Even physicians are capable of giving the nutritional advise of decreasing processed food. Of course that is about as generic as exercise more and eat healthy. How about the words on a cereal box. “Part of a complete breakfast” And now we have ultra processed which is processed to the nth degree.
Where do we draw the line at processed? I refer to processing my mangos as peeling and slicing to place in the freezer. Would ultra processed be blended into a smoothie or worse yet, baked in a pie? As we “process” we start to make the original food smaller and more calorie dense. We also start to combine it with other ingredients to make something different which results in a name change. Beef ground into a Burger. Animal parts squeezed together to make a hotdog. Fruit blended with sugar and oil to make a pie. The Heart and Stroke foundation states that processed foods contain oil, sugar, or salt, and they are packaged. These include bread, cheese, tofu, and canned tuna. A food is ultra processed when it is milled, molded, and contains multiple added ingredients most of which you cannot pronounce, but resembles words from organic chemistry. However, the Heart and Stroke Foundation considers meat, eggs and milk unprocessed????? If taking the fur off, gutting and deboning the animal is not progressing, then I am confused as well. Except for Rocky, most cook the egg along with butter, salt, and perhaps cheese. I will give you the boiled egg as minimally processed.
The big excitement has been over Beyond beef, Beyond eggs and the about to be Beyond chicken hitting the market. These are close impersonations of the real animal product in appearance, taste, and health risk. They are not ultra-processed foods but ultra created foods. They take plant proteins such as those isolated from peas and mung beans. They add ingredients such as canola oil, refined coconut oil, rice protein, cocoa butter, natural flavors, methylcellulose, potato starch, apple extract, salt, potassium chloride, vinegar and spices to make a product that has a taste and texture like the original animal product. Are we really seaking a product that is exactly like the one that caused us harm? Perhaps the fast food of today is closer to an imposter than it was 20 years ago. I have heard there were 37 ingredients in a chicken nugget. Perhaps, the joke is again on the public. The original animal product is diluted so much in the processing that the new faux animal product tastes the same because it almost is the same.
Many say they have no time to prepare and consume real food. It must be portable, quick, and convenient. The food all tastes of oil, salt and a special sauce. Why do we go out of our way for food that we have no idea how it was processed? What kind of machine is needed to make a hot dog or a filet of fish? How are the additives packaged? Is the machine cleaned, or are the additives sterilizing to any living bug that might have tried to inhabit the product?
Perhaps we should change the question. How will this product add to my health and wellness? Will I live better because of it? How does it help me. We focus on our need to be satsfied and fear nutritional deficiencies when in reality, the majority of lifestyle diseases are from nutritional excesses. I have yet to see a case of rickets or scurvy in my practice. I have not had an iron deficient vegan patient because of the lack of iron.
We need to eat whole foods. Not too much. Not too often. Focus on replenishing energy needs in proportion to the energy that is used. That does not mean that it should be bland or not taste good. It does not mean that mealtime should not be fun and enjoyable. In fact, it should be one of the most coveted times of the day that allows a pause from external stimuli long enough to be grateful for those around you, and the abundance of food that is available to us each day.