Processed meals are not healthy – What is the solution?
Processed meals are not healthy. Food consciousness is essential in our time, and ready-made products have no place in this. They are unhealthy, make you fat, and can even make you ill, and daily consuming multiple servings of processed foods increases this risk. Although this is well known, many people keep buying ready-made products.
Why are these processed meals so unhealthy?
Packaged products are high in calories, low in fiber, mostly sugar, and high in salt, flavorings, and additives. Eating too much of it increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases, and intestinal diseases. Highly processed food does not satisfy us for long.
A finished product sometimes already contains 1/3 of the daily requirement of salt. We get used to it and eat too much of it, which can lead to high blood pressure. Some processed meals also contain hardened palm fat, which creates trans fats.
Also, there are numerous additives that you can recognize as the E numbers in the list of ingredients. Some are not necessarily harmful, but we do not know how the combination of different additives in larger quantities affects us.
Carbohydrates good and bad
Your body needs carbohydrates for a balanced diet. They are essential suppliers of energy. But excessive amounts can sap your energy and lead to weight gain.
Simple carbohydrates in the form of sugars, glucose, and fructose are bad carbohydrates. Found in most sweets, white flour, soft drinks, and fast food.
Complex carbohydrates are starches in foods like flour, potatoes, or rice. They are long-chain carbohydrates from dextrose (glucose), broken down into dextrose during digestion since the body can only absorb simple chains through the intestinal wall.
Complex carbohydrates contain numerous nutrients such as B vitamins, calcium, iron, protein, folic acid, magnesium – and fiber. It is healthier to avoid simple carbs and use complex carbs instead. Because of their composition, the body can absorb simple carbohydrates very quickly. They provide immediately available energy but only for a short time.
See: Are Carbohydrates Bad for You? What the Science Says About Carbs
Blood sugar levels
The blood sugar levels rise only temporarily, which can cause problems. Suddenly you feel tired and sleepy; you can no longer concentrate optimally. Once you get your body used to the regular intake of simple, bad carbohydrates, your appetite and cravings increase.
Complex carbohydrates do not raise blood sugar levels as quickly. It means that you get fewer cravings and feel fitter and more powerful. Therefore, not only the dose of carbohydrate-rich foods is crucial if you want to lose weight. Sport is always part of a healthy and balanced diet. Read> Are Carbohydrates Bad for You?
Convenience foods contain too much salt, simple carbohydrates, bad fat, and sugar. Too much of it makes us fat and sick.
Ready-made products are practical and can be prepared quickly without excellent cooking skills or effort. Thanks to the high salt content and flavor enhancers, they do not taste bad.
An experiment shows: that people eat more of them than unprocessed food. US researchers have found that prepared meals tempt people to eat more and gain weight. They also discovered that flavor enhancers, plasticizers, and pesticides could affect our body weight. These substances get into the brain and trigger false signals, which then demand more calories. It programs the body for weight gain and obesity, and illness.
In our fast-moving world, working life, and family, it is not always time to cook fresh and balanced food every day. There is a temptation to quickly reach into the deep-freeze shelf for processed meals. We even can become addicted to ready meals.
If you use more fresh food and cook yourself, you can’t do anything wrong because consuming more natural food makes the brain less exposed to false signals.
Ready-made vegan food
Vegan does not mean less processed. It is not automatically better because it’s organic, gluten-free, or vegan. For consumers, the degree of processing is hardly recognizable. Meat substitutes, in particular, are ultra-processed.
What is the solution for health-conscious busy people?
Pre-cook and freeze
Cook once and enjoy later again: That is the so-called Meal Prep. You can have weekend meals pre-cooked for the rest of the week. Or you can cook bigger portions and freeze part of them. You even can benefit from nutrient-rich frozen meals for a longer time, depending on the size of your freezer.
Read >WHAT ABOUT FROZEN OR CANNED FRUITS AND VEGETABLES? ARE THEY HEALTHY?
See also > How Can You Avoid Greenwashing? 5 Steps to Choose Truly Healthy and Sustainable Foods
Here are some freezer-friendly recipes:
Easy Vegan Falafel (Freezer Friendly!)
Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish made from chickpeas and/or fava beans. Traditionally, it is deep fried to yield a crispy texture and often served in a pita.
The Best Vegan Meatballs
Vegan meatballs made with real food that are full of flavor, don’t fall apart, aren’t mushy, and are easy to make!
CHICKPEA AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH CURRY
Yes! This curry freezes really well, so you make up a double batch whilst you’re at it and freeze in individual portions.
SPICED RED LENTIL, TOMATO, AND KALE SOUP
This soup went from having almost no protein to over 10 grams per serving. Add a hunk of bread/crackers + a piece of fruit, and you have yourself a nice little meal to enjoy with loved ones.
See > 21 VEGAN FREEZER-FRIENDLY MEAL/SNACK RECIPES + MY TIPS FOR FREEZING.
The Truth About Nitrates and Nitrites in Your Food & Water
See also > 5 Habits of mindful eating, An effective method of improving
our relationship with food, and download for free.
Features image Frozen vegetables photo created by Tatiana Goskova – www.freepik.com and Image by pmvchamara on Freepik