A Letter on Avoiding Ultra-Processed and Processed Foods

Dear Readers, Friends, and Family,

I am back from a long, spectacular vacation spent gazing at the sea and at the fish and coral under the sea.  I’ve been meaning to write, but since coming back, computer viruses have infected nearly every computer in the house.  And my toddler has been terrorizing not only every cupboard, drawer, room, and refrigerator in the house, but also the limits of my patience as well.

My mind frequently turns to writing posts in my brain, even if I am not physically able to get to the computer because I’m busy picking the toddler’s smashed avocado off the floor or fighting my tween’s (Tween–I don’t know who thought of that word, but it has become very useful to me.) tears brought about by algebra’s exponents.  I hoard articles (and questions) that people send to me via texts and e-mails for a long time until hopefully I can use them for articles.

One such article sent to me summarizes a study on how much “ultra-processed” food Americans consume and how much sugar that puts in our diets.  Click on the article title to read a summary of the research study:

Over half of America’s calories come from ‘ultra-processed’ foods.


The food we eat as Americans blows my mind.  This study summarized in the article above looked at “ultra-processed” foods.  These are foods with several ingredients which include ingredients not normally used in “culinary preparations,” like artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers, and other additives.  The results didn’t even include “processed” foods with their processed sugars, processed oils, processed fats, and other substances extracted from nature.  If over half our calories are coming from ULTRA-PROCESSED foods, I don’t even want to know how many are coming from the combination of ULTRA-PROCESSED and PROCESSED together!

Now, I did eat this stuff for about 4/40ths of the years of my life, even with my medical (and pharmacy) training.  Because, like my tween daughter and her algebra, I simply didn’t apply what I was learning to my life.  And medical school didn’t teach me to.  And no, I wasn’t stupid.  I was a robot designed to proudly and arrogantly earn honors.

But I’m here to tell you it matters.  I find it rockingly humorous that money is spent on some of this food research.  And until the research results come out, they (meaning doctors and government guidelines) won’t harp on the American population to simply eat REAL food to avoid disease.  So I’ll harp on you.  Harping on you also keeps me accountable!

Shop the outer aisles.  Fresh and whole is the goal.  (That rhymes!)

Eat more real vegetables.  There are so many.  Surely you can find one!

Keep your starch products in REAL form.  A real potato.  Real rice grains.  Corn on the cob (unless you’re snobby and like it cut off).

Only use oils and fats which require only THE BARE MINIMUM of processing.  Pressed olive oil and coconut oil.  Butter.  We don’t want processed fats.  Not good.  Not good at all.

Eat your fruits fresh.  Of course there is wiggle room for frozen, dried, and canned.  Just don’t wiggle-worm it into much with added sugars and preservatives.

If you add sweetener, recognize it as the treat it should be.  I love Disney World, but I don’t live there.

See boxes as potential WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING.  If it comes in a box, scrutinize it for its nutritional value.  Need help?  There’s a comment box below.  For free.

Processed foods and ultra-processed foods?  Sure!  You CAN eat that stuff.  You CAN eat it every day.  It IS your choice.  You can eat the processed and ultra-processed foods and be a diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and autoimmune disease statistic.

Or you can endeavor each day to follow some basic, simple food guidelines.  Over and over and over and over and over again.  I wish I could tell you you’ll be able to stop and go back to those old foods like you used to be able to.  You won’t be able to. Sure, for a brief trip to Disney World, maybe, if you’re lucky.

Well, I’m starting to lose my thoughts with the ever-present commotion in our home.  Please.  Eat real food.  Keep it real.  Keep it simple.  Watch out for food sensitivities too.  But that’s a different post.

Don’t wait for the government to start taxing your sugar consumption.  Start now.  So the sugar withdrawal is over by then.  😉

Until next time.


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