Studies from the National Institutes of Health haven proven that heavily processed foods cause overeating and weight gain.
Yes, processed foods are fast and easy; just open, microwave, and eat. But this comes at a price. All the additives, like sugars, sodium, artificial dyes, and flavorings cancel out any benefits for a healthy body. Research has found you can easily eat 500 more calories per meal than people eating a more natural, less processed diet.
You need a balance of about 60 to 70% unprocessed foods to stay healthy and maintain a good weight. The less processed food the better; you need foods in their more natural state to keep nutrients intact and beneficial to your health. Keep these eight items off your grocery list to help you achieve that goal.
8. Sugary Soft Drinks
Avoid soft drinks, sodas, and colas with high fructose sugars. This includes even diet sodas, since fake sugars act like real sugar in our bodies. You will be surprised how quickly naturally flavored water, no sugar added drinks, or unsweetened tea will affect your weight. Decrease your soft drink intake until you only drink it occasionally.
7. Margarine and Oleo
High-fat diets with hydrogenated oils increase the risk of disease. These oils are used in the manufacturing of ultra-processed and prepackaged foods. It is better to use healthier fats like olive oil, butter, ghee, or coconut oil when eating or preparing foods at home.
6. Packaged Bread
Many people are used to making sandwiches with white bread, as they are quick and easy to eat. A more nutritious choice would be a sandwich on whole wheat bread with an egg, real turkey or tuna, and no high sodium deli meat, with lettuce and a slice of tomato for extra nutrition. This might take some planning, but try eating this way at least three or four days per week.
5. Colorful Cereals
Fruit Loops have very little real fruit, but sure have enough sugars and additives to be considered ultra-processed. No real food here!
If you are used to eating these cereals, you will find that making a change will help you lose weight faster. Try oatmeal or muesli that has no processed sugars and very few additives. You will find that after trying it a few times, it becomes tastier. Add some fresh fruit or nuts on top to make it taste even better.
4. Prepackaged Burgers and Chicken Nuggets
Whether frozen or picked up at a fast food drive-thru, these so-called sandwiches are just greasy, substandard protein and an easy way to drive and eat at the same time. If you want to get healthier and decrease your risk of diseases, it might be better to order a bowl of chili.
An even better option is to prepare your lunch the evening before. Try a blend of canned beans, rice or quinoa, and a protein; this can be served cold or heated in a microwave. Or try healthy peanut butter or almond butter with no additives or sugars. Again, just try this for three or four days per week.Related: 11 Great Benefits of Giving Up Processed Foods
3. Instant Soup Packages for Work and School
Many of these instant microwaved soups are filled with noodles, additives for flavors, sugar, MSG, salt, and very few veggies. It would be better to find a soup or a frozen dish that has better quality ingredients and fewer additives. Or something like a healthy jerky with no additives, which also gives you a good protein boost.
2. Sweetened and Flavored Yogurts
Yogurt is normally good for you, but many of these are high in calories and processed sugars. Here you need to look at the ingredients and eat those with no sugar added and fruit only; this decreases the calories. Yogurt is a good protein and a beneficial food for your gut.
1. Desserts, Cakes, and Cookies
Yes, they are so good, but not for every day. They taste good because the high fat and sugar creates a flavor that our body just loves.
Cut back to maybe once or twice a week, or only for a special occasion. Recently, there have been many keto-friendly desserts advertised as healthy, and generally these are made with better fats and few sugars or carbs.Related: 13 Dangerous Foods You Should Avoid