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"How Processed Food Makes Us Fat" — The Grow Network Community
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"How Processed Food Makes Us Fat"

Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial DirectorSouthwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 580 admin

"The very first randomized controlled trial of ultra-processed food is here. Kevin Hall, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, brought subjects into the lab for four weeks and fed them one of two diets: ultra-processed or minimally processed, designed to have the same combination of carbs, fat and protein. The ultra-processed menus included store-bought mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, canned ravioli and frozen pancakes, while on the minimally processed side there was pasta with shrimp, salad with grilled chicken and grains, and oatmeal with nuts and bananas. Subjects were told to eat as much as they wanted. (Each subject spent two weeks on each diet.)

The result was that, when they ate ultra-processed food, they consumed 500 more calories per day. Five hundred! They also gained a couple of pounds. Notably, though, subjects rated the meals as equally good-tasting."



  • anita.toler73anita.toler73 Posts: 25 ✭✭✭

    One thing that I have learned about processed food was when I tried the Keto diet. Although it was not for me, I learned alot about processed food is that even things we think are healthy are not. for example, I never realized how much "hidden" sugars there were in everything from salad dressings to ketchup and in anything basically on a shelf at the grocery store. I'm convinced that sugar in its forms (fructose, lactose, etc) is part of our health problems. Although it is more time consuming - I feel alot better making my own dinners that don't come processed or in a box. Thanks for the info!

  • bejer19bejer19 IllinoisPosts: 59 ✭✭✭

    Very interesting and not unexpected at all. It's especially interesting to think about visual cues being more important than our hormonal cues with regards to satiety. And probably makes a good case for consciously slowing down your eating no matter what you're munching on.

    I also really enjoyed the point about making processed food more healthy. Obviously one of the ways to do that is to make more "convenience" foods at home. I've always enjoyed making my own of things like pasta sauce and jam, but I've been toying with the idea of homemade frozen meals lately too. Life gets busy, especially during the summer season when friends, family, and garden are all competing for my time. Haven't figured out the best way to do it just yet, but thinking about pre-cooking in the instant pot, freezing in single/double/family sized portions and then being able to heat on the stovetop. Haven't quite made it a reality yet though!

  • pamelamackenziepamelamackenzie Posts: 145 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2019

    Regarding making your own frozen meals, my favorite way to reheat many of them is the Hot Logic Mini. Another good idea is to get a freezer safe container that fits inside your instant pot or stove-top pot, but a little smaller than it. Then freeze the food in that container. That way when you remove from freezer and pop out of container, it should fit in the pot.

    For the Hot Logic Mini. You can find this online via an internet search and also at Amazon. It is basically a warming plate inside an insulated container and looks like a small lunch container. Once plugged in, it is on, unplug to turn off.  You use your own lidded container inside it for cooking, up to about 6 x 9. Many people use rectangular glass food containers. Stainless Steel and other containers can also be used.  For optimum results, the container should have a flat bottom and well-fitted lid.  For lunch, I remove the item from freezer in morning, place in hot logic mini, and plug in. It is hot and ready by lunch. This works very well for things that don't need to be crispy. The company now also sales a large one for casserole - size dishes. I had two of the regular size ones and I can remove the warming plates, put in an insulated carrying case for pyrex dishes that I already have. Then I can use that set up to warm up a casserole - size dish. Of course, I then have two cords that both have to be plugged in. Also, you might have to make a couple of small holes at rear of the insulated container for the cords to exit (if you are using you own).  If you just purchase the large one, you could not only heat the largest size container that will fit, but could do two 6 cup rectangular container or several smaller ones. You can even cook frozen chicken breast, especially if you freeze it with some liquid sauce that helps distribute the heat throughout. If I remember correctly, you don't want to do raw chicken with bones such as legs/thighs since their shape hinders heat transfer and the bones also interfered with it.  For those worrying about how long it takes to get to a safe temperature, then just use it for reheating grain/veggie meal items. 

  • KarinKarin New ZealandPosts: 233 ✭✭✭


    I think the main reason processed foods cause us to put on weight is that its soooo much easier to eat more of them. Just having a look around as you walk down the street, people are often eating, from babies upwards. And I include in that - drinking coffees or shakes or soft drinks. If we think back a few decades, that sort of food just wasn't available and we had to make a conscious effort to find, harvest and cook it. We ate three meals a day because it took time to do that, we just didn't have the food instantly there. And there is only so much food you can eat at one sitting (eating contests not-withstanding). So we ate less, chewed more and what we ate was more nutritious.

    Pre-prepping meals is a great idea, but it requires a concentrated effort once a week or so (depending on your storage availability). Easier sometimes is making a double lot of a meal, as it takes the same amount of time, and freezing leftovers. But it sure does save time later on!

  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 519 ✭✭✭✭

    Some of the articles that I have read over the past few years and also in talking with an older gentleman (he was in his 80s or 90s) at a book signing six years ago, I have learned that a lot of the obesity in the West (United States and Europe) is caused by malnutrition. It can be attributed to our overconsumption of refined and heavily processed foods that have little to no nutritional value, along with food that is grown on soils that are depleted of nutrients, and the like.

    I grew up in a family of 7 and most meals we cooked (the whole family including the youngest were involved in preparing the meal) from scratch. I didn't do it too much when I became an adult but when I met a young lady who was morbidly obese with a large amount of health problems I jumped into action and re-learned how to cook food (didn't do a lot of home cooking while in college and especially not in high school) and also started growing food with her and her children.

  • probinson50probinson50 Posts: 38 ✭✭✭

    Having a autoimmune issue, I have had to really be careful what I eat. Having homegrown food has literally been a life saver for me. Clean eating and regular fasting has been the path to healing for me (much like the way my grandparent lived as a choice). Even some of the so called healthy processed foods are anything but.

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