The meal above is a perfect example of my definition of processed food. It comes out of a freezer or can and can be heated in the microwave.
Research scientists at the National Institutes of Health wanted to measure if a processed food diet would lead to weight gain. This isn’t an easy type of study to do and it costs quite a lot of money - but they managed to convince 20 healthy adults to live at NIH for 4 weeks. You can read about their study here: NIH study finds heavily processed foods cause overeating and weight gain.
Thank you, people who volunteered!!
At the lab, they were fed three meals per day (plus snacks) and every calorie they ate was measured. One group was assigned whole foods and another was assigned processed foods.
Both groups were allowed to eat as much as they wanted for every meal (go ahead have seconds, thirds!!).
The first image in the post is of the lunch that was served on Day 7 to half of the group. It is:
Macaroni and cheese (Stouffer’s), Chicken tenders (Perdue), Canned green beans (Giant) , Diet lemonade (Crystal Light) with NutriSource fiber. The researchers had to add drinks with fiber to make up for the lack of natural fiber in the processed food.
Here is what the whole food group got on for the same Day 7 lunch:
Grilled chicken breast, Quinoa (Nature’s Earthly Choice) salad with raisins (Monarch), onions, chopped walnuts (Diamond), parsley, fresh squeezed lemon juice and olive oil, Side salad (spinach, tomato and cucumber) with vinaigrette (balsamic vinegar (Nature’s Promise) and olive oil)
The researchers designed the two diets so that they contained roughly equivalent amounts of calories, carbs, fat and sugar.
What do you think happened? The processed food group ate 500 more calories per day than the whole food group!! They gained about 2 pounds.
The processed food diet caused a rise in hunger hormones compared to the whole food diet and the poor people in the processed group ate more.
I do feel sorry for the processed food diet volunteers because that must have been hard.
The people on the whole food diet lost weight! Remember, they had unlimited access to food that someone else served them - and they lost weight. This group lost 2 pounds.
The unprocessed diet led to higher levels of appetite-suppressing hormones and lower levels of the hormone that stimulates hunger. How about that?
Here are some other examples of the food from the study.
Whole food snacks:
Which would you rather eat? Be honest with yourself. But, what if you knew that eating the whole food is proven to stop you from feeling hungry? I think that might sway me toward the healthy stuff.
Here are some dinner test meals.
This is a processed food meal - Peanut butter (Monarch) and jelly (Monarch) sandwich on white bread, (Ottenberg) 2% milk (Cloverland) with NutriSource fiber, Baked Cheetos (Frito-Lay), Graham crackers (Nabisco), Chocolate pudding (Snack Pack) with NutriSource fibe.r
This is a whole food meal:
Stir fried beef tender roast (Tyson) with broccoli, onions, sweet peppers, ginger, garlic and olive oil , Basmati rice (Roland), Orange slices , Pecan halves (Monarch) Salt and Pepper (Monarch).
The researchers revealed that it cost them 40% more to make the whole food diet meals. That, my readers, is one of the biggest problems. It is expensive to make healthy food and it takes time. I get it. I serve frozen food (heated up) at dinner sometimes because I am out of time and I need to get food on the table. I have noticed how much it costs me to provide my family with fresh fruits and vegetables.
But, when you reach for that convenience food you might not feel satisfied after you eat it. What is that doing to your waistline and overall health?
My advice is to take a look at your meals and see which photos they most resemble. Then, figure out how you can get them to look more like the whole food photos. You will probably lose weight without counting a calorie.
What do you think of this study? Does it make sense to you?