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Do Processed Foods Cause Us to Overeat… and Contribute to Disease ?

Most of us know that processed foods aren’t good for us… and I would say, it is a difficult habit to break for several reasons. Foods that have been processed are quicker and easier to prepare. They are made with chemical flavor enhancers, many hiding under the term “natural flavors”, which makes them taste delicious and commands our brain to want more. This is sometimes referred to as hyper palatable foods.

Many of the processed foods in our modern diets that damage health are more similar to drugs of abuse than to the natural energy resources people consumed historically.

Researchers at NIH recently found that those consuming a diet of Ultra-processed foods consumed on average of 500 more calories per day than those subjects eating a whole food diet.

Many of us are aware of the most common addictive foods, including pizza, ice cream, cookies, crackers, chips, baked goods and breakfast cereals. Unfortunately these foods are everywhere in the grocery stores and are always on special on an end cap. Remember your grocery store is in business to sell through their products and are NOT at all concerned with your health.

The common denominator is these foods contain processed carbs, fat, sugar, salt, artificial sweeteners and flavor enhancers among many other chemicals and preservatives. Oh and let us not forget the nasty “industrial seed oils” (canola, safflower, soy and corn) Which many doctors are now agreeing are a big contributor to inflammation. Add to this mix the insidious HFCS along with food colorings and you have the perfect cocktail to trigger the pleasure centers of the brain which releases “feel-good” chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.

Where it gets really confusing is food manufactures have learned to use the current health buzzwords on packaging as they know that most of us do not take the time to read the back of the package. So when we see, “All Natural, Organic, Gluten Free, Non GMO along with the most recent addition of low carb and Keto”…we assume it is healthy and simply grab the package and move on to the next food on our list. Big MISTAKE….. One of the most helpful habits you can employ is to put on your reading glasses, (ingredient lists are purposely small and obscure) and look for those ingredients which we know will compromise our family’s health.

We now know that these ingredients can create systemic INFLAMMATION, which then leads to all kinds of issues such as arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, early dementia, mood disorders, Cardiovascular and hypertensive issues just to name a few.

I know and I get it, we have all built our lives and routines around incorporating processed foods in our meal plans and in our numerous daily snacking routines, especially if we have children or grandkids in our homes...and these habits are hard to break.

Here’s a few steps we can take to minimize some of these assaults on our health.

Become a label reader (back of package) especially in creamers, sauces, nut butters, cereals, granola bars, breads and baked goods.

  • Realize that what we put in our mouth has a direct impact on our health

  • Begin with the foods you eat daily or frequently- find better versions, less ingredients, less sugar.

  • Do not fall prey to the term “Natural Flavors”. Manufactures use this as an umbrella to hide additional chemicals

  • If you are not sure about an ingredient, take a picture of back of label and google it. Then decide if you want that in your body, or want your kiddos to eat it

  • Shop mostly on the perimeter of grocery stores

  • If you are eating grains choose organic sprouted grains

Remember food manufactures will produce more of what we buy! Make healthier choices and you will find even more healthier choices to buy in the future.

Take a breath and know that even taking small steps in this direction can make a big difference towards living a healthier lifestyle.

Follow me on Instagram: @maliashealthybite

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