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Processed foods?

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Old 09-13-2011, 04:19 PM   #1
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Default Processed foods?

I'm finding mixed results about this. What makes foods processed or unprocessed? Without eating a totally raw food diet, with cows and chickens in your own backyard and your very own garden, is it even possible to eat a totally unprocessed diet?

My husband is wanting to eat fewer processed foods, and he has a particularly high rate of processed stuff (frozen stuff, etc) at breakfast. That's where he's looking to cut back and start eating more natural stuff.

But what is more natural? For him, it's also gotta be portable, since he drives a truck every day.

Just wondering...thanks!
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:58 PM   #2
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I don't have an answer for your question, since I'm not sure myself, but even if the food isn't quite "portable" can your husband get a small cooler to take food in?

I always make my lunch and while I don't travel for work I have a small cooler that keeps my lunch cool and fresh even though it was made hours earlier. I did this throughout college (which probably helped me maintain my weight rather than gain) as I didn't dorm. Now as I'm working it helps a great deal as well.
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:22 PM   #3
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This is a simplification but I've heard it stated as anything with more than 5 ingredients and/or anything with a name that you can't pronounce or don't know what it is.

Last year for a while I did an anti-inflammatory diet that cuts ALL processed foods. I was making everything from scratch at that point. I lost 30 lbs in 10 weeks without worrying about portions.
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:53 PM   #4
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How about making a smoothie in the morning that he can take on the road...even a few of them with fruits and veggies and keeping a lunch box with some ice in it. That's pretty unprocessed. He can also have some raw nuts as well. That's simple, easy to transport and nutritious.
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Old 09-13-2011, 06:24 PM   #5
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EagleRiverDee...that explanation actually is workable. I'll pass it on to him, and we'll get to searching. A lot of his problem is going to be opening up his mind and tastes to include other things that he's always turned his nose up at...like healthy smoothies and yogurt and stuff.

I told him if he wants to do it I'm on board (I don't eat that much processed stuff anyway)...but he's got to dedicate himself to it because it's a total lifestyle change.
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Old 09-13-2011, 09:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EagleRiverDee View Post
This is a simplification but I've heard it stated as anything with more than 5 ingredients and/or anything with a name that you can't pronounce or don't know what it is.
Just curious - any idea why *5* ingredients? I can think of many very unprocessed meals I've had/made that have more than 5.

To the original poster - it depends on how unprocessed you want to go. White flour is quite processed as opposed to whole wheat, but I think we can agree that white bread is probably not as processed as say, a Twinkie. I would just try to think about how far away the food is from its natural state.

If he eats a lot of frozen dinners, can you just freeze leftovers and he can reheat those? That way you know exactly what's gone into them...no long chemical preservative names and "cheese product" type of questionable ingredients.
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Old 09-13-2011, 10:50 PM   #7
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Michael Pollan references the 5-ingredient rule of thumb. He also suggests using "Don't buy anything with ingredients your grandmother wouldn't recognize."

In other words, if the ingredients start sounding more like a science experiment, don't buy it.

I live in a developing country, where processed foods are rare and extremely expensive. I am forced to buy most food fresh. It's been a great awareness exercise. Most of our grocery money is spent on fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, and dairy. These are bought from local markets. I only buy from the supermarket the other stuff: peanut butter, pasta noodles, grains, canola oil.. not much else.

Our pantry mainly consists of spices, different vinegars and oils, rice, semolina and other grains, and legumes. Our refrigerator is fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs, yogurt, and cheese. We make most of our meals from these ingredients.

If you are willing to put the time in to cook (which I LOVE so it's easy for me to make time for cooking!) you can easily build a diet around fresh, unprocessed foods. We'll make a quiche for breakfast and eat it for a few days, or muffins made from bananas and soy flour for protein. Dinner may be home made pasta sauce (made from fresh tomatoes- you can just make a big batch every now and then and freeze it) with eggplant or pasta, a casserole, stir fry, baked fish with fresh herbs, or an Indian dish (spiced lentils, channa masala, etc), with sauteed vegetables, cauliflower soup, or fruit salad for a side.

I share all this because it has really changed my perspective living in a country where I can't get packaged foods. Even though I shopped at Whole Foods in the US, I was still getting a lot of my food from boxes and packages. I didn't realize that until I moved overseas, when there were far few boxes and packages to buy
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Old 09-13-2011, 11:12 PM   #8
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This reminds me of the first time I brought some Hamburger helper into the house after Angie and I were married 16 years ago

Now my mom and my first wife used the stuff maybe once a week or two. After my divorce I used it at least once a week.

After we were married Angie did all the cooking for a few years. Then one day she got home from work a little late. My son was lying on the sofa, I was reclining in my chair watching television when she came through the door.

The first thing out of both our mouths was "What's for dinner?" Well she had not had a good day so she comes back with "Whatever your making! "

Anyway that was the start of my cooking real food Being new at it one of the first things I planned for dinner on my night to cook was Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper. I had it all out with the hamburger cooking when she came home....

"What is this crap doing here?"

"I'm cooking Babe"

"Not this "*&&^%@##$!"

"Why not?"

"Look at the back..(ingredients)....recognize any of those things?...of course not! It's all chemicals that kill us!"

Next thing I knew she had a pound of elbow pasta, a chunk of cheese, my hamburger was ok, and some milk......

I had my cheeseburger "helper" without all the "processed" stuff.

Now I am not the best example of eating properly but I have to say it is rare that we ever have fast food or eat something out of a "kit"
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Old 09-14-2011, 01:07 AM   #9
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I would be cautioned about the "foods you can't pronounce" because somethings they ARE legitimate foods or nutrient additives (not necessarily shelf-life preserving chemicals etc).

Right now, I'm focusing on basic ingredients: Fruits, veggies, meat (which I would PREFER to buy truly farm-fresh organic but it's expensive and hard to get), farm-fresh eggs, organic salsa, etc. Yogurt is the harder one to buy, especially in individual cups because I haven't been able to find a good, cheap, organic one so I've had to stick with Astro fat-and-sugar-free.

Anything packaged (spaghetti sauce, except for the organic variety, soups, frozen foods, ready-to-eat foods, etc) are usually what I would call "processed." Bread is processed too, unfortunately, though you can buy less processed bread than others. Bakery fresh seems to be the best choice as opposed to stuff like Wonder etc.
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:55 AM   #10
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I think his goal isn't necessarily to go totally raw or organic...but just cut back on the "stuff" that's in everything. We looked at the ingredient list on the box his frozen lunch was in...just a simple frozen French bread pizza with like 40 ingredients. Just crazy. That's the stuff he's talking about....

It will just take him changing his way of thinking. He'll have to learn to be ok with leftovers more often, and things that aren't as convenient all the time. I'm almost there now, but he's coming along.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:34 AM   #11
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MindiV, some easy and portable meals are breakfast sandwiches or wraps. Eggs, sausage (I make turkey sausage and add a little maple syrup into it - Here is a good recipe), cheese if you want, veggies if you want. Everything can be wrapped, frozen and microwaved to go.

I absolutely use some processed foods (like breads). I'm not sure how your husband feels about that, but I get most from Trader Joe's and usually as healthy as possible while staying within my caloric limits.

These are really good too, and can be changed up depending on the vegetables that you like. You could also add meat like this.

Soup is super portable via thermos if he's open to non-traditional breakfasts.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
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I would be cautioned about the "foods you can't pronounce" because somethings they ARE legitimate foods or nutrient additives (not necessarily shelf-life preserving chemicals etc).
Sure, which is why it's just a rule of thumb, not a hard-and-fast requirement . The "don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't have heard of" can't work 100% of the time either. My grandmother would have no idea what tofu, tempeh, or seitan are, yet these are great components to a healthy, whole foods diet.

I think all of these rules of thumb have the same gist: some packaged foods have lots of additives and chemicals, some are just that: food. And the latter is what you want.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:44 AM   #13
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Jillian Michaels puts it this way in her book: if it didn't have a mother or it didn't grow from the ground, don't eat it. The Eat Clean Diet by Tosca Reno is also very good. It's a great way to eat, and as an almost vegan who has be relying on crappy french fries and processed stuff, I'm looking to start it again (it is in no way a vegan diet, I'm not trying to promote it as such lol). I felt better than ever, had a lot of energy, and lost weight without trying.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:48 AM   #14
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My rule of thumb until I'm better acquainted with nutrition as a whole (bring on the text books and exams woo hoo) is pretty simple for me to follow.
If I can't make it in my own kitchen, I shouldn't be eating it.
If I can make it in my kitchen, I SHOULD be making it in my kitchen.

It's worked well for me, but of course I still have the occasional eating out or what have you, but i've noticed, more so lately, that anything 'fast food' like, just does NOT sit well with me, and Jack wont eat it either.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:53 AM   #15
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Quote:
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If I can make it in my kitchen, I SHOULD be making it in my kitchen.
I love it. That's how I feel about condensed soups in a can, tomato sauce in a jar, boxed/bagged "taco kits," instant potatoes/instant anything, just-add-water hummus, etc. Why would I buy it, and spend 4x as much money on it, if I can make it better, healthier, and cheaper at home?

Good rule of thumb :0
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