Everyone has heard the phrase “processed foods” by now, but many people don’t really know what life would be like without them. Here’s a hint: Your health, mood, and appearance will improve—dramatically!
Processed foods are chemical-laden, addictive foods usually sold in jars, boxes, and bags, and armies of well-paid food scientists make it their missions to come up with recipes that appeal to your taste buds, even if it means causing havoc to your health. “These foods are so hard to say no to eat because they are loaded with added sugars and fats, which physically change how they feel inside the mouth,” explains Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN. “The altered texture and taste actually make the body crave more of it.”
What’s even scarier is that something called “ultra-processed food” exists, which is like the worst of the worst. According to a study published in BMJ Open, these kinds of products make up almost 60 percent of our daily calories and 90 percent of the added sugar we consume.
While you may blame your chatty office or rowdy kiddos for your headaches, poor eating habits may be the real culprits. “Some people who have terrible migraines might be able to improve the severity and frequency by eating less boxed goods,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition. “A lot of the processed foods are actually triggers for migraines.”
You’ll Be Able To Lose Weight More Easily
“There are a lot of extra calories in processed foods that are just wasteful,” says Smith. Every time you break for a snack or sit down to a meal, it’s an opportunity to fuel and nourish your body. Processed foods are often lacking in fiber and nutrients that help fill you up, which can lead to overeating later. Opt for whole foods as often as possible to fuel yourself more efficiently.
Your Hair Will Be Healthier
Worried about thinning hair? Dull hair? Loss of hair? Whatever your concern is, food can easily be part of the answer to your luscious locks. When you consistently opt for processed snacks, you rob your body of things like omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for healthy hair and rarely found in packaged, processed products. The healthy fats found in things like walnuts help promote hair strength and sheen.
Fewer Mood Swings
If you ever get crabby for no good reason, take a closer look at your diet. All those processed chemicals can affect mood because the ‘foods’ aren’t actually giving your body any adequate nutrition; you’re getting toxic ingredients, instead. MSG can leave you depressed, saturated fats make you foggy, sugar and syrups cause crazy energy crashes; the list goes on and on.
Your Skin Will Improve
An expensive prescription from your dermatologist might do wonders for some people, but the answer to a better complexion may come from a visit with a nutritionist. Numerous studies have come out in the past year pointing to everything from dairy to zinc deficiencies for being the reason some people breakout. “Better skin is one of the major benefits of forgoing processed foods,” says Smith. “A lot of the preservatives and ingredients found in processed foods can often get in the way of clear, healthy skin.”
You Wont Age As Fast
You won’t actually be able to stop the clock. But by trading in all the high-fructose corn syrup, additives, artificial colors, and other sketchy ingredients, you’ll at least get out of the fast lane toward feeling and looking older than you are.
Your Nails Will Be Stronger
A nutrient-rich diet not only strengthens your muscles and immunity but also helps fortify your nails. Regularly eating processed foods in place of whole foods can leave your nails feeling and looking brittle. For strong nails, reach for foods high in protein and rich in the vitamin biotin; eggs and almonds are great sources of both.
Ability To Control Cravings With Ease
Most processed foods have been formulated and designed to taste as appealing as possible and get you addicted to them in the process. High-fructose corn syrup actually activates the part of your brain that gets addicted to things like drugs—and it can be found in tons of things from ketchup to cereal. Plus, some people have cravings because their bodies are literally deficient and need certain nutrients.
You’ll Actually Want To Work Out
When you eat a lot “bad” foods, your body constantly feels either spiked with energy for a very short amount of time (usually only when you’re eating) and then sluggish the rest of the time. Sugary cereals, cheese-dusted crackers, and instant noodles don’t offer your body much fuel to run on and cutting out processed foods can be life-changing because you’ll notice your body feels completely different. When choosing a snack, go for one higher in fiber, healthy fats and protein, and one that doesn’t have a shelf life that’s several months long.
Cellulite Will Fade
Although genes play a huge role, you can reduce the appearance of cellulite by choosing to cut out processed foods since most of them have high counts of sodium and sugar. Deli meats, for example, cause water retention that makes your dimpled skin look even worse and the sugar in soda weakens your skin’s elasticity and collagen, making cellulite easier to see.
Your Hormones Will Balance
From birth control meds to the natural aging process, there are already enough things out there messing with our hormones. When you ditch processed food, it can dramatically help you feel more balanced. While saturated and trans fats should be avoided, regular inclusion of healthy monounsaturated fats can help balance hormones—specifically the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin.
You’ll Boost Your Immune System
“Eating too many processed foods hurts our ability to fight colds because you’re not getting enough nutrition to fuel the immune system,” says Smith. Most fruits and vegetables are chock-full of immune-boosting vitamins and probiotics, which your body requires to build up its defense system.