Why Cut Processed Food

  1. Processed foods are an illusion, often appearing to be healthy (with claims like low fat, low carb, vitamin fortified, no trans fat, contains omega-3s, etc.) when these foods are in fact the very thing making a lot of Americans unhealthy, sick, and fat.
  2. Coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer – four of the top ten chronic diseases that kill most of us – “can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food” according to Michael Pollan.
  3. Making smarter (and sometimes more expensive) food choices now may reduce your healthcare costs later in life.
  4. Why would one want to eat a processed food-like substance that is scientifically designed to never rot?
  5. The food industry has proven that it is not very good at seasoning our foods by adding way too much salt, sugar, and/or oil to almost everything.
  6. When you eat white bread and other foods made with white flour (which is a highly processed version of wheat) you are basically consuming empty calories with far less nutrition than the whole-wheat or whole grain alternatives.
  7. It is estimated that up to 90% of processed foods* in the supermarket contain either a corn or soy ingredient in the form of an additive under a variety of different names. Now how is that for eating variety?
  8. Cutting out processed foods could lead you to experience a variety of personal health benefits such as having more energy, losing weight, improving regularity, or just feeling healthier overall.
  9. Rather than counting calories, watching fat grams, or reducing carbs for “healthy eating,” simply eat whole foods that, as Michael Pollan puts it, are more the product of nature than “the product of industry.” It certainly is less complicated.
  10. It just makes plain old sense to fully understand what you are eating, be able to pronounce everything on the list of ingredients (if there is a list), and know exactly where that food comes from…don’t you think?

*Statistic courtesy of a food scientist interviewed on the documentary “Food, Inc”

460 thoughts on “Why Cut Processed Food”

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  1. wonderful it means cut processed food if we can eat on the limit doesn’t affect if have blood pressure or sugar or big stomachic.

  2. Really industrialized foods are poison for our bodies. I’m sorry that the big companies are not sensitive to this, because for them the important thing is to make money, even if the population dies because of the food they eat.

  3. Hi ,
    I really like this blog and learning about true clean eating. My questions surround shopping list samples/ideas and just basic food ideas.
    I do a pretty good job of sticking to the outside areas of grocery stores, but I’d still like to do more.
    I gained 9 lbs last year and trying to lose it and get healthier overall. I stopped eating the packages bread and was eating sprouted/Ezeki type ones, but grew tired of that and went back to whole wheat packaged bread.
    Thx for any advice

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Mari. I’d be happy to answer specific questions. Not really sure what you are asking. :)

  4. I love the site! So helpful and we are on our way to a healthier lifestyle. It’s day 30. Woo-hoo! I had a question. Some research and sites I am reading are categorizing whole wheat as a processed food and toxin. What’s the story there? I see that it’s allowed on 100 days and am using it all the time to make pancakes, muffins, etc. I also have Esekial bread with my eggs, etc. I am confused so figured I would ask the expert. See the exerpt below which is what I am referring to.

    from Natural news:If you are a regular Natural News reader, then you are likely already aware of some of the major processed food ingredients and additives that are harmful to health. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), refined sugar, wheat flour, natural and artificial flavorings, etc. just a few of the many toxins commonly added to processed foods that you will want to avoid.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Mag. If you are concerned about wheat, you might want to consider using sprouted wheat flour which is easier to digest. Lisa’s family has shown no sensitivity to wheat or other glutens so whole wheat flour is a common ingredient in her recipes.

      1. Thanks! I don’t have sensitivity to wheat or gluten either. I just saw recent things here and there bad mouthing wheat. Ha!

  5. Make chicken stock in your crock pot:
    1 Chicken carcass – great use for bones after you’ve eaten a roasted chicken
    2 C coarsely chopped onion – or just get an onion and cut into 8 wedges
    1 C coarsely chopped carrots – or just get a carrot and chop into 8 pieces
    1 C coarsely chopped celery – or just chop into 8 pieces
    3 cloves garlic – smashed
    4 bay leaves
    1 t whole black peppercorns
    2 t sea salt – adjust to taste
    1 t dried thyme – or use a sprig of fresh
    1/2 t dried rosemary – or use a sprig of fresh
    1/2 t dried oregano- or use a sprig of fresh
    Put all ingredients in crock pot.
    Cover with water.
    Cook on low overnight. Your house will smell so yummy in the morning.
    Cool. – Freeze some in ice cube tray so you’ll have small amounts handy.

  6. What steps can I take to cut out refined sugar? Cold turkey or gradual weaning? What do I use as a replacement is recipes? Do I cut out all types of sugar or just white sugar? I welcome all the tips and ideas you have ! Thanks

    1. Heather, I just recently started a journey to remove sugar from my diet and eat whole foods. Read a lot of articles online and done a lot of research. It’s amazing how all of the processed foods along with sugar have such detrimental health effects on all of us. From what I have read the only suggested sugars are maple syrup, honey and I found palmyra jaggery but it is expensive and not very cost prohibitive for my morning coffee which is where I miss the sugar the most. The journey has been difficult at best and at least once a day, typically in the evening I find that I typically fall off the wagon. But I still keep getting back on and trying again the next day. I have read both ways to stop sugar, cold turkey and gradual using natural alternatives, I suspect which ever works best for you would be the best option. Good luck on your sugar free journey.

    2. Go cold turkey! The funny thing is once you get it out of your system you will not crave it or seek it out. Cold turkey is quickest. Otherwise you will dabble in it and be on sugar for weeks before you really switch. This way after about four days – you’re done! It’s great. I used to have a huge sweet tooth. I would pick at the brownies, eat cake at parties, etc. I don’t miss it at all and my energy levels are much more stable. No 4 oclock lulls. Good Luck! Oh and I do use honey in my pumpkin muffins and on my yogurt and it’s basically the same satiating taste.

  7. An abundance of specific food intolerances is actually unlikely. If you are experiencing digestive problems with a range of foods, it’s likely an undiagnosed systemic problem. I have had two friends who were diagnosed with chronic appendicitis – which is not the most common digestive ailment, but if celiac and Crone’s disease are ruled out, please get tested! One of my friends had two years of digestive problems, and she blamed it on a plethora of foods, until her chronic appendicitis became acute, and she had to have an emergency appendectomy! Now she is back to eating all the the things she once ate.

  8. I am wondering if I was to make my own bread, which is the best type of flour to use as I have been diagnosed with diverticulitis

  9. Zena, if you have not already done so, you might consider being tested for Celiac disease. Make sure they run ALL antibodies in the test. Many doctors leave one out of the test, considering it “statistically insignificant” but a few Celiacs will be incorrectly diagnosed as a result. With the symptoms you describe, it’s worth eliminating that as a possibility. Hope you feel better soon.

  10. Zena,
    You may want to explore food intolerances. Intolerances don’t show well on allergy tests. I’m not 100% real food yet, but am moving that direction because of food intolerances. My dietary transformation started out as a byproduct of weeding out things in my diet, one by one, that were affecting me. No soda, then no sugar substitutes, etc, etc, till I found soy was my personal nemesis. When I finally looked at the overall of the things I had weeded out that helped me, they all fell into processed foods! Soy is in practically everything processed.
    I haven’t had the skin issues you have, but I’ve read that intolerances can cause those too. Best part is when I finally figured it out, I was able to focus on what I could eat and I don’t feel deprived anymore.
    All the best in your journey to real food, Denise.

  11. I just recently cut out all sugar from my family’s diet (only using honey, agave & maple syrup), buy organic whenever possible and cut our meat/dairy consumption in half. Its been a month now, and things are going pretty good :) I just found your website here today, and want to say thank you for compliling such a great resource of recipes! I just tried your tortillas tonight and they were yummy.
    Thank you!

  12. Hi, I just found this blog. I have been suffering on a daily basis for the past 4 years from all sorts of allergic reactions. It seems like I’m allergic to everything I eat yet the tests for food allergies appear to be negative. I’ve also had eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, body odor, as well as sudden severe cystic acne.
    I truly beleive most skin conditions I have are from a bad diet(alot of sugars, processed foods and dairy)
    I would like to switch to a natural diet with zero processed foods but I feel soooo hungry. How do I replace bread & pasta? How do I replace tomato paste or Chicken stalk?
    Are canned foods and jarred foods safe??

      1. I know several months later, but me and the Mrs use spaghetti squash to sub for, well, spaghetti..
        Jarred food are safe, but nutritionally, alot of them are just plain crap in a can

    1. I have found that I do not have to replace bread and pasta or even dairy. Just get it in its most natural form. I bought a Komo grain miller from Pleasanthilgrain.com. I now mill MY OWN FLOUR from 100% organic whole hard winter wheat (they also sell tons of organic wheat and spelt and rye and whatever other grain your heart desires (no pun intended).

      We’ve lost the art of REAL cooking. Most recipes use short cuts and say things like ” 1 bouillon cube” ……heres an idea….. OR………just boil chicken (on the bone to get the cellulose) Go back to basics! It takes time and at first your devoid of energy because of eating the empty calories. Push through it and you’ll see you have energy you thought only possible with a cup of esspresso and it will amaze you.

      My staple kitchen appliances for this type of eating and cooking are: VitaMix, Breadman Breadmachine, Cuisinart Food Processor, Kitchenaid Stand Mixer (with pasta roller attachments) and a Jack LaLannes juicer along with a good set of knives, bamboo chopping boards and cast iron pots, pans and dutch ovens (with no chemical overlay disguised as “non stick”)

      Stick with un processed food purchases (whole foods) and Organic where possible. The recipes are endless, the effort is minimal (once your energy picks up) At first I found it expensive and tiresome but once your body gets the nutrition in needs you dont need to eat nearly as often or as much to feel satisfied and energetic.

      I work full time (50+ hours a week) in a corporate environment, have a husband and religious obligations that take up quite a bit of time outside of work. And I can do it all………… because I have energy!!! Listen to your body. It took all these years for us to destroy our bodies so dont be discouraged if the recovery is equal in length. Only good can come from this sort of eating so keep reading about how you can make healthy, whole food recipes at home and invest in the appliances that make it just a little easier to keep up with.

      I’m not an expert but I know my body and I know that when not even bacteria will touch the grocery store food, its no longer food no matter what it looks like. I feed my dogs the same way. Because our food is unprocessed what I eat they eat (minus the dangerous foods like grapes, onions and garlic etc) and we are all productive, healthy, happy and love it.

    2. I’ve been eating Paleo(ish) for a little while and after the first couple of days of sugar withdrawal (from sugar and other carbs) I don’t miss the bread and pasta. I’ve had a few people be pretty critical over my choice – i think because they don’t know much about it. They think you eat bacon every day :). What it really boils down to is protein, tonnes of veggies and a bit of fruit. You eat more fat, but it’s all good fat. When eating this way it’s not even possible to eat processed food – its all real food – nothing in a package. I’m not hungry and I have better energy.

    3. I came across a new health food product that offers you 43 essential nutrients in every serving. I had back surgery last sept where they did a fustion. I’m at the gym 6 days a week now doing weights and cardio. With little to no pain anymore . I’m also diabetic that has never been able to get my sugar to be consistently under 115 and now that I have added Yevo it runs about 85 to 90. I can’t say it’s from the Yevo but that’s the only thing I have changed. biofoods.myyevo.com

    4. Zena, my skin issues almost disappeared following THe Zone Diet and then The Wheatbelly diet. Google them, both are Very Healthy.

  13. I teach honors level nutrition at our local high school. Both of my classes are going to take the ten day challenge next week and the kids are excited to give it a try.

  14. Lindsay, that is classic signs of detoxing. Think of a heroin attack trying to get clean – you’ve seen the films, that’s kind of like what your body goes thru when detoxing from the chemicals found in processed foods. You feel worse before you feel better – but keep going! Drink LOTS of water to flush the toxins. Try to add fresh lemon (or lemon essential oil) to your water. It will help detox the liver. Once you get the toxins out you will start enjoying the benefits of more energy, better sleep and just plain feeling better!

  15. I was wondering if anyone has notes having side effects when switching to real food?? I have had headaches, irritability, trouble sleeping and even night sweats!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Lindsay. Are you still having symptoms? It is fairly normal for you body to go through some normal detox as you leave the chemicals in processed foods behind. The symptoms should dissipate pretty quickly. Be sure you are drinking plenty of water and talk to your doctor if you’ve not felt relief of your symptoms.

  16. There are 80,000 chemicals and additives approved to be added to our processed foods such as dyes, stabilizers, color enhancers, preservatives, MSG, and virtually all processed foods contain GMO corn and soy. Many of these additives are known to cause allergic reactions, many are suspected carcinogens, some are even suspected of being neurotoxins (they mess with your brain). Virtually all processed foods are dead (cooked over 118-140 deg. which kills all the beneficial enzymes). If you value your health, you will steer clear of all processed foods. That includes bread, packaged pasta, cookies, potato chips (which are simply salt and fat delivery system), bottled juices, and canned soups. We all need to eat more raw foods for the beneficial enzymes anyway, start by eliminating processed foods.

  17. Katlin Stewardson

    Do you have any success stories to share that include healing arthritis? I’m only 25 and pretty sure I have arthritis ( developed very quickly over the last month) and I am willing to do anything to get rid of it. I’m going in for lab work tomorrow.

    1. Katlin – I had the same symptoms, a sudden onset of arthritis pain in my hands. I got a blood test and found dangerous low levels of Vitamin D. You may have low Vitamin D-3, get a blood test, meanwhile, go to a drugstore and pick up a bottle of Vitamin D-3 supplement pills 2,000 to 5,000 IU and start taking them daily now. It would also be helpful if you spent 20 to 30 minutes exposing the painful parts to direct sunlight daily.

    2. I am 50 & had horrible arthritis in my fingers. January 1st of last year I gave up gluten, dairy & sugar & within 5 days my hands quit hurting. I still have the occasional treat but mostly compliant & the pain is gone.

    3. I’m 40 years old and I have arthritis. I hardly ever notice it though because I take mercola brand krill oil. If I forget for a while I can tell. Also, I trust mercola brand and haven’t tried any other brand. I don’t know if it makes a difference in the quality but I’m very happy with mercola. I actually take it to keep my pores from getting clogged. The help with the arthritis was a bonus!

  18. I just recently started cutting processed food I now buy real butter eggs cheese and make my own bread and I make homemade coffee creamer.

  19. Hello Lisa,
    I have discovered that sodium nitrate is a trigger for my migraines. So I have purchased a raw picnic ham to cook for Christmas. My dilemma is finding how to cook a raw picnic ham! Most of the directions reference a smoked or cured ham or a pork butt. I just want to know the best and simplest way to cook my ham!! Do you have any suggestions? The ham is 14 pounds and it’s beautiful! I’m just not sure what to do with it!!
    Thanks in advance for any tips anyone has!!

  20. I just download meal plan one and am planning to start it in January. How many does the grocery list feed? It is just me and my husband and I don’t want to spend a fortune on food that will go bad before we use it. We also live in an apartment and space is limited. Thanks so much.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Li Lauren. Lisa’s plans were designed for a family of four. You can certainly adapt them for your own needs. :)

  21. Where do you start – especially when you do not have money for fancy kitchen gadgets? We’re starting with the bare minimum.

    1. Click the “get started” button at the top. You don’t need a bunch of fancy kitchen gadgets. Also, consider buying her book. I just bought it and it’s a gold-mine of info on how to make the transition.

  22. I’m wondering where Cheerios falls on a the scale of prosessed foods? We are about 80/90% whole foods but there are still some things in my kitchen I’m not sure on and this cereal is one of them. It’s my go to “what the heck do I feed my girls” when I can’t keep up. So what are your thoughts please?

  23. Is there any type of saltine cracker that is a good choice? I have scoured everything on our grocery shelves and cannot find anything. My husband is willing to do a lot to change our eating habits but I got the evil eye when I tried to give him unsalted crackers yesterday because they had the smallest ingredient list…help!

  24. Hello, I ran across this site today. Great site. Our family got into a diet change back in 2007, my son was only 3 then, actually just turned 4. In 2010 I finished my certification in nutrition. Our son has benefited greatly from learning the whole foods way. However, we cut back on fresh food and went back to near completely processed foods for 2 years 2012-July 2014. I can’t believe we did that(well we were trying to save money and pay some things off, med bills) I got so so sick. oh so sick and it came on all of a sudden in May this year. Everything was wrong. My whole system tanked. I knew I needed to save myself, and I also knew a trip to the doctor would yield a plethora of pills.

    So, we went 100% non processed and I broke out our near century old Vitasphere Juicer we bought back in 2007 and haven’t touched in 2 years. I spend 80$ down at our local fruit market every week and we eat for the whole week, 4 people, and juice every day and blend everyday on it.

    In addition I have had to add in a yard of whole food vitamins to our diet. I am just now beginning to
    see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    My dad lives with us, and he is a Meat Addict, also a processed foods junkie, so the whole no processed foods thing is making him grumpy but at least he drinks the juice I make without complaining.

    It is so important to keep up this eating habit. I know so many very sick people around me and Its all nutritional in origin. I also knew better way before I got sick that I would end up nutritionally deficient eating SAD, I guess you loose your way sometimes. Nice to find sites like this out there. There is moocher out there now than there was in 2007 thats for sure.

    I remember I told my best friend Back then, that GMO’s were crossing plant and animal life to make franken foods and put them up for sale (processed) in the grocery store…and he called me a crazy person. Now its common knowledge.

    Great site, take care Cheyenne, C.N.C

  25. Hi, I have been following your site for a while and I love it! I was wondering if you have any tips or tricks for weight loss while following your real food eating plans.

  26. It’s only been one day of eating “real food”, which is all the more reason to shout about how great I feel. I have been a sugar fiend as far back as I can remember, so I was nervous about diving right into this. I woke to have oatmeal sweetened with a T of maple syrup…and it was just sweet enough to be satisfying for me. Yesterday I took a Paula Deen “goulash” recipe (it was really just beefaroni) http://asoutherngirl.com/paula-deens-goulash-the-best-ever/#sthash.0nBL9TSz.dpuf and real foodified it as well as cutting down on some of the salt in her recipe (it called for both salt and soy sauce AND Paula Deen’s House seasoning [read: more salt!]–I also left out the onion and garlic due to having an extreme intolerance to foods in that family. Even without the onion & garlic, it. Was. Awesome! I’m 100% convinced it was the less processed, higher quality ingredients I used and not the recipe that made this meal so fantastic.

    I also wanted something sweet later on (big surprise) and made the 5 minute brownies listed on this site. I only had not quite half the (organic) sugar the recipe called for on hand, so I just went with that. The brownies turned out pretty dry and much cakier (sp) than I prefer a brownie to be, but they were sweet enough…and I used bittersweet cocoa as well as bittersweet morsels to make them. I’m not even a huge fan of chocolate! Perhaps I’ll try the brownies substituting maple syrup next time. ;)

    Bottom line–I feel better–almost “lighter” (not meaning in lbs) and just good overall after just one day of real food cooking. My thinking (brain fog) is clearer and I just plain feel better “inside”. I’m a convert already! I hate to cook, but I’m pledging to continue with this, no question!

  27. the government is letting corporations kill us USA with procssed food because they can make moor money this way because not using natural foods cost them moor. they can charge us moor to give us less healthy foods because our gov. says it ok under a suposed 2000 calorie diet putting the blame for over weight USA on us for not knowing how to eat right when they tell us this food is better for us. [DIET FOOD]!