An emerging food category of concern is ultra-processed food. Not only does extreme processing apparently lead to health risks, but preliminary research links it with increasing caloric intake prior to our sensing fullness. But understanding food processing isn’t straight forward. After all, some of the foods popularly considered most healthy are very processed including soy products and protein powder.
And of course we need to keep these risks in perspective and not label any food or food group as inherently all bad.
This is a mostly balanced article about food processing and what might be behind the risks.
If you do have the means to avoid ultra-processed foods, be gentle with yourself. While you should seriously limit the amount of processed foods in your diet, cutting them out completely isn’t necessary. If you reach for a bag of chips every once in a while, it’s not the end of the world. Taking too severe of an approach to food could lead down the path to disordered eating, especially if you start equating some foods as bad or even evil. Research shows that not only does dieting not work, with research dating back 50 years showing that “95 to 98 percent of attempts to lose weight fail” but that it’s a slippery slope from cutting out entire groups of food to developing disordered eating.