How Processed & Packaged Foods May Be Ruining Your Health
Currently, our lives are on the go. When we’re hungry, we grab a bag of something pre-made or buy food from a package. This is the norm and we have so much “convenience” food to show from it ranging from pre-made sandwiches to energy bars and more. I don’t know any mom who steers completely clear of the packaged food items. Let’s be real. But do these packaged food items have some downfalls? Absolutely. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the pros & cons of packaged processed foods.
Pros to packaged processed foods:
- Convenience: simple, easy to transport, easy to buy almost anywhere
- Taste: most packaged foods have sugar and/or sodium to assist with preservation (that’s why the food lasts so long in that bag) – who doesn’t love these 2 ingredients?
- Whole Foods: Yes, you can find whole foods that have been processed and packaged. Plain Greek Yogurt is a whole food with no extra preservatives that you find in a package. Many cheese items and dried fruit can be found in packages that do not contain extra ingredients or extra preservatives. But be careful of some cheeses that may have high sodium content for preservation.
When I truly think of packaged processed foods, I’m thinking of snack-type foods like chips, cookies, crackers, 100-calorie snack packs, bars, and more.
Here’s the Cons to those packaged, processed foods:
- Low Nutritional Value: many of these foods do not contain any vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants. Nor do the foods contain important proteins and amino acids beneficial for health.
- Increased Calories without the Satisfaction: The foods do contain calories (even those 100-calorie snack packs), but the calories are “empty” meaning the foods will not fill you up due to the lack of nutritional value. So you end up still being hungry and needing to eat more.
- Inflammation: Many processed foods have preservatives and additives for flavoring and shelf-life. These chemicals can cause inflammation in the body which can lead to future clogging of your system from heart problems to pain problems. High amounts of internal inflammation is never good.
So bottom line is this: try to reduce the amount of package and processed foods in your diet and your child’s diet. Alternatives to these convenient foods for snacks-on-the-go can be fresh fruit, fresh veggies, plain yogurt, and nuts.
By Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN
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