When you hear the word “PROCESSED,” what jumps to your mind?
Do you think all processed foods are created equal and therefore, equally bad? What does processed even mean?
- PROCESSED is a term that is given to a food that has, in some shape or form been handled before reaching the consumer. This can be in the form of ..
Because we as consumers buy most (if not all) of our food from the grocery store, the food we buy is (mostly) always processed. If you think you disagree with this statement think about this, the unprocessed form of some foods are never seen in a general grocery store such as raw milk, raw cheese, wine without the aged sulfites etc. In some way, the food we eat has been handled through the chain of command until it lands in your shopping basket ready for the check out line and into your refrigerator.
However, there is a difference between lightly processing (pasteurizing milk, drying fruit, cooking carrots) and heavily processing (packaged foods, added colors and flavors, refined flours).
- HEAVILY PROCESSED is the cause of the “fuss” I am talking about. You know, the center aisles of the grocery store stocked high with boxes, cans, and packages of shelf stable foods.
- Most heavily processed foods have diminished nutritional value, added calories from fat and or sugar, added preservatives/colors/flavors all wrapped up in extra salt to disguise the loss of taste.
Take A Dive Into The Processed World
Take a look at the difference between Whole Wheat Flour, White Flour, and Enriched White Flour.
As you can see, the whole wheat flour is lower in calories and higher in protein, fiber, calcium, and vitamin B6. Only the enriched white flour has more iron and folic acid due to the process of adding it back in through enrichment. The enriched white flour still has more calories and less fiber and protein! Next time you’re in the grocery store pondering over what bread to buy or what flour to use, think of this chart.
- WHY? When flour goes through the MILLING process, the wheat seeds are ground down to a fine powder that ultimately gives us Whole Wheat Flour. Nothing is taken out or added to it. This is lightly processed flour. However, when the flour goes through the REFINING process, the wheat is ground down and the chaff and wheat germ are taken out. The chaff is where the nutrients are located (the protective coat and bran, if you will). Because the nutrients are taken out, most flours we see in the grocery store are required to be ENRICHED (meaning supplied back) with nutrients of niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, iron, and folic acid. This is heavily processed flour.
Incorporating A Healthier Chew
Incorporating a healthier chew does not mean changing everything about your lifestyle diet. I am not telling you to cross out every processed food on your grocery list, but rather, simplify it! Here are a few tips for you if you are interested in cutting out a few processed foods.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store
- This is where the most natural forms of food are found. Everything from produce, to meats, to cheese, to water, to milk/eggs/yogurt, to frozen fruit and vegetables.
- Stray away from your junk food cravings
- This is because the more you fill your body with the processed foods or “Junk Foods,” the more your body wants it. The quantity of sugar that these processed foods contain cause our bodies to become addicted to it. Just like nicotine, the concept of addiction can become very scary in a short amount of time. Have a craving for something sweet- try something else like frozen fruit, pure dark cacao, honey and yogurt, anything but the junk food.
- Try using Whole Wheat Flour in your baking/cooking instead of white refined flour.
- Whole wheat flour can be more dense and some recipes may need to be modified. I also recommend using half whole wheat and half AP flour so your recipes don’t dry out too much.
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