Processed Foods: To Eat or Not to Eat?
I have been following the website, I Quit Sugar, created by Sarah Wilson, which I find to be informative, interesting, and enjoyable to read. On May 12th, she posted an article by Shayl Prisk entitled Sarah and Australia’s leading health experts answer “What Should I Eat?” It discusses some of the problems with processed foods, a topic I have been slowly learning about for the past few years. Sarah’s article inspired me to write this week about the book Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss, which had a big influence on how I currently eat.
I have always tried to eat healthy by eating fruits and vegetables, cutting down on desserts, and reading the number of calories and amount of sugar and fat on the side of food packages. And although I mostly cooked dinners at home, I ate processed foods with a list of chemical names that I could not pronounce. While reading Salt Sugar Fat during this past summer vacation, I realized how bad processed food is and how the food industry has developed foods that make us addicted so we keep buying and eating their foods. Unfortunately, what they are selling is hurting our health and waistlines. The fact that I struggle with digestive issues, made me wonder if the processed foods could be part of my problem.
Once I finished the book and returned from vacation, I decided to change how I eat by starting to buy fruits and vegetables at my local farmer’s market once a week, increasing the number of vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, in my diet, and buying eggs from chickens that are not caged and are fed a natural diet. I also cut the amount of processed meat and meat in general that I eat and increased the number of lunches I brought from home instead of buying at work. Although I still eat processed foods–it is difficult not to in today’s society–I try to limit my intake. If possible, I choose products where the ingredients are real and where there are few or no chemicals included.
The best part of changing my diet is that my stomach feels the best it has in years. I have decreased the bloating (unfortunately, not completely), stomach pains, headaches, and some of the other digestive consequences of fructose malabsorption. Of course, part of my feeling better is due to being on the FODMAP diet, but, there has been an additional improvement due to eating unprocessed foods. Since noticing this change, I have asked the question, if the number of people who suffer from many types of digestive issues (including the general IBS diagnosis most of us get), would decrease if they reduced the amount of processed foods they ate? It might be worth considering.
If you are interested in learning more about Salt Sugar Fat, I have included a New York Times review of the book and a NPR interview with Michael Moss for you to check out. (The interview is 38 minutes so make sure you have the time before you hit play).
Photo found on PEXELS