Let me give you a basic lesson in food technology. Everything we put in our mouth has gone through a process. Water is purified, meaning that’s been through a process. Beef is Slaughtered, Butchered and then Prepared. Bread rises because of the chemical reaction of the yeast with the sugar. Even your salad has been through a process. EVERYTHING is processed.
Now, during these processes, you have 3 distinct types.
Clean Processing, where next to nothing extra is added, for example, minced beef from the butcher.
Reforming, which is literally what it sounds like, the product is mashed to a pulp with binding agents, preservative (most aren’t harmful) and flavourings like salt, pepper, herbs and spices, think fresh burgers from the supermarket.
Pre-Prepared/Ready Meal, which is the entire thing is prepared for you, it could be frozen burgers that need more binding agents to keep them intact, or preservatives. Or in ready meals, high amounts of salt, sugar, flavour enhancers and even E numbers. As these are normally microwaved, the flavour does dull, and as such, they need to make them extra flavoursome to prevent the meal becoming bland. Which ultimately requires salt and sugar.
Unless you plan on going all Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson, and making everything from scratch, the first 2 types of processing are fine for a daily basis. Unless you really want to live off carrots and raw veg for the rest of your days.
The third type of processing should be avoided and should be more of a treat, not a daily staple, for example, on a Friday night and you’ve just finished work and can’t be bothered cooking.
That nice juicy steak you plan to trim the fat off and serve up rare, that’s going to go through 2 processes at your hands before it even makes it to the plate. The mashed potatoes? 3 processes, peel, boil and mash. And the vegetables, 1 process. Boil.
Don’t think of processed foods and think they are the work of the devil, because they’re not. They’re convenient, usually just as good as something you could make from scratch, and generally work out to be cheaper.
They can also cook quicker which in today’s busy world, is a god send. Let’s be honest, when you’re busy, a fish finger sandwich for lunch isn’t going to kill you. It contains Carbs, a little fat, Omega-3 and protein. It’s all about weighing up the good and the bad.
Naturally, a McDonalds Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal isn’t an ideal lunch every day, but as a treat every now and again it will do no harm. Neither will going to Pizza Hut once a month for date night. Granted you could make healthier versions at home, but that then takes all the fun out of your guilty pleasure.
If anything one of the most ridiculous fads is juicing. It’s bad for your teeth as the process turns it into pure sugar, and most of the key nutrients are lost. You’re better off just eating the actual fruit!