I hear it all the time . . . "Twinkies will kill you." "McDonald's french fries will kill you." "Bacon will kill you." "Processed food will kill you." "Bananas will kill you." Ok, that last one was my mom and she was just kidding (she hates bananas) but the others I have heard numerous times. I hear these battle cries at work, at the grocery store, at the farmer's market, and even at Wal Mart. I hear them on the news and see them written on blogs and websites. People want to tell everyone that will listen how horrible a certain food is for you. I can't help but laugh . . . mainly because I picture twinkies killing the person who uttered the battle cry (there is a little army of them with little white swords - I have a big imagination) but also because people are just so misinformed.
Processed food is not evil.
Processed food was invented back when people stopped following herds of animals around the continent. It was invented when people started staying in one place and needed to preserve food to last through the winter. Processed food was invented to sustain life. Now it sounds great doesn't it?
Everything from canned peaches to bacon to twix bars are processed. But, when people talk about evil processed food they are usually talking about heavily processed food. Items that do not resemble what they were made from and have more additives and preservatives than actual food.
So, will processed food KILL you?
If you eat Reese's Peanut Butter Cups all day every day (Michael would love to do this) you WILL DIE. You will . . . your body needs nutrients and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups don't have them all. On the other hand, if you eat carrots all day every day you WILL also DIE. Again . . . your body needs nutrients and carrots don't have them all.
You need a balanced diet to be healthy. A diet full of fruits, vegetables, meat, beans, grains, water, and dairy products. Eating healthy is not a guarantee to a long life . . . you could always get hit by a bus or something tragic like that. But, you will be happier, healthier, and probably live longer if you eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet can include heavily processed food. I think we can all agree that canned peaches, although processed, are still a sensible food choice. And we probably can also agree that twix bars, delicious as they are, would not be considered a sensible food choice - instead they would be a treat.
Here is the amazing thing about our agricultural system . . . YOU have the choce to make. YOU can eat heavily processed food. YOU can eat only food that is not processed. YOU can mix processed and not process as YOU see fit. Isn't that awesome . . . you can use your brain!!
Now, let me be very clear on this . . . processed foods will NOT kill you. Processed food can be a part of a healthy diet. But you need to use your brain to figure out if the item you want to eat is a sensibe choice or a treat and eat it accordingly.
How do YOU choose the eat processed food?