatness.” – Isaiah 55:2
“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” – 1 Corinthians 10:31
HOW TO REDUCE PROCESSED FOODS IN A DIET?
- Read labels at the supermarket.
- Avoid products having a very long list of ingredients and
ingredients that are hard to pronounce
- Shop the outside aisles. They generally regroup unprocessed food.
- Cook meals at home as much as you can. You can even make your own frozen meals by cooking a big quantity of food and freezing leftovers.
- Make your own salad dressing
- Try to add more fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts to your diet
- Replace bad sugars, bad sodium and bad fats with good ones and consume them with moderation
- Cook your own desserts and sweets
- Eat more simple foods
- If you desire to eat a snack try to eat apples, bananas, dates, and nuts, homemade crackers, or other simple foods.