Why it’s not processed foods fault

A recent study was released confirming what many of us already suspected: eating a diet of processed foods-even when matched for sugar, fat & calories- leads to weight gain. The researchers admit their study had flaws, such as what constitutes a processed food; however, they were still surprised by the results. They thought because the processed and unprocessed diets were matched for calories, sugar, and fat, there would be no associated weight gain as it was previously thought the extra calories, sugar, and fat in processed foods were what caused weight gain.

The associated weight gain was 2lbs over the two-week trial. In my opinion-not something to get excited about. The weight gain could be attributed to increased stress, lack of sleep, less physical activity, hydration status, as all these things influence weight. This is why diets are so hard to study; there are so many confounding factors that cannot be controlled in a lab. Some individuals move more than others, some have more muscle mass so they burn more calories at rest, the list goes on.

Outside the lab processed food has made it into the cupboards and freezers of most homes-but it is not processed foods fault. It comes down to busy lifestyles and long work days, picky eaters, lack of cooking skills, and just the plain ol’ lack of desire or energy or time to cook.

Don’t blame the frozen pizza that bakes while the kids change for soccer practice and head out the door, or the frozen dinner that gets microwaved after a long day at work made even longer by the commute. And what about those who cannot afford the ingredients to make meals from scratch, don’t blame them & cheese or the can soup from the food bank.

There is this ideology that everyone would be much healthier and happier if they sat with family or friends and enjoyed a meal homemade with love and care. But it is not always that simple. Some individuals may not know where they will sleep each night, little lone what table they will sit at for dinner. A shift worker may miss weeks of family meals as they are depended on for income. Or a household may have to choose between paying the bills and buying fresh produce.

Even if a diet consisting of processed food leads to weight gain, there are situations where these food items cannot be avoided. Simply encouraging people to make more meals from scratch or to eat less processed food is not always a realistic solution.

White Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 15.5-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

How to Make It Step 1

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, mustard, 3⁄4 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper.

Step 2

Stir in the beans, bell pepper, onion, and thyme. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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