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Sunday School: Why You Should Cut Out Processed Foods

processed foods

Here are the reasons why my family cut processed foods…and why YOU should too.

We are all just parents…people trying to find our way.  Heck, many of us are just trying to make it through the day.  Many households require two working adults and revolve around hectic work, school, extra-curricular, and church activities.  Just getting everyone fed is a major event.  Grocery shopping is a major undertaking – and there never seems like there is enough time to GO grocery shopping {whose fridge is bare?}.

That’s why major food corporation are BIG business now.  They saw a problem {people with no time to prepare food} and they solved it…or so it appeared.  The grocery store is literally filled with THOUSANDS of food-like products.  These processed foods shout at you that they are “healthy,” “low carb,” “low fat,” “high in fiber,” and many more by the claims that are on the front of their packaging.  Not only that, they also have the approval of major organizations like the American Heart Association – it says so on that emblem on the cover of their box.  Processed foods come with other healthy claims like “fortified with vitamins,” “contains Omega-3’s,” and “no trans fat,” that give you the illusion that you are purchasing something superior.

But, like any good friend who wants you to live a long and fulfilling life, I want you to know you should not listen to their claims.  Ignore the glaring red lettering on the covers of their pretty packaging.  Nothing trumps real food.  Real foods – foods that are wholesome, naturally “high in fiber,” or naturally “containing Omega 3’s,” or by the very nature of what they are, they are high in REAL vitamins and minerals – not man made ones.

What Does “Processed” Mean?

Processed means any food changed from its natural/raw state.  That is almost everything we eat. When you cook, chop, freeze, dry, or ferment your foods you are processing them.  So, by that definition, not all processed foods are bad.

In fact, even our ancient ancestors “processed” their foods by slaughtering, fermenting, sun drying, preserving with salt, and using various types of cooking.  There is nothing wrong with using these, and other methods of home preserving your food.

The problem is when big business starts adding stuff to our food that isn’t food at all.  Most of these products lie within the inner aisles of the grocery store.  They have long ingredient lists that require an advanced degree in chemistry to define and understand. They scream convenience.  Its the chicken nuggets, boxed macaroni and cheese, hamburger helper, ravioli, frozen lasagna, corndog, can of soda, and box of cereal, for example.


Why it Matters.

    1. Coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer – four of the top ten chronic diseases that kill most of us – “can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food” according to Michael Pollan.
    2. If you’ll make smarter, deliberate choices about your food TODAY, your health will be better TOMORROW.  Even when it means paying more for my food, I consider it an investment in my health.  Making good food choices today means I’ll be avoiding high health care costs later.
    3. Processed foods are highly addictive. Lay’s was right on with their slogan, “Betcha can’t eat just one.”  Processed foods tend to overstimulate the production of dopamine, also known as the “pleasure” neurotransmitter, which makes you crave them constantly. Your body ends up not being able to resist the temptation to continue eating junk foods in excess, which can lead to obesity and other health problems. {Credit Natural News}
    4. Processed foods contain excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and bad fats.  Mayo Clinic Nutritionist, Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., cautions that consumption of processed foods contribute “as much as 75 percent of the sodium in the typical American diet.” Too much sodium can lead to serious consequences such as high blood pressure. {Credit Livestrong.com}
    5. If you suffer from chronic bouts of brain “fog,” or have difficulty concentrating and thinking normally, chances are your diet has something to do with it. And a recent study out of Oxford University lends credence to this possibility, having found that junk food consumption can cause people to become angry and irritable. Nutrient-dense whole foods, on the other hand, can help level out your mood, sustain your energy levels, and leave you feeling calmer and more collected. {Credit Natural News}
    6. Processed foods are loaded with pesticides. In order to effectively grow the GMOs used in processed foods, conventional farmers have to apply Roundup (glyphosate) and other pesticides and herbicides, many of which end up in the final product. According to data compiled by Rodale, breakfast cereals alone have been found to contain up to 70 different types of pesticides, including warehouse fumigation chemicals and other residues. {Credit Natural News}.
    7. When you eat white bread and other foods made with white flour (which is a highly processed version of wheat) you are basically consuming empty calories with far less nutrition than the whole-wheat or whole grain alternatives.  Empty calories cause you to feel slow, weak, tired and cranky. {Credit: 100 Days of Real Food}
    8. It is estimated that up to 90% of processed foods in the supermarket contain either a corn or soy ingredient in the form of an additive under a variety of different names.  Corn and Soy are two of the four biggest GMO crops. {Credit GMO compass}.  Here are some of the names that mean “corn” or “soy” in your food:
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Baking powder
  • Citrates (magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium)
  • Caramel
  • Corn meal
  • Corn starch
  • Dextrin, maltodextrin
  • Ethanol
  •  “Flavoring”
  • Dextrose
  • Lactic Acid
  • Iodized Salt
  • Saccharine (Sweet’N Low)
  • Malt
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Soy lecithin
  • Soybean oil
  • Soy flour
  • Soy protein
  • Sorbitol (in items labeled “sugar free”)
  • Starch
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vitamins (contains corn derivatives)
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegetable gum
  • Xanthan Gum (in gluten-free foods)
  • Xylitol (in items labeled “sugar free”)
  • Zein (in medication)

 And that isn’t even all of them!  How’s that for variety? {Credit Politilady}

But Cutting Out Processed Foods Means Losing my Convenience, Right?

Real food doesn’t have to take all day OR all night to prepare.  You can be a busy, working family and still eat real, wholesome food.

One easy way to limit the amount of processed foods you pick up are to avoid going down the aisles of the grocery store.  Nearly everything you need to make a balanced meal exists on the outer edges – this even goes for Whole Food stores.  The few things you should be picking up on the aisles should be short ingredient list foods or staples such as dried beans, pasta, canned tomatoes, nut butters, and canned tuna.

Miss your favorite processed foods?  Make them yourself.  Chances are if you have to bake your own cookies, you’ll have them a lot less.  And, most of us could stand to eat a bit less junk food. Am I right?  Other processed foods gone bad by big food corporations that you can make totally healthy are chicken nuggets, hamburger helper, pizza, and pudding.  My family still enjoys french fries!  I just cut the potatoes and fry them myself in coconut oil.  We don’t have them often, but when we do, they sure beat any we can find at a local fast food joint.  Many of these “convenience foods” aren’t difficult to make yourself and take either the same amount of time with a little know how – or only a bit longer.

As for “processing” your own foods…I encourage you to learn about and experiment with processes such as fermentation, freezing, dehydrating, and canning yourself.  Of course, that is for an entirely different post. :)

Will you have moments where you just need to hit a drive thru?  Absolutely.  But hopefully, after educating yourself about the reasons why you should kick the processed foods, those moments of just needing a boxed meal will be fewer for you.  I hope you will see recipes on this blog that will help you overcome any remaining fears about cooking a meal from scratch and that you will realize it can be done in 30 minutes or less.

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  1. What about snacks? My family is a big bunch of snackers. Goldfish, wheat thins, triscuits…. tortilla chips? What are some altrnatives?

    • Lori Morgan says:

      You can find organic Tortilla Chips. I am from Texas and just have to have them. Some triscuits are considered whole foods too. The short rule of thumb is that it should have more than 5 ingredients. Other good snacks are popcorn-made in a pan at home and nuts or homemade trail mix with nuts and raisins. Also, I have found that if I actually take the time to cut up a big container of mixed fruit, my family will choose to eat that over almost anything else in the house.

  2. Do you have an Alfredo sauce receipe that you like to use?

  3. Loving your website!! This is what I use to replace french fries: cut unpeeled potatoes (thoroughly washed), spray them with olive oil, sprinkle some salt and oregano, mix everything with your hands (potatoes should be mildly covered in oil but there should not be a pool of oil as in traditional french fries). Cook in the oven until crispy.
    Is this OK ? they are delicious my concern is heating the olive oil..

  4. Processed Foods have preservatives, so it’s so dangerous for people.

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