CRAP:The Illusion & Delusion of Healthy Processed Foods

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CRAP:The Illusion & Delusion of Healthy Processed Foods

Postby JeffN » Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:11 am

CRAP:The Illusion & Delusion of Healthy Packagedd/Processed Foods
Jeff Novick, MS, RDN

We hear a lot about the evils of processed foods but not all processed foods are harmful and in fact, many are highly beneficial. Many people tout that they eat only "unprocessed" foods but that is not only impossible, even if it was, it is not necessary. Realize that the majority of all the food we eat, unless you grow it in your backyard and eat it immediately after picking it without washing it, slicing it, cutting it or cooking it, is processed. Processing is anything we do to the food.

This is why in my thread, "The Five Pillars of Healthy Eating - A Common Sense Approach To Nutrition"


I say for principle #2) - Minimally Processed - Enjoy foods as close to "as grown in nature" with minimal processing that does not detract from the nutritional value &/or add in any harmful components.

This is what we want and pretty much sums it up. The issue is not processing, per see, but the type and extent of the processing. And whether or not it "detracts from the nutritional value and/or add in any harmful components."

I also don't use the term "whole" as it is confusing and has little meaning. It has no standard definition and is used in the promotion of highly processed foods and supplements. To me, it can be as confusing and misused as the word natural.

In addition, if you are familiar with my teachings then you will know that, in order to help clarify this issue, I have a list of the 10 Healthiest Packaged Foods, which, are all foods I highly recommend. ... Foods.html

I also have a label reading system that teaches how to find the other healthiest foods outside of the above 10, amongst the more processed foods. I do recommend that these foods, outside the 10 above, make up a small part of your diet, as they will have some added salt, sugar, and/or fat etc. ... 3112881818

So, while we are on the topic, lets take it further.

In looking at processed foods, there are several approaches to differentiating the type of processing.

The US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Health and Human Services, Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee 2010 report defines processed foods as:

"Any food other than a raw agricultural commodity, including any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to washing, cleaning, milling, cutting, chopping, heating, pasteurizing, blanching, cooking, canning, freezing, drying, dehydrating, mixing, packaging, or other procedures that alter the food from its natural state. Processing also may include the addition of other ingredients to the food, such as preservatives, flavors, nutrients, and other food additives or substances approved for use in food products, such as salt, sugars, and fats. Processing of foods, including the addition of ingredients, may reduce, increase, or leave unaffected the nutritional characteristics of raw agricultural commodities."

This is the International Food Information Council Foundation's "Continuum of Processed Foods: Categories and Examples." ... tabid=1398

● Minimally processed foods
- Washed, packaged fruits and vegetables

● Foods processed for preservation
- Canned/frozen fruits and vegetables

● Mixtures of combined ingredients
- Cake mixes, salad dressings

● Ready-to-eat foods
- Breakfast cereals, lunch meats, carbonated beverages

● Convenience
- Frozen meals/pizzas

I found the work of Dr Carlos Monteiro, a professor at the University of São Paulo, Brazil and Head of the University’s Centre for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition, much better, and am incorporating and applying many of his ideas to the WFPB world. ... .-monteiro

Basically, he divides food into 4 categories.

1) Unprocessed/Minimally Processed Foods -

Does not change the nutritional properties of the food or add in any harmful components. This is what should be the majority of our diet and, for many years, was.

An example is an apple or applesauce made from just apples.

2) Ingredients, Extracts, Powders, etc -

These are extracted, refined or purified substance such as oils, solid fats, proteins, sugars, syrups, juices, flours and salt etc that come from minimally processed foods. These are often depleted of nutrients and provide little beyond calories. These do not normally exist in nature as "food" and so in the old days, we rarely ate these, as is but added small amounts of these to unprocessed/minimally processed foods. They are not health promoting but in small amounts are not harmful. They can be vegan, raw, organic, GMO free.

An example is salt or sugar and if we added some of either or both of these ourselves to the same apple or applesauce (or if a food company did).

3) Ultra (Overly) Processed Foods

Food "products" made from ingredients, extracts, substances, cheap parts or remnants of animal food with little or no whole foods. These also do not exist in nature and are not health promoting. Minimal amounts are harmless. They are also often known as Fast Food or Convenience Food and they can be vegan, raw, organic, or GMO free.

An example would be convenient store apple pie like this one. ... B0023UVT7I

4) Premium Ultra (Overly) Processed Foods

These are Ultra Processed foods that have been minimally modified to give the illusion and delusion of being healthy/healthier when compared with ‘regular’ Ultra Processed Foods. Often they will contain less fat, or no trans fats, or less sugar, less salt, more added micronutrients, or sometimes a little more whole foods such as fruits and nuts but are not any healthier. These are being marketed to be as healthy as minimally processed foods and are the most harmful because of this marketing illusion and delusion of being healthy

An example is the above apple pie but slightly modified so it can be sold as vegan, organic, GMO-free, that is also lower in fat (or carb, or sugar) with added bits of acai berry, flax seed, etc and sold to be as *healthy* with *as much vitamin c and antioxidants as eating 2 real apples and a bowl of blueberries.*

The main problems with Ultra Processed Foods and Premium Ultra Processed foods are

- Calorie Dense
- High in fat, saturated fat, trans-fats, sugar & sodium
- Low in nutrients, fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytochemical, fiber, water

- Cheaper to manufacture
- Cheaper to buy

- Come in super-sized packages and portions

- Late night & 24/7 outlets
- Vending Machines
- - streets, gas stations, hospitals, schools, etc

- They now make up about 2/3's to 3/4's (or more) of the average Americans intake.


Highly processed foods dominate US grocers

As Carlos Monteiro said, “Their high energy density, hyper-palatability, their marketing in large and super-sizes, and aggressive and sophisticated advertising, all undermine the normal processes of appetite control, cause over-consumption, and therefore cause obesity, and diseases associated with obesity.”

Increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods and likely impact on human health: evidence from Brazil. Public Health Nutrition: 14(1), 5–13 doi:10.1017/S1368980010003241xt

So, the majority of our food should come from unprocessed/minimally processed foods. Like with my 10 Healthiest Packaged Foods, these foods may even be frozen or in a box or a can and have nothing in them but the food itself. To that, most of us can add some of the ingredients, extracts (i.e., salt, sugar, etc) etc in small amounts without harming ourselves. We should greatly limit any of the Ultra processed foods and those are the ones that I give my label reading guidelines for. Premium ultra processed foods products are just the same junk as ultra processed food products, that are made to look healthier and cost more. Caveat Emptor.

As Carlos Monteiro also said, "The most important factor now, when considering food, nutrition and public health, is not nutrients, and is not foods, so much as what is done to foodstuffs and the nutrients originally contained in them, before they are purchased and consumed. That is to say, the big issue is food processing—or, to be more precise, the nature, extent and purpose of processing, and what happens to food and to us as a result of processing."

I agree as these ultra and premium ultra processed foods have invaded the WFPB and Vegan world and are becoming more and more prevalent and are being marketed and being seen as healthy.

Remember, "Cut The CRAP: Calorie Rich and Processed Foods"

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The Myth of Moderation Pt 3: Is Your Diet Exceptional?

Postby JeffN » Fri Aug 15, 2014 2:48 pm

The Myth of Moderation Pt 3: Is Your Diet Exceptional?
Jeff Novick, MS, RDN ... ional.html

An exception to your diet is considered an exception because it is something you rarely do &/or makes up a very small part of your diet. If you start doing it, or several of them, every day and/or at every meal and it (or they) starts making up a larger part or even a main part of your diet, it is no longer an exception. This can happen even to those who are following a WFPB diet.

So, let look at the impact of few items that are often considered as exceptions and what would happen if you added in just a few of these.

- A tbsp of oil is ~120 calories

- A tbsp of sugar is ~50 calories

- An ounce of chocolate is ~150 calories

- A 5 oz glass of wine is ~120 calories

- A serving of a refined grain is ~80-100 calories

- A small piece of vegan pie, cake or a cookie can easily be 100-150 calories (or more).

The total of the above is over 620-690 calories which would be over 1/3 of an 1800 calorie diet, over 1/4 of a 2400 calorie diet. And that is for just one serving of each. If you have 2 servings of each, you are around 1300 calories which is over 2/3's of an 1800 calorie diet and over 1/2 of a 2400 calorie diet.

As you can see, it is very easy for these exceptions to add up. And, if you add in a few more of these "exceptions," the exceptions have become the rule, and the healthy foods have become the exception and while you may have an exceptional diet, it is not healthy.

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Re: CRAP:The Illusion & Delusion of Healthy Processed Foods

Postby JeffN » Fri Jun 05, 2015 6:20 am

Some responses to the above post on "Is Your Diet Exceptional?"

"I have fallen in to this trap. Thank you for stating the obvious because sometimes we don't want to see it."

"I sadly know this all too well. Plant-based for over a year. Have allowed sugar, oil and cheese back in as "exceptions." The sugar especially has now become the rule, and I am well on my way to gaining back all the weight that I lost ... for the second time. Ugh. I have to get back on track."

"I struggle constantly - I only have about 15 pounds to lose but they hung around for over a decade. I've been pretty much on the normal program but with slip ups - a glass of wine here and there, large full-fat soy lattes 3 or 4 times a week, a big handful of dried fruit on my oats, tahini in the lemon sauce I make over vegies, dark chocolate and vegan cakes and cookies here and there. So the reasons I'm still carrying the extra weight is right there. You're right Veronica, there are no exceptions!"

"This is a great reminder to me that the reason i have gained 20 pounds is because i have been making exceptions to my food choices."

"Soooo true! I spent a lot of the summer treating myself to "exceptions" and gained 8 pounds! Egad! Did a Mary's Mini for 3 days and went "basic to McBasics" and kept track of calories. I've lost 8 pounds in 11 days, back where I started when summer break began. Whew! I feel like I dodged a bullet! Losing weight *used* to be so hard for me - but now that I know "it's the food," I know what to do. Thanks Jeff Novick for the reminder about "exceptions." It can be a slippery slope. I was eating nuts and chocolate covered dried fruit - what I thought were "innocent" indulgences. But they added up (sadly). Lesson learned!"

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Re: CRAP:The Illusion & Delusion of Healthy Processed Foods

Postby JeffN » Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:46 pm

Calorie Density is the answer.

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Study Reveals That Eating 'In Moderation' Is A Fool's Errand
It sounds like wise, low-key advice, but it's actually total B.S.

10/06/2016 4:15
Anna Almendrala
Senior Healthy Living Editor ... udy-finds/

"Moderation" is such a meaningless nutritional concept that it could actually hurt people trying to lose or maintain weight.

"Everything in moderation" is a common piece of healthy eating advice from slim and sexy celebs, dietitians and other lifestyle gurus. It's a call that's thousands of years old: The ancient Greek poet Hesiod wrote the phrase “moderation is best in all things” in his poem Work and Days, written around 700 BCE, and other philosophers and writers have echoed the maxim ever since.

But just because it’s a saying that has persisted throughout history doesn’t mean it’s right, helpful or useful.

While it sounds like wise advice for anyone who wants a low-key approach to healthy eating, the term is problematic because “moderation” is left up to each individual to define for themselves. This meaninglessness could harm people who are trying to maintain or lose weight, according to new research from scientists at the University of Georgia and Duke University.

Without a firm portion suggestion, like the government’s definition of "moderate" drinking for women as one drink a day, a "moderate" serving of something becomes a completely squishy concept that depends on a person’s eating habits and dietary preference. As a result, it can be co-opted by food companies to communicate skewed nutritional advice.

What's more, the concept plays a psychological trick on the dieter. It turns out that the more you like a food, the bigger your definition of a “moderate” serving will be, explained lead study author Michelle vanDellen, a self-regulation and self-control researcher at the University of Georgia.

"The more you like a food, the more of it you think you can eat 'in moderation,'" she said in a statement.

So what should you do instead?

While VanDellen didn't dismiss the concept of "moderation" outright, she did express skepticism about the contemporary backlash against dieting. Since we're not good at estimating portion size or estimating how much we actually eat, she said following explicit guidelines may actually help -- especially if a person wants to continue eating "in moderation."

"I strongly suspect that willingness to hold oneself accountable (for the long haul) in some form or fashion might allow someone to follow either a diet or the ‘eat in moderation’ advice," vanDellen wrote.

Other researchers who have studied moderation and weight gain are even more doubtful about the maxim's ability to help people get healthier. A 2015 study of nearly 7,000 people found that eating a broad and diverse array of foods was linked to weight gain — a 120 percent increase in waist circumference, on average, after five years. On the other hand, study participants who ate a limited amount of mostly healthy foods had the best outcomes.

These researchers noted that the results "do not support the notion that ‘eating everything in moderation’ leads to greater diet quality or better metabolic health."

People are really bad at estimating portions

Three different experiments in the new study involved a mix of 504 in-person participants and online respondents. They revealed that most people think the concept of "moderation" is larger than what a person should eat, but the size of a "moderate" portion is highly dependent on how much someone likes the food and how much of it they eat in their everyday life.

In other words, a “moderate” serving size tended to be whatever a person was already eating or drinking. This suggests that, compared to other messages about food, the concept of “moderation” isn’t an effective way to limit what people will eat.

All three experiments were theoretical in nature, in that the researchers didn’t observe people actually eating anything. VanDellen wrote that future research could pose these same questions but also evaluate actual eating habits and a person's relationship to moderate consumption. But despite this and other limitations, she still argued that the totality of the findings show that moderation is a highly individualized concept that isn’t likely to reduce consumption in any meaningful way.

Why this matters in the fight against obesity

VanDellen’s research makes the case that “moderation” should not count as a prevention tool in the fight against weight gain and obesity. Some weight loss authorities, like those behind the diet and activity tracker MyFitnessPal, have promoted the "moderation" concept to fight back against the notion that there are "good" and "bad" foods. Others, like Mother Jones journalist Kevin Drum, have settled on the moderation concept in the face of confusing and contradictory scientific research about nutrition.

Obesity continues to be a serious health issue in the U.S. Recent studies published this week in the journal JAMA confirm that obesity rates are continuing to increase for women and teens in general. In all, 35 percent of men and 40 percent of women are obese, and 17 percent of young people ages two to 19 are obese. Being obese puts a person more at risk for coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, infertility and metabolic syndrome.

“The results highlight that part of the reason moderation messages are so appealing -- their simplicity -- is part of the problem,” vanDellen concluded. “People are poor judges of moderate consumption."

Some food companies also use 'moderation' to their advantage

The inherent squishiness of the concept makes “moderation” exceptionally useful for the junk food and fast food companies competing for space in your stomach. VanDellen’s study notes that the Chick-fil-A to-go bag is printed with this handy piece of “advice”:

Moderation is Key: All foods can fit within a healthy diet if consumed in moderation. With appropriate portion sizes and physical activity, you can enjoy treats like our Frosted Lemonade.

Indeed, 19th century playwright Oscar Wilde’s take on this ancient wisdom reveals its inherent folly: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” In other words, moderation is for whatever you want, when you want it.
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Re: CRAP:The Illusion & Delusion of Healthy Processed Foods

Postby JeffN » Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:48 am

Ultraprocessed food consumption and risk of overweight and obesity: the University of Navarra Follow-Up (SUN) cohort study
October 12, 2016, doi: 10.3945/ ajcn.116.135004
Am J Clin Nutr November 2016, vol. 104 no. 5 1433-1440 ... 4.abstract


Ultraprocessed food consumption has increased in the past decade. Evidence suggests a positive association between ultraprocessed food consumption and the incidence of overweight and obesity. However, few prospective studies to our knowledge have investigated this potential relation in adults.

We evaluated the association between ultraprocessed food consumption and the risk of overweight and obesity in a prospective Spanish cohort, the SUN (University of Navarra Follow-Up) study.

We included 8451 middle-aged Spanish university graduates who were initially not overweight or obese and followed up for a median of 8.9 y. The consumption of ultraprocessed foods (defined as food and drink products ready to eat, drink, or heat and made predominantly or entirely from processed items extracted or refined from whole foods or synthesized in the laboratory) was assessed with the use of a validated semiquantitative 136-item food-frequency questionnaire. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate adjusted HRs and 95% CIs for incident overweight and obesity.

A total of 1939 incident cases of overweight and obesity were identified during follow-up. After adjustment for potential confounders, participants in the highest quartile of ultraprocessed food consumption were at a higher risk of developing overweight or obesity (adjusted HR: 1.26; 95% CI: 1.10, 1.45; P-trend = 0.001) than those in the lowest quartile of consumption.

Conclusions: Ultraprocessed food consumption was associated with a higher risk of overweight and obesity in a prospective cohort of Spanish middle-aged adult university graduates. Further longitudinal studies are needed to confirm our results.
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Re: CRAP:The Illusion & Delusion of Healthy Processed Foods

Postby JeffN » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:55 am

How ultra-processed food took over your shopping basket
It’s cheap, attractive and convenient, and we eat it every day – it’s difficult not to. But is ultra-processed food making us ill and driving the global obesity crisis?
By Bee Wilson
The Guardian
Wed 12 Feb 2020 ... s-monteiro

For as long as we believed that single nutrients were the main cause of poor diets, industrial foods could be endlessly tweaked to fit with the theory of the day. When fat was seen as the devil, the food industry gave us a panoply of low-fat products. The result of the sugar taxes around the world has been a raft of new artificially sweetened drinks. But if you accept the argument that processing is itself part of the problem, all of this tweaking and reformulation becomes so much meaningless window-dressing.

An ultra-processed food can be reformulated in countless ways, but the one thing it can’t be transformed into is an unprocessed food. Hall remains hopeful that there may turn out to be some way to adjust the manufacture of ultra-processed foods to make them less harmful to health. A huge number of people on low incomes, he notes, are relying on these “relatively inexpensive tasty things” for daily sustenance. But he is keenly aware that the problems of nutrition cannot be cured by ever more sophisticated processing. “How do you take an Oreo and make it non-ultra-processed?” he asks. “You can’t!”

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