Welcome to Day Two
5 Steps to Mindful Eating!
Please watch the video.
Script: What are “Processed Foods”?
According to the Department of Agriculture, processed foods are any raw agricultural commodities that have been washed, cleaned, milled, cut, chopped, heated, pasteurized, blanched, cooked, canned, frozen, dried, dehydrated, mixed or packaged — and this includes anything done to them that alters their natural state. The term “processed” also may involve adding preservatives, flavors, nutrients, and other food additives or substances approved for use in food products, such as salt, sugars, and fats. So, that’s broad. And by that definition, many food items are processed, even carrots, if they are only washed and eaten raw. It’s reasonable to think that it’s best to go with minimally processed foods and avoid highly processed items. But to further define what that means, Here’s how the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ranks processed foods from minimally to mostly processed: This is in order of best to worst and numbers 1 to 5.
- Minimally processed foods, such as fresh blueberries, cut vegetables, and roasted nuts, are simply prepped for convenience.
- Foods processed at their peak to lock in nutritional quality and freshness include canned tomatoes or tuna and frozen fruit or vegetables.
- Foods with ingredients added for flavor and texture, such as sweeteners, spices, oils, colors, and preservatives, include jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, yogurt, and cake mixes.
- Ready-to-eat foods, such as crackers, chips, and deli meat, are more heavily processed.
- The most heavily processed foods are often frozen or pre-made, including frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners.
Minimally processed foods have a place in healthy diets. For example, milk and dairy products, whole-grain breads, and even precut vegetables are considered minimally processed.
When buying a product, It’s important to ignore the prominent product claims like “organic” or “healthy” and go straight to the nutritional label to determine if you want to buy and eat a product. Whole Grain Honey Bunches of Oats sounds like it’s healthy, but it’s actually made with high quantities of corn syrup (not honey) and fat.
What you’re looking for is hidden sugar, fat, and salt, especially those added during processing. Most Nutrition Facts labels now include added sugars as a special line item. And the government set Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends getting less than 10% of total calories from added sugars. Words like “dextrose,” “maltose,” “corn syrup,” “honey,” “molasses,” “high-fructose corn syrup, and “fruit juice concentrate” are all added sugars. Many health care professionals consider transfat to be the worst type of fat. Unlike other dietary fats, trans fat — also called trans-fatty acids — raises your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad) cholesterol and lowers your high-density lipoprotein (HDL or good) cholesterol. Here’s a fun fact: manufacturers can claim a product has zero grams of trans fat if a product has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat. So, in buying some processed foods, you could be getting them into your diet because manufacturers aren’t obligated to tell you. Manufacturers are adding salt for you, too — and it’s way too much. The Dietary Guidelines recommend less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. So look for low- or reduced-sodium foods. The question is then: “Why add sugar, fat, and salt to food in high quantities if it’s obviously unhealthy for the consumer. Well, it’s important to remember that food manufacturers aren’t cooks – they’re business people and food scientists. Their job is to figure out how to make food cheap and sell a lot of it. Adding high quantities of at least one of the three – sugar, fat, and salt- triggers brain receptors for high dopamine releases ( similar to what happens if you take drugs), making you eat more of their product and therefore buy more. That trick is at the core of obesity in America. Salt and sugar have preservative qualities, that’s another reason for high quantities, but added preservatives, in general, are also there to increase the shelf life of a product. That has nothing to do with the manufacturer caring about how long it lasts in your refrigerator or on your shelf; it has to do with how long it can sit in a warehouse, or on a truck, or on a shelf in a grocery store. The longer they have to sell a product – in other words, it could sit in a warehouse for a year and a half before it’s even sold to be sold -the better chance they have of making more money. Side note on that: Grocery stores want you to buy their oldest product – which of course, means you have less time to use it. The stores always put their oldest product in front, so it’s easy for you to pick it up. Check dates and pull from the back of the shelf or rack to get the newest products. This is especially critical for perishable items like milk and bagged spinach, but even if it doesn’t have a date, that is how they display everything. I have seen as much as a two-week range in dates from the milk in the front of the milk cooler to milk in the back. You have to do some digging in places like Costco, but it’s worth it. Now, shopping this way will not make your grocer happy, but it’s the right thing to do for you.
To sum all of this up, One of the most critical moves you can make for your health is to eat primarily unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Thanks for watching and listening.
Challenge materials are derived from the
Mindful Mediterranean program.
Here’s what participants say:
I have been gradually, but steadily, losing weight while I’m eating better than I ever have in my life.
Over the years, try as I may, I just couldn’t get in a healthy groove with my diet and exercise, no matter what plan I tried. That’s why I can tell you – this Mediterranean diet “how-to” really works.