In a study last year that was published in Cell Metabolism, it showed that highly processed foods cause you to eat faster and more, which even messes with the hormones that control your hunger. In a month-long study, two groups of people had to eat either a highly processed diet or a unprocessed diet for two weeks at a time.
Both groups gained about 2,2 pounds while on the highly processed diet and lost it again during the unprocessed diet even though both diets contained the same amounts of sugar, fat and fibre. The subjects on the processed diet ate faster and more.
This is because unprocessed foods contain more rough fibre, which means you must chew for longer. Processed foods are usually finer and softer, contains less nutrients and has taste enhancers. It causes you to eat more and faster because your stomach sends the “full” signal long after you have actually had enough.
Fibre and protein, on the other hand, helps to control your blood sugar levels while high blood sugar levels messes with your appetite-suppressing hormones. Highly processed foods include white bread, muffins, fries and biscuits while an unprocessed diet may consist of fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, starch and nuts.
Research has shown by just eating one extra portion of highly processed foods, your risk to die of lifestyle illnesses, increase by 18%. Unfortunately, a processed diet is usually cheaper, easier and quicker than to buy fresh food.
However, if you plan ahead and implement a few easy lifestyle changes, it doesn’t have to be the case.
Tips to eat yourself healthier
- Don’t do anything else while you are eating. Concentrate on the smells and tastes.
It will help you eat slower.
- Buy fruit and vegetables that are in-season. It’s cheaper.
- Draw up a food budget and plan ahead.
- Make your own, healthier versions of your favourite processed food. For example, make your own potato chips and bake it in the oven.
- Make double portions – one for dinner, one as a leftover lunch.
- Start a food club.
Everyone makes one healthy meal per week and share portions with each other.
- Make sure you always have healthy, convenient food and snacks in your home like yogurt, nuts, berries, cereal and humus.