How Processed & Packaged Foods May Be Ruining Your Health


Blog, Healthy Family, Sustainable/Local, Weight Loss Tips
  • By Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN on
  • November 28th, 2012

 

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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21 responses to “How Processed & Packaged Foods May Be Ruining Your Health”

  1. Phil says:

    We’ve noticed that some fruits and vegetables are processed for snacking but these products may contain hidden sugars, salt or even sulfites. You’re right in recommending fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks. Thanks.

    • Sarah Koszyk MA RD says:

      So true, Phil! It’s amazing how one can buy dried fruit and it’s not just fruit. So wise to read labels. Thanks for sharing!

      • Eljas says:

        What you can and can’t eat when pregnant does seem cosifnung to start with but if you follow a few simple rules it should become clear. • Cheese soft mould-ripened or blue cheese should be avoided, i.e. cheese that has a blue vein in it or the type of skin or crust that is found on cheese such as Brie or Camembert. Unpasteurised soft cheeses, such as those made from sheep and goat’s milk are also best avoided. • Eggs you only need to avoid raw or undercooked eggs. • All salad dressings that you buy in supermarkets, such as mayonnaise, will have been made using pasteurised egg and are therefore quite safe. Cook eggs until the yolk and white are not runny any more. Be careful about eating home-made products such as chocolate mousse and fresh mayonnaise in delis which may contain raw egg. • Other dairy products unpasteurised milk and dairy products made with unpasteurised milk are best avoided as they are more likely to carry bacteria that could give you food poisoning. • Pate9 all pate9 should be avoided, whether made from meat, fish or vegetables. • Meat and meat products it’s fine to eat meat, but make sure it is cooked thoroughly and there are no pink or red bits and that the juices run clear, especially if it’s cooked on a barbecue, or as part of a ready meal. Cured meat products, such as Parma ham and salami, also carry a risk and are best avoided. • Oily fish is good for you and your baby but it can contain environmental pollutants. Have no more than two portions of oily fish a week such as mackerel, sardines and trout so you get all the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but also cut the risk from the pollutants. Limit tuna to no more than two tuna steaks a week or four medium-size cans of tuna a week. Avoid shark, swordfish and marlin altogether because of the high levels of mercury in these fish, which could harm your baby’s developing nervous system. • Finally, when you’re handling or preparing food, make sure you follow strict food hygiene guidelines such as washing your hands, keeping utensils and surfaces clean, using separate utensils for raw meat from those being used for ready-to-eat food, and following cooking and storage instructions carefully. Was this answer helpful?

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