Something your Rochester nutritionist gets asked a lot is “what are the bad foods that I should avoid?” The truth is that there is no “good” or “bad” food when consumed in moderation. A food is only considered “bad” by a lack of understanding of what it can do to your body when consumed in excess.
Some foods are specifically designed to be much easier to overindulge in which makes it more challenging for you to stay on track with your nutritional goals. These are the ultra-processed foods; the foods that have been developed specifically for you to enjoy and buy as much as possible. Let’s take a look at what happens when your diet is entirely made up of these foods, why this option is so common, and what you can do to minimize their consumption.
What happens if I only eat processed foods?
A recent study looked into whether or not ultra-processed foods cause excessive caloric intake and weight gain. In the study, individuals were broken up into two different groups. Both groups were allowed to consume as much food as they wanted. Group A was restricted to processed foods and Group B was restricted to unprocessed foods. At the end of the study, they determined that individuals in Group A (processed food) consumed on average 500 more calories per day than Group B (unprocessed food). They found that these calories were specifically from carbohydrates and fats. Additionally, the study found individuals in Group A (processed food) gained weight while Group B (unprocessed food) lost weight.
What is it about these foods that make them so problematic towards our nutritional goals? Most processed foods don’t contain the nutrients that produce the feeling of fullness. In fact, refined sugars found in many processed foods have been shown to increase the hormone ghrelin which inhibits the brain's ability to feel full; meaning even though you’ve eaten your fill, the body doesn’t know that it’s full! Due to this, it is much easier to overeat these foods to the point of caloric excess - leading to weight gain.
Something else to consider is the price of processed foods. On average, the price of healthier food options increases food costs by about $550 a year per person. In low-income households, it can be much more cost-effective to sacrifice the healthier foods and spend money on the cheaper options. Processed foods are also more convenient - it’s easy to throw something in the microwave or snack on a bag of chips.
How can I start eating less processed foods?
Transitioning from ultra-processed to unprocessed foods can be a difficult process, but not impossible. The first lesson most people learn with unprocessed foods is they will not last on the shelf as long. To prevent waste, begin by buying smaller amounts of unprocessed foods to ensure you don’t waste any. If you need more you can adjust the amount you buy next time. For processed foods, try to save them for special moments with friends or family instead of a staple in your diet. If they are in your house, keep them in hard-to-reach places. Also, instead of grabbing straight from the bag, try measuring them out by serving size to prevent overeating.
It is important that you enjoy your favorite foods from time to time guilt-free. Understanding why these foods can’t be eaten every day is how we begin making better nutritional choices. If you are interested in learning more about nutrition feel free to ask your chiropractor in Rochester. Here at Rush-Henrietta Family Chiropractic, your Rochester nutritionist is well trained in nutrition and can help you make better food choices to reach any of your health goals. If you want to go more in-depth with nutrition, schedule a free nutrition consultation today.