You may heard of the new raw food diet trend that celebrities like Katy Perry and Gwyneth Paltrow are on and are curious on what it means or how it is good for the body. The raw food diet, or clean eating is a fairly simple concept; instead of obsessing over ingesting less or more of particular things (like fewer calories or more protein) you are more aware of the origin of the food that goes on your plate. Cleaning eating is about consuming whole foods, or “real” foods which are “un” or minimally processed, refined, and handled making them as close to natural as you possible. The production of modern food has become so complicated that simply eating whole foods can be a challenge.
Let’s start by defining processed foods:
> Additives of any kind – like salt, sugar, fat to aid flavor and mouthfeel, preservatives that keep food from spoiling too quickly, and vitamins enriching everything from beverages to breakfast cereal.
> Changing the form of the natural food – removing the bran and germ from whole grains to create refined bread, mashing apples into applesauce, or stir-frying veggies.
> Foods with parts manufactured in a lab.
You probably just realized that processed foods are everywhere from the oatmeal you consume in the morning to the hotdog you grab on your lunch break from that food vendor. And yes, changing the form of natural food includes cooking as well, so even your steamed broccoli is technically processed.
That being the case, why is processing food bad?
It’s not. Or rather, not categorically. Most time processing removes toxins or bacteria; allowing off-season foods to be consume due to freezing or canning. It also includes altering the consistency or taste of food. Yes, that post-workout spiced banana-almond smoothie is processed, even when you add kale and spinach to it. Though pasteurized milk, kale smoothies, and instant oatmeal are process they are not on the same level as honey buns and soda.
Process food is apart of modern diet, but the key is to stay away ‘ultra-processed’; anything food-like product or ready-to-heat.
The problem with ultra-processed foods are they are typical genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
GMOs are linked to cancer and infertility because ultra-processed foods are stripped of nutrients needed for overall health. Heavily modified foods are linked to a list of health problems because they tend to have additive that overstimulate the dopamine (pleasure neurotransmitter) produced in your brain causing a vicious cycle of craving junk food. The danger is that ultra-processed foods are marketed in a way that makes it seem good for you (less sodium! no trans fats! vitamin-enriched!) but are more damaging to your health.
> Unprocessed foods:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Dried legumes
- Farm-fresh eggs
> Minimally processed foods:
- Unrefined grains: whole wheat bread, pasta, popcorn, steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Unprocessed meat; wild over pastured, pastured over grain-fed
- Hormone-free dairy
Why Eat Clean
Plant-based diets are healthy and can curb or prevent certain life-threatening conditions and diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. Diets high in fruits and vegetables are linked to healthy weight management and glowing skin and hair.
Stick to the perimeter of your grocery store, processed food lurks in the aisles in between. When you are approaching those aisle ask yourself critical questions like: Where did this food or its ingredients come from? How much has it been processed or handled?
The ingredient label should be short, and all ingredients should be recognizable. Scan for easy-to-avoid additives like artificial coloring and flavors. Eating clean (raw) doesn’t mean you need to eat everything straight from the ground; just choose minimally processed foods.