15 Subtle Signs You’re Eating Too Many Processed Foods
BY COLLEEN DE BELLEFONDS | Eat This, Not That!
Bagel and cream cheese for breakfast, salami on white for lunch, blueberry muffin for a snack, and frozen chicken pot pie for dinner: What’s wrong with this picture? Besides the fact that your calorie count might be too high, all of these foods are highly-processed. Here’s what you need to know about processed foods, including subtle signs that you’re eating too many of them. For more advice on how to change your diet, read up on 20 Weird Reasons Why You’re Gaining Weight Fast.
What Are Processed Foods?
Processed foods are those that have undergone any level of alterations once they’re plucked from nature—commonly freezing, canning, baking, or drying. “It’s food that’s been changed or made a bit different from its natural form,” says nutritionist Torey Armul, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics(AND).
Technically, processing can be as simple as precutting apple slices or washing and bagging salad. “Most foods are processed in some way unless you’re eating out of your garden,” explains Angela Lemond, R.D. and AND spokesperson. In other words, not all processing is bad for you. “For a long time, we’ve been adding iron and minerals to grains and cereals in the U.S., and we’ve been able to reduce a lot of nutrient deficiency and save people’s lives,” she says.
When most of us think of processed foods, however, we’re thinking of highly-processed stuff, like sodas, cookies, and candy, that simply don’t exist in nature and are slapped together in a factory. “Highly-processed foods tend to be made of too many of the wrong ingredients, like white flours, white sugars, and unhealthy fats. And they tend to have additives that increase fat, sodium, and sugar levels to increase shelf life or palatability,” says Armul.