Beware food that pretends to be healthy

There was a thought provoking article in the May 28 edition of the New York Times called ”Why Processed Foods Make You Fat” by Anahad O’Connor. It made me realize I was lulled into eating more vegan processed foods for convenience and variety without paying enough attention to the changes in my diet. I was charmed by the new plant based meats, sausage and cheese, even though I was still eating beans, lentils, tofu and vegetables and fruit. Now I have stopped eating those convenience processed foods and am substituting more dark greens and sweet potatoes and starchy squashes. And I am more satisfied and less hungry.

A study of twenty 31 year old men and women recruited by the National Institutes of Health lived in a research facility for 4 weeks. 2 weeks were spent eating processed foods and 2 weeks were spent eating unprocessed whole foods. The 2 diets consisted of approximately the same number of calories.

The processed diet included cheerios, blueberry muffins, orange juice, cheese and turkey sandwiches, baked potato chips, diet lemonade, pasta, sauces, bagels, bread, steak, canned corn, mashed potatoes from a box, diet soda and snacks included goldfish crackers and low-fat chips, and yogurt with sugar added, as well as what you would find in a vending machine.

 Those eating unprocessed foods were eating whole foods such as fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, beans, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, grains, nuts, seeds, and some animal products.

 Processed foods have fat, sugar, salt, synthetic flavors and preservatives to extend shelf life and to stimulate you to continue eating processed foods. While eating this way, those in the study gained 2 pounds in 2 weeks and were eating 500 more calories per day. Those eating unprocessed foods lost weight. Their appetite suppressant hormone PYY increased and their appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin decreased.

 So, eat food that is natural and whole. Buy most of your food in the produce section. Eat beans and lentils. Have something fresh and raw at each meal. Try to eliminate sugar, fat, salt and flour. Have at least one salad every day. Your health and the health of this planet and those on it will benefit.