Processed Foods: How to Limit Consumption

processed foods

Eating too many processed foods is not healthy for your dietary needs. Learn how to limit your consumption.

What are processed foods?

We hear about processed foods all the time but what is processed food really? By definition, processed foods are any food item that has been through a series of mechanical or chemical operations to either change or preserve it.

Processed foods commonly come in boxes or bags and have more than one item on the list of ingredients. Although the majority of processed foods aren’t good for us, not all are bad and trying to avoid them entirely is unrealistic. Here we’re going to discuss processed foods a bit more and talk about what foods to avoid by limiting consumption.

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Did you know…

Processed foods can actually cause you to eat more! A report published in Cell Metabolism looked at calorie consumption between processed foods and unprocessed foods.  Two groups of people participated in a trail were given two specific diets, one processed and one not and they were able to eat as much as they wanted of each diet for two weeks.

On the processed diet, the participants were given Cheerios, whole milk with fiber and a blueberry muffin with margarine for breakfast and the unprocessed diet participants were given a parfait with strawberries, banana, walnuts, salt, olive oil, Greek yogurt and apple slices with lemon juice for breakfast.

Of the two diets in the trail, those who were eating the processed foods not only ate more but also gained more weight. These participants gained on average two pounds during the trail where those who were on the unprocessed diet on average lost two pounds.

Not All Processed Foods Are Bad

There are a group of minimally processed foods out there that can help individuals eat a more nutrient dense diet. Milk and juices can have extra calcium and vitamin D where breakfast cereals can also have added fiber.

Fruits aren’t always available fresh so buying canned fruit is a good back up option as well as pre-cut and pre-washed vegetables and lettuces can be convenient and good for those who are busy. The best way to limit consumption of processed foods is to set a goal to spend more time meal prepping and cooking at home.

Within the meals prepped and cooked at home, there should be a focus on eating meals that consist of whole foods that include vegetables, beans, and whole grains. This doesn’t mean that you can never have processed food, but it is important to understand why it is bad for you.

Try avoiding the foods that have a lot of added sugar, fat and sodium. Up next is our list of foods to avoid, continue reading to see what they are…

What is processed food: Foods to Avoid

Here is our list of processed foods to avoid:

  • Bacon – Bacon is full of sodium as well as saturated fat, and remember, just one piece of bacon accounts for 8-13% of your daily sodium intake
  • Granola Bars – In general, they seem to be healthy but they are also full of extra sugar that digests quickly. They are also full of simple carbs and by eating one you’ll intake at least 11 grams of sugar in just one bar
  • Flavored Nuts – Nuts seems to have a good representation in snacking foods but it depends on the type of nuts. Flavored nuts have extra salt, sugar, and fat
  • Microwave Popcorn – Popcorn is great, the bag is not. These bags have a chemical called perfluoroalkyl which can affect certain bodily functions. Bags of popcorn still have a huge amount of sodium and saturated fat. Try buying corn kernels and pop them on the stove until they pop.

… and the list goes on. Other foods to avoid are dried fruit, fruit snacks, margarine, ketchup, instant ramen, and frozen dinners.  At the end of the day everything in moderation is key but making simple changes or cutting things out of your diet can not only help you feel better but live longer.

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