Processed food

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Replies

  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,147 Member
    rybo wrote: »
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    cnjg420 wrote: »
    How can you tell

    Does it exist in nature? If it doesn't, it's processed.

    That said, most of what we eat is processed to one extent or another...I buy broccoli that is trimmed and comes in a bag...technically, it is processed. This like dairy, canned beans, canned tomatoes, etc are minimally processed...something like chips, Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, frozen ready meals, etc would be highly processed.

    Pretty much this. Add in breakfast cereal, pizza, twinkies, ho-ho's, & candy etc.
    The "pre-internet" gym setting is my reference. When someone wanted to drop weight or cut up, they dropped or severely limited processed foods, & "ate clean" & nobody argued what was "legal".

    or just reduced calories...
  • Need2Exerc1se
    Need2Exerc1se Posts: 13,577 Member
    rybo wrote: »
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    cnjg420 wrote: »
    How can you tell

    Does it exist in nature? If it doesn't, it's processed.

    That said, most of what we eat is processed to one extent or another...I buy broccoli that is trimmed and comes in a bag...technically, it is processed. This like dairy, canned beans, canned tomatoes, etc are minimally processed...something like chips, Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, frozen ready meals, etc would be highly processed.

    Pretty much this. Add in breakfast cereal, pizza, twinkies, ho-ho's, & candy etc.
    The "pre-internet" gym setting is my reference. When someone wanted to drop weight or cut up, they dropped or severely limited processed foods, & "ate clean" & nobody argued what was "legal".

    This is pretty much my experience too. Actually, it's still my experience IRL. When someone says they are going to eat clean I've never heard anyone argue about what was and was not clean or processed. Mostly people just say something like "Yeah, I probably should to." and go on with their lives.
  • Sp1tfire
    Sp1tfire Posts: 1,120 Member
    Processed foods are not evil, but I do think there are a few general categories most people think of when they think of processed food.

    For instance, this is what most imagine when someone says 'processed' food:
    sw_04_18_product_devilsfood.png

    yet this also falls under the category of 'processed' but is not so popularly demonized:
    spoon_1lb_4_cottagecheese_smcurd_rf.png

    Then there is 'unprocessed':
    stock-photo-nice-young-farmer-with-freshly-picked-vegetables-in-basket-621435623.jpg
    Got a kick out of this picture. Thinking of TRULY unprocessed would probably mean growing your own food/buying only fresh vegetables/fruits.

  • estherdragonbat
    estherdragonbat Posts: 5,285 Member
    Growing up, the foods that got disparaged as 'over-processed and unhealthy' were mostly processed cheeses (American slices, especially if orange rather than white, Cheez Whiz, and Velveeta, as well as the powdered cheese used in the sauce for mac-n-cheese. Colby and cheddar were fine, though, so the issue wasn't with orange cheese per se), cold cuts, and soft ice cream.

    But we happily made soup mixes and packaged rice pilafs, jell-o and pudding mixes, and although I would go vegetarian later on, we often had breaded fish sticks in the freezer.
  • Need2Exerc1se
    Need2Exerc1se Posts: 13,577 Member
    katadx wrote: »
    Processed foods are not evil, but I do think there are a few general categories most people think of when they think of processed food.

    For instance, this is what most imagine when someone says 'processed' food:
    sw_04_18_product_devilsfood.png

    yet this also falls under the category of 'processed' but is not so popularly demonized:
    spoon_1lb_4_cottagecheese_smcurd_rf.png

    Then there is 'unprocessed':
    stock-photo-nice-young-farmer-with-freshly-picked-vegetables-in-basket-621435623.jpg
    Got a kick out of this picture. Thinking of TRULY unprocessed would probably mean growing your own food/buying only fresh vegetables/fruits.

    But even those of us that grow most of our own usually end up processing some of it by canning, pickling or otherwise preserving some for the colder months.
  • Sp1tfire
    Sp1tfire Posts: 1,120 Member
    katadx wrote: »
    Processed foods are not evil, but I do think there are a few general categories most people think of when they think of processed food.

    For instance, this is what most imagine when someone says 'processed' food:
    sw_04_18_product_devilsfood.png

    yet this also falls under the category of 'processed' but is not so popularly demonized:
    spoon_1lb_4_cottagecheese_smcurd_rf.png

    Then there is 'unprocessed':
    stock-photo-nice-young-farmer-with-freshly-picked-vegetables-in-basket-621435623.jpg
    Got a kick out of this picture. Thinking of TRULY unprocessed would probably mean growing your own food/buying only fresh vegetables/fruits.

    But even those of us that grow most of our own usually end up processing some of it by canning, pickling or otherwise preserving some for the colder months.

    Good point! I didn't think of that. The truly 'unprocessed' becomes even more elusive to those who seek it.
  • WinoGelato
    WinoGelato Posts: 13,456 Member
    Did OP ever come back and clarify why he or she was trying to know if something was processed or not?

    No? Ok in that case, since we are just chatting about various processed foods, can someone explain why Hamburger Helper gets such a bad rap? It was a staple in my house growing up (wagon wheel was my favorite) and I cook it for my family occasionally. It's ground beef, dried pasta, and dehydrated sauce. I usually add frozen spinach. What is it about the fact that it comes in a box and has some hard to pronounce ingredients that makes it something I should apparently feel guilty for feeding my children... even though they enjoy it and eat with no complaints (a big victory in my book)?
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    rybo wrote: »
    Oh how I long for the days pre-internet when everyone understood what processed foods were and didn't get trivial, nit picky and pedantic about such things.

    I grew up pre-internet, and we knew cheese and yogurt and bread were processed foods. We didn't go on about it, since who cares. We also used other (more specific) terms for what people now seem to think are the only processed foods, like "fast food," or "restaurant food," or "TV dinners," or "frozen meals," or "convenience items."

    Oddly enough, during my childhood we both ate plenty of processed foods (pretty similar to the kinds of processed foods I eat regularly now, plus some other things I don't really eat), and didn't have some bizarre idea that being "processed" meant something was inherently bad for you or "processed" meant anything more than that it was, you know, processed in some way. Natural peanut butter is processed as is smoked salmon or bacon or a Hungry Man TV dinner or some frozen egg rolls. Are they all the same? No, they are quite different.

    This may just be my personal experience, but I only heard "processed" being used as a synonym for "unhealthy," "bad," "fast food," or "convenience foods" once "clean eating" became a commonly used phrase. When I was younger, I never heard it used that way -- it seemed that most people understood, without dwelling on it too much, that cheese and canned beans and bread were processed.

    When I was young (60's - 70's) clean eating was commonly used and everyone seemed to know it meant natural whole foods. Processed foods was the opposite and generally thought of as not as healthy by those who touted clean eating (which weren't many that I knew other than my older sister and her hippie friends).

    I guess I ran into the term rather late then. My parents (and their friends) talked about "whole foods," but I never heard the term "clean eating" until I was much older. And they didn't consider a food undergoing processing as necessarily negating its status as a whole food (some forms of processing would, of course). "Processing" and "whole" were not seen as opposites in our circle, but two ways of describing food that could sometimes overlap and sometimes not. Yogurt (some kinds), for example, was considered a whole food, as were whole grain breads.

    I honestly didn't know anyone that ate yogurt when I was young, but I doubt that would have been considered a "processed food'. Things like Hamburger Helper, La Choy, Dinty Moore, TV dinners, etc. were generally what was meant.

    In my home, it was just used to describe foods that had undergone processing. My parents encouraged the consumption of some of those foods (yogurt, whole grain bread, fermented vegetables, wheat germ) and discouraged the consumption of others (Lucky Charms, potato chips, bologna).

    I never encountered the term as a value judgment or an meaningful description of a food's nutritional value until much later in life.

    That's why I question that, pre-internet, it meant the same thing to everyone. Doubtless, some people did use it in the way OP means it (foods to be avoided). But other people, I'm sure, were more like my family and just used it to describe foods that had undergone processing.

    You may be right. It could be regional. When I was young and people used these terms everyone seemed to know what was meant. But perhaps if we'd been in a different region of the country it would have meant something else.

    The hippies and commune dwellers seemed to be the only people that really cared that I personally knew, but it wasn't uncommon to hear anyone say "I need to clean up my diet". And we all knew they meant start eating more whole foods.

    I have heard people say "I need to clean up my diet," but that was never seen as the same thing as eliminating processed food (some of which, I've already mentioned, were seen as part of a healthier diet) and it was a distinct thing from "clean eating" (which I've only heard in the past ten years or so).

    Processing a food wasn't seen, in and of itself, as removing value from it. Sometimes it was just a way to make storing it or eating it easier.

    Were some processed foods not seen as part of a healthful diet? Of course. But it wasn't inherent to their processing, it was because the processing method chosen removed too much nutritional value or the food wasn't nutrient-dense to begin with.

    This is definitely true.

    Part of my childhood was in Alaska, and believe me we ate canned vegetables a good bit of the year (and bemoaned the unavailability or, in-season elsewhere, high cost of vegetables and fruit in general -- my mother grew up on a farm in Washington and my dad spent part of his childhood on a farm in Iowa, so they knew what they were missing), but it was always assumed that they were vegetables, so good, period. The idea that they were processed so bad was not an issue.

    Sure, boxed mac and cheese was considered a treat food, or brownies from a mix, but because of what the food involved, not because processed or not. That seems to me a much more recent thing.
  • kimny72
    kimny72 Posts: 16,027 Member
    WinoGelato wrote: »
    Did OP ever come back and clarify why he or she was trying to know if something was processed or not?

    No? Ok in that case, since we are just chatting about various processed foods, can someone explain why Hamburger Helper gets such a bad rap? It was a staple in my house growing up (wagon wheel was my favorite) and I cook it for my family occasionally. It's ground beef, dried pasta, and dehydrated sauce. I usually add frozen spinach. What is it about the fact that it comes in a box and has some hard to pronounce ingredients that makes it something I should apparently feel guilty for feeding my children... even though they enjoy it and eat with no complaints (a big victory in my book)?

    For me, the talking hand on the box creeps me out to the point I assume it's Satan's choice for dinner.

    As someone who grew up eating Rice a Roni, Oscar Meyer bologna, and Chef Boyardee, I'm going to guess - Sugar! Chemakillz! Cancer Stuff! But I've never been technically overweight and have perfect blood work in my 40s, so what do I know :)
  • VeronicaA76
    VeronicaA76 Posts: 1,116 Member
    If your going by the definition of "processed". Anything that has been altered is processed. This includes: milk, roasted nuts, peanut butter, baked potato (cooking is processing).
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    katadx wrote: »
    Processed foods are not evil, but I do think there are a few general categories most people think of when they think of processed food.

    For instance, this is what most imagine when someone says 'processed' food:
    sw_04_18_product_devilsfood.png

    And again, I think of the foods I eat or the foods I grew up on, many of which are processed, but most of which are not the specific processed foods that most people who claim they are giving up processed foods mean. If I don't eat Snackwells or Kraft or whatever, why would I "give them up" or even think about them as significant to my diet.

    In my diet, some processed foods are also not super nutritious (i.e., ice cream), but NOT because they are processed, and others are chosen by me because I think they help me meet my goals (i.e., smoked salmon, plain greek yogurt).

    Given how broad the category "processed" is and that it's not being processed that makes treat foods treat foods (vs. the backbone of your regular meals, ideally), I don't understand the current obsession with processed foods.

    I don't know the history of the gym usage, so maybe that's what I'm missing, but most who show up on MFP talking about the evils of processed foods while consuming protein powder likely do not either.

    I am also another who understands "clean up my diet" as meaning "improve it" or "reduce the junk," and not anything to do with "clean eating" which is a much more recent popular usage, IME.
  • VeronicaA76
    VeronicaA76 Posts: 1,116 Member
    cmtigger wrote: »
    As most have already stated opinions may vary on what is processed and what is not. In my opinion if you didn't pick it, grow it, raise it or it comes with a label it probably processed in some way. Depending on where you live it is getting harder and harder to find true unprocessed or chemically treated food.

    I kind of prefer my food treated with dihydrogen monoxide.

    (I'm not afraid of many other chemicals either. )

    Same here, adding sodium chloride is also a way to treat many of my foods.

    Be careful with DHMO, do you know how many people die every year directly related to being overwhelmed by that stuff. Also, everyone that has incorporated that into thier diet, dies.
  • JustRobby1
    JustRobby1 Posts: 674 Member
    A handful of braindead types suddenly becoming paranoid of food preservatives, binding agents, etc (many of which are naturally occurring) a half century later because it is trendy does not make them harmful or unhealthy. Perhaps just as important to keep in mind for the purposes of many people here, they have no bearing whatsoever on weight loss potential.
  • Christine_72
    Christine_72 Posts: 16,051 Member
    I had to google what "hamburger helper" is, as I've never seen it here, not that i've looked, so may be available. This article gives a run down on what it is, the author is a tad alarmist and also brings up the stupid stay out of the middle aisles of the grocery store rule.

    https://newfoodview.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/whats-the-deal-with-hamburger-helper/
  • mathjulz
    mathjulz Posts: 5,526 Member
    WinoGelato wrote: »
    Did OP ever come back and clarify why he or she was trying to know if something was processed or not?

    No? Ok in that case, since we are just chatting about various processed foods, can someone explain why Hamburger Helper gets such a bad rap? It was a staple in my house growing up (wagon wheel was my favorite) and I cook it for my family occasionally. It's ground beef, dried pasta, and dehydrated sauce. I usually add frozen spinach. What is it about the fact that it comes in a box and has some hard to pronounce ingredients that makes it something I should apparently feel guilty for feeding my children... even though they enjoy it and eat with no complaints (a big victory in my book)?

    About 10 years ago I was at about the worst in my MDD. Being able to cook up a box of Hamburger Helper and some frozen veggies for my three young kids was, many days, a major accomplishment. If I'd had to make noodles and sauce from scratch, it never would have happened. It's not my favorite meals, but convenience foods filled our needs for a time.
  • cmtigger
    cmtigger Posts: 1,450 Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    rybo wrote: »
    Oh how I long for the days pre-internet when everyone understood what processed foods were and didn't get trivial, nit picky and pedantic about such things.

    I grew up pre-internet, and we knew cheese and yogurt and bread were processed foods. We didn't go on about it, since who cares. We also used other (more specific) terms for what people now seem to think are the only processed foods, like "fast food," or "restaurant food," or "TV dinners," or "frozen meals," or "convenience items."

    Oddly enough, during my childhood we both ate plenty of processed foods (pretty similar to the kinds of processed foods I eat regularly now, plus some other things I don't really eat), and didn't have some bizarre idea that being "processed" meant something was inherently bad for you or "processed" meant anything more than that it was, you know, processed in some way. Natural peanut butter is processed as is smoked salmon or bacon or a Hungry Man TV dinner or some frozen egg rolls. Are they all the same? No, they are quite different.

    This may just be my personal experience, but I only heard "processed" being used as a synonym for "unhealthy," "bad," "fast food," or "convenience foods" once "clean eating" became a commonly used phrase. When I was younger, I never heard it used that way -- it seemed that most people understood, without dwelling on it too much, that cheese and canned beans and bread were processed.

    When I was young (60's - 70's) clean eating was commonly used and everyone seemed to know it meant natural whole foods. Processed foods was the opposite and generally thought of as not as healthy by those who touted clean eating (which weren't many that I knew other than my older sister and her hippie friends).

    I never heard the term clean eating in my childhood in the 70's and 80's, and I grew up down the street from a natural foods coop. It was "Whole Foods" and "natural foods." And this was in Northern California.

    People had mixed feelings on highly processed foods, but overall it wasn't called clean eating. My dad might have made offhand jokes about "hippie food" or "commie food", but it was just normal eating. (And my dad's comments were jokes- except when my mom fed us yogurt, he just didn't understand that stuff.)
  • Lounmoun
    Lounmoun Posts: 8,427 Member
    WinoGelato wrote: »
    Did OP ever come back and clarify why he or she was trying to know if something was processed or not?

    No? Ok in that case, since we are just chatting about various processed foods, can someone explain why Hamburger Helper gets such a bad rap? It was a staple in my house growing up (wagon wheel was my favorite) and I cook it for my family occasionally. It's ground beef, dried pasta, and dehydrated sauce. I usually add frozen spinach. What is it about the fact that it comes in a box and has some hard to pronounce ingredients that makes it something I should apparently feel guilty for feeding my children... even though they enjoy it and eat with no complaints (a big victory in my book)?

    I don't like boxed pasta meals. The sauces taste weird to me.
    I don't think they are bad for you just the lowest type of food I would choose most days in terms of flavor. I eat cheap frozen pizza sometimes and survive.
  • cmtigger
    cmtigger Posts: 1,450 Member
    JustRobby1 wrote: »
    A handful of braindead types suddenly becoming paranoid of food preservatives, binding agents, etc (many of which are naturally occurring) a half century later because it is trendy does not make them harmful or unhealthy. Perhaps just as important to keep in mind for the purposes of many people here, they have no bearing whatsoever on weight loss potential.

    Fears of food additives has been going on since the early 1900's at the minimum. There is a book about it, called "White Bread."
  • cjsacto
    cjsacto Posts: 1,421 Member
    edited September 2017
    I don't recall my mom using the term processed except for "processed cheese," meaning Kraft cheese slices or Cheez Whiz, which we never had. My friends called my mom a "health nut" and in the 70s we were the only family I knew eating carob, tofu, raw honey, seaweed wraps, brown rice, or even wheat bread or unsweetened breakfast cereal. I was the only kid in school not allowed red punch because my mom read that red dye #2 was bad for you - and she was right. She didn't let me have saccharine, absolutely right again. No bacon because of nitrates, right again. (We weren't vegetarians, though I am now.)

    Whether you throw around the term "processed" or "clean eating" or use other terms, people have been rightfully wary of food additives for a long time. Some may be neutral, some we'll find out later are harmful. Most are unnecessary and we don't need to disparage people trying to avoid them.
  • 7elizamae
    7elizamae Posts: 758 Member
    I don't have a solid definition worth of MFP approval.

    But, I know I ate a LOT of it when I was a child. We ate Ding Dongs. Ho-Ho's (yup), Fruity Pebbles, Cookie Crisp Cereal, Nestle Quik, Sunny Delight juice, Pop Tarts, TV Dinners, Kool Ade, Cap'n Crunch, Spaghettios, white bread, Velveeta, Pringles, chips, pretzels, purple/orange/green/yellow pop from big plastic bottles, margarine, Jiffy peanut butter, toaster strudel (that was yummy), refrigerated biscuits out of a can, cheese you could spray out of a can, and more.

    We ate it all.

    We are now all in our 40s. None of us is overweight. No one has cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, or any chronic disease.