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Firstly, let’s determine what ‘Processed foods’ means. What are they & where can you find them? 
 
There is an industrial process that these foods undergo in order to achieve a desired outcome by the manufacturer & company. 
 
This could be to ensure it’s life is preserved, for it to be on the shelves or in our cupboards for longer. 
It has to be packageable & withstand any transportation it may go through. This is to ensure it gets to the shelves correctly & most importantly lands on your plate correctly! 
It’s going to be ‘hyperpalatable’. This means it’s going to be very, very tasty. Leaving you wanting more. My ‘I want more food’ is ‘Nutella’. What’s yours? The more you want of something, the more you’re obviously going to eat of it. These foods shouldn’t be avoided, just in fact limited. The exposure to these foods should be kept to a minimum, from your supermarket shop to your nipping down to the store. Be a bit more in control of the amount you buy. 
I think from the above description, you know what foods fit into these categories by now. We’ve all eaten them, we probably still do. 
 
This article isn’t here to warn you off eating them, let’s be honest we will continue to. Instead it’s here to educate you on how much you should be eating of them & give you an insight why it may be easier to gain weight off eating a predominantly highly processed diet. 
 
The study ‘Ultra processed diets cause excess calorie intake & weight gain: An inpatient randomized controlled trial of Ad libitum food intake’ suggests that a diet high in processed foods can lead to the over consumption of calories, in relation to specific calorie ranges for said person. There are numerous factors as to why this is possible. Some of the above pointers give us an insight as to why they could quite easily be over eaten. 
 
Let’s look at affordability, cost & level of income. 
The level of what income a household, person or family has, determines the level of quality of food they consume on a daily basis. The quality & nutrient density of a food falls inline with the cost of which it takes to manufacture & produce & place on our shelves. The cheaper a product is, the more processed it usually is. Right? Tell me how well you ate off a £10 shop that sustained 4 people, for 2 meals per day, across the whole week. It’s very very difficult, without really going out of your way to achieve that. Remember, processed usually means ‘convenience’ too. 
Don’t get me wrong, we can eat well, for less. It’s just a matter of being educated on where to buy from, what to buy, understanding meal composition, how to make tasty meals that the whole family & your friends can eat. There are so many external factors that influence our food choices. 
 
The level of obesity is also usually inline with the level of income in a household due to the foods typically eaten. Again touching on the ability to easily over consume processed foods. Therefore making the ability to stick to a calorie deficit, very difficult. 
 
The study we discuss, shows us a few things. Between both subjects of people, the people who ate predominantly ‘highly processed’ foods, consumed a further 500 calories per day on top of their usual amount due to how calorie dense certain foods were. The more processed a food is, it typically holds more calories per serving for less return. What I mean is. Firstly, the volume of the meal won’t have been much i.e. the serving will have been minimal, not taking much room up on your plate, the nutrient return won’t have equated to much therefore limited for health reasons, the satiety it offered will have been little to nothing; satiety means the feeling of being full. When did you feel full of a poor quality meal & left feeling like you didn’t need much else? I’ll wait. Can you see how you can start to typically over consume calories quite easily without really knowing about it? Ever feel like theres a day where you just can’t be filled, for no apparent reason? More than likely you consumed a low quality highly processed diet the day before or that day! 
Let’s highlight when these foods are consumed. Typically we tend to over consume highly processed foods in the morning & at lunch. This could be due to convenience, the ease factor. It could be that we were ‘brought up’ on eating a lower quality meal at these times. I.e. the typical cereal for breakfast & sandwich crisps & biscuit for lunch. Not shaming these meals I’m just saying these are the typical habits we have in place from a young age. If I start my day on a highly processed meal, I know for a fact im up s*** creek later in the day. Number 1 a lot of my calories have been accounted for before 1pm leaving me with pov cals later on & 2 i just won’t be satisfied. I’ll be wondering what the Pringles are up to in the cupboard! 
 
This one interests me a lot. I discuss on my nutrition principles ebook, The ‘hunger management strategies’ discussion covers how fast we tend to eat & how fast we chew our foods. The slower we are in consuming our food, the longer our ‘end of meal satisfaction’ can last. This means by the time we get to the end, we’ll have the feeling of being fuller start to arise (Satiety) which means we’ll be more inclined to stop eating (or if you’re like me just force it down anyway, my mamma didn’t raise no b***). In the study this suggests we tend to eat processed foods, at a faster rate than we would foods with a higher nutrient properties This could be due to the emotional attachments & rewards we get from the hyperpalatable foods, leaving us ‘wanting’ more & the thought of it running out. Ever get that feeling?! I sure do! 
 
This article isn’t to scare people off of eating processed foods. It’s inevitable we’re going to consume them. We just have to highlight & take care of how much we consume of them. I aim to have no more than 1 processed meal per week. For many reasons, 1 being that it will help towards the sustainability of sticking to calorie ranges. 
 
If you gain any value from this, don’t hesitate to get in touch! 
1. Hall KD, Ayuketah A, Brychta R, Cai H, Cassimatis T, Chen KY, Chung ST, Costa E, Courville A, Darcey V, Fletcher LA. Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake. Cell metabolism. 2019 May 16.) 
Tagged as: Health, Lifestyle, Nutrition
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