Could the foods that you thought were healthy actually be making you fat…


Processed foods

Although I live in a small country (population 4.5 million) we have one of the highest obesity rates in the developed world. But I don’t think I am alone here.  Your country may also feature high up on the obesity chart as we are all exposed to unhealthy high calorie foods no matter where we live in the world.

It seems that many people believe that many of the foods they regularly purchase are healthy but this is not so and I would bet that all of us have foods in our kitchen cupboards that are on this newly published list of foods to avoid. These are all foods heavy in calories but light on nutrients and we do not need them to be healthy.

Even if you are not overweight they contribute nothing, nada, zero to our health in any way, shape or form as they are empty, dead foods devoid of nutritional value. Many of them are prepared using ultra high temperature cooking methods or are high in unhealthy man-made fats and sugars and salt. They all have a large amount of energy (calories) compared to their essential nutrient content.  The list includes the usual suspects such as cookies, cakes, doughnuts and soda pop drinks, but some of the foods red-flagged are less obvious.

Things such as muesli bars are often viewed as healthy but can be higher in calories, fat and sugar than the more obvious cookies and biscuits without much nutritional value. This is just one classic example of how people who are overweight can be misled into thinking they are eating healthy foods when in fact they are not.

One of the foods mentioned that caused the most intense feedback was a very popular breakfast cereal called “NutraGrain” that is marketed here in New Zealand as an “Iron Man’ health food for athletes and children, for growing strong muscles. Well, it turns out that this product is made up of THIRTY PERCENT SUGAR which of course is not something any child should be fed in the name of ‘health’. They are major sponsors of children’s triathlons here, so they have credibility to market their unhealthy dead breakfast food.

If you are eating the wrong types of foods and too much of them (and may not be aware of it) this is going to make it so much harder to keep your slim, trim, healthy (and well) body. If losing weight is something you desire you need to understand that these foods may be disrupting hormone balances in your body leading you to overeat from the ‘impossible to resist’ food cravings they create.

The high calorie nature of these foods together with the chemical additives in them from processing override the delicate appetite regulation hormonal systems of the human body causing the appetite dial to be turned up way higher than it should be.

These foods can also decrease your metabolic rate (the speed your body’s engine is running at) and throw your fat burning/fat storing hormones ‘out of whack’. So, they are bad news if getting or staying slim is important to you as well as your overall health and wellness.

The problem is not only that these foods contribute NOTHING to your health and in fact they can make you sick, just as important is the fact that they crowd out the healthier options you should/could be eating. This means you are missing out on nutrients like quality protein, good carbohydrates and healthy fats along with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from fresh quality foods.

OK so what are they I hear you saying – hit us with this list?

The needn’t foods:

Alcoholic drinks, biscuits, crackers, cakes, chocolate, soda or any sugary drinks, potato/corn/vegetable chips, energy/sports drinks, flavoured milk, canned fruit, fried food,  jam, margarine, muesli bars, nuts roasted in fat, pastries, powdered fruit type drinks, packet soups, fruit juice, sugar added to anything, packaged breakfast cereals, pre-packaged “diet” dinners, protein bars (candy bars in disguise), overly processed meal replacements, soymilk, tofu or “veggie burgers”, rice cakes, pasta, both normal or diet ice cream, diet desserts and other diet or “lite” food items, low-fat food, low-carb foods, soybean, corn or canola oil, sweetened yoghurt products, “deli’ luncheon meats/sausage/salami

Wow, by now you may be thinking, “Well that’s got rid of most of the stuff in my kitchen cupboards, what on earth am I supposed to eat, there’s little left?”

Well don’t worry; there are still plenty of food choices left. The only way to get away from all of these heavily processed, man-made foods is to try and eat as much ‘clean’ food as you possibly can.

This means eating things that don’t come in a box, can or packet. These types of foods are easily spotted; they live in the outside isles of the supermarket and don’t generally have a food label. Things like an orange, a bunch of spinach, a piece of grass fed beef, a carrot, a piece of fish from the ocean, an apple, a sweet potato, a handful of raw nuts, free range poultry and eggs – well, you get the picture.

And yes, you do have to get your butt back into the kitchen and cook most of these from scratch but that is a small price to pay for quality food that has not been destroyed by high temperature food processing and all manner of added chemicals.

We are all victim to the tempting experience that a stroll down your grocery store’s aisles can be. Rows and rows of delicious food all wrapped up in colorful bags, packets and boxes, all begging you to give them a try with creative graphics, and catchy names. But their fancy packaging is hiding the fact that they are nutritional time bombs just waiting to make you fat and sick.

Good food, delicious food that’s appealing to the eye, and convenient to boot. Anything that yummy has to be nourishing, right? But the truth is, the very food you have in your cabinets is processed.

Let’s take a look at what ‘processed’ really means.

If it’s boxed, bagged, canned or jarred and has a list of ingredients on the label, it’s processed.

Methods used to process foods include:

  •  Canning
  • Freezing
  • Refrigeration
  • Dehydration
  • Aspetic processing (food made sterile by high temperatures)

Processed foods have been altered from their natural state for “safety” and convenience reasons. And scary as it seems, about 90 percent of the money we spend on food is used to buy processed items. You could call them ‘edible food like substances”.

We may wonder why we need to process food when it is good the way it is. Processed foods are more convenient – that’s what it comes down to. It’s so much easier to bake a cake by opening up a box, pouring out a dry mix, and adding an egg and some oil than starting from scratch. Eating lunch five minutes after pouring hot water into a carton makes preparation time for lunch a breeze.

But convenience isn’t the only thing you get when you eat processed foods. There’s a whole list of ingredients that manufacturers add to:

  • Color – It gives your orange soda that neon glow
  • Stabilize – So your gravy isn’t watery
  • Emulsify – Who says oil and water can’t mix?
  • Bleach – Let’s disinfect and deodorize
  • Texturize – Nothing’s worse than soggy cereal…
  • Soften – It’s as if the ice cream was churned twice
  • Preserve – What if you want to eat the cupcake six months from now?
  • Sweeten – Sugar is sweet but saccharin and aspartame is sweeter
  • Hide Odors – Do you really want to smell the fish paste in your instant Thai curry?
  • Flavor – Nothing like having the sweet taste of strawberries all year round

A food label with a long list of ingredients is not something that you really want to eat is it?

As an example here is a list of ingredients from a milkshake made with strawberry flavouring from a fast food restaurant:

Amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamylvalerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl Nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerbate, heliotropin, hydroxphrenyl-2butanone(10% solution to alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbone, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl slicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobulyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, sore rum ether, g-undecalctone, vanillin, and solvent3

Looks delicious, doesn’t it? Not! And this is just a small sampling of the SIX THOUSAND approved chemicals used to process foods and we don’t really want ANY of them sickening us and shortening our lives I’m sure you’ll agree.

If you are not sure about what foods to eat I have written an eBook setting it all out for you in a simple way. It’s called “21 Days to Healthy Eating” and leads you through a week of upgrading your breakfasts, a week on lunches and a week on dinners.

So, by the time you get through the 21 Days you know exactly what to eat for each meal plus snacks and ways to prepare it. Eating healthy and good nutrition are the foundation of a healthy slim, well, energetic body right through one’s life span and it doesn’t need to be complicated at all.

Even if you eliminate most of these processed foods and eat 80% ‘clean’ and 20% processed that is a huge improvement and quite doable rather than the other way around eating 80% processed and 20% ‘clean’. This is a recipe for poor health somewhere down the track.

Go here    to reverse those eating habits that are causing your body’s hormones to become unbalanced which could impact your health/weight both short-term and long-term. When you are eating the right foods in the right quantities you will discover
how you can become that ‘bursting with energy’ slim, healthy person with a huge zest for life and living like you were meant to be.


  1. simon barker says

    just to let you know,I was and probably still are overweight,I started a Hurcome diet last October after trying many without success, I have cut out all carbs , processed foods and wheat products and now only consume pork, chicken, fish and fresh vegetables,I have even cut down on my fruit intake to two apples a week.I have stopped drinking alcohol and will only drink decaf tea/coffee or plain water from the tap as a lot of bottled water cannot be trusted.Result I lost just over three stone in 16 weeks plus 3″ from my waist.the problem now is that I have stopped losing weight without changing my diet in any way,why is this??to get to my target weight for my height 6’2″ I need to lose a further 4 stone,how is this to be achieved

  2. Hi… nicely written article! Great info presented in an easy to understand way. I would love to publish this on my website with your permission. Please check out my site and let me know if you would like to do this. I would, of course, link back to your website and credit you as the author.

  3. Hi Simon

    From what you have said particularly what you said about carbs “I have cut out all carbs” means you are NOT eating a balanced diet. Your body has given some of its fat stores up but from now on you need to get things right (balanced) if further weight is to be lost..Good carbohydrates come from all types of vegetables and each meal you eat should contain a protein source and good carbs from vegetables. A good ratio is 50/50. By cutting out carbs. you are denying your body valuable nutrition and it will hold on to its fat stores rather than give them up. Energy for proper exercise (muscle building and maintaining) is vital so you can put some EFFORT into your program. This will increase your fat burning metabolism so you can burn more fuel. You won’t have much energy without carbohydrates. I personally eat 100-150 grams per day but strength train 3 times a week.

    Think about adding good things in to your eating plan – rather than cutting things out. Only by working with your body rather than against it will it comply with your wishes.


  4. There are some foods where having a whole list of ingredients is a good thing – check out these superfood packs check this out!

  5. Hi Cynkay

    Thank you for your nice comments. Much appreciated.

    By all means publish the article on your website. The link back would be wonderful.

    Thank you for your support.


  6. What an enlightening article about the foods that we have become programed to eat. With all the advertising that food manufactures use, it is no wonder that we blindly follow what they suggest. We must learn to read the ingredient label on each package and educate ourselves to what is truly healthy for us. Your article goes a long way in bringing our bad habits to light!!! Thanks for what you do!!!

  7. Hi!
    This is something most of us know but choose to ignore because we have such rushed lives.
    On top of that we are shugar addicts. (well, I certainly am.) I am overweight and struggeling to loose it.
    Would be great to find a solution.

  8. Hi Melinda

    Thank you for your comments.

    Yes we are busy and somehow we have put ourselves on the back burner. You say it would be great to find a solution. Well, I have written 21 Days To Healthy Eating as the solution. Eating quality unprocessed food is no harder than eating processed junk after you get the habits formed. The trick is to think ahead so you know what you are going to be eating today and even tomorrow as well.You might cook something but you make sure you cook enough to give you an extra meal or two for the next day or you cook and freeze some portions.

    Just start somewhere and those small changes add up. It will pay off with more energy and better health and if you have some weight to lose that will just melt away.


  9. A very interesting post, however I cannot agree that all breakfast cereals that come in packages are unhealthy. By being astute enough to read the content of the packaging you are able to decide to what degree you want to deprive yourself of all small pleasures.
    I speak as a person who virtually lives from the produce of my own organic garden, unfortuneately it is not large enough to rear my own livestock.
    I also like my female companions to have some meat on them without being obese, matchsticks are not for comfort.

  10. Hi Norman

    I would love you to give us an example of a healthy breakfast cereal that comes in a box. That would be very enlightening.
    You made me laugh with your comment about liking your female companions “to have some meat on them without being obese”.

    Well, you have hit it right on the button, skinny is definitely out and guess what? HEALTHY is in!


  11. from my experience, best way to be slim is eat almost everything (without junk food), but ONLY when you are really hungry and ONLY how much you really need. meaning, when you finish your meal you have to remain slightly hungry. human body, actually, need as much food as big is yours both fists per one meal. reduce amount of quantity to one fist and have 6 – 8 meals per day and you will be good. me, personally, have meal only when i am to hungry to avoid feeding and when i do that is it until i get really, really hungry again. tough, my way of feeding is NOT RECOMMENDED. very good article, but this subject need a lot more space to just start revealing the truth. there is so much more correspondences that affect term healthy food. revealing a JUNK food is great start. well, junk food, as the name said, is junk and always will be junk and junk should be removed.

    mrs. Hansen thank you for this info


  12. Hi Milan

    Well said, thank you for your comments.
    Becoming more aware is the first step forward.


  13. Hi Carolyn.. excellent article, congrats!! Best to my knowledge believe that when someone gains — as well when even looses — weight, is not mainly due much to the food they eat but due to thyroid – hormonal problems, thou some food have as well their guilt in it. Thus, items such as bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, do not make you gain weight but yes the ingredients you add to them. Eating vegetables, fresh fruits, tuna fish and/or chicken instead of meat also keeps one healthy, let alone having breakfast cereal coming from a box in the morning as well ie Kellogs corn flakes!! mixed with banana short cut pieces. Lemonade instead of soft drinks helps a lot not only cleansing liver but as well loosing weight. .

  14. Hi Carolyn,
    Thanks for your article it was on-point. spun intended (LOL) as you can from my website
    In addition, to being a published author: Recent book: The Road That Is Difficult Tot Travel, I am also a contributing writer and featured blogger for Google Buzz, Google,com and
    my usual and customary articles and blogs are about, relationships, entrepreneurs initiatives, Healthiness, wellness, and nutritional foods, and also personal, spiritual development and character building and development. Please to have connected with you. Have a great day

    Reverend Steve Braxton
    Consultant, life/executive coach, and provides leadership initiatives mentor-ship traits to youth and young adults

  15. Eating healthy has become a dirty word among the world’s food manufacturers. Take Monsanto, for instance. They are pushing for a world full of genetically modified food devoid of any nutrition and full of toxins. It has been scientifically proven that this type of food causes cancer and is part of the campaign to get rid of any type of “natural” food. You are definitely right about processed foods but fresh foods have become a toxic nightmare also. They have already genetically modified the alfalfa sprout, corn is almost 90% GM and we are feeding our cattle, chickens and fish this unhealthy stuff which we then eat. So just eliminating many of those items you mentioned from the store may not be enough. You need to know where the food came from. A good example is framed fish, especially salmon andf tilapia. They don’t have nearly the omega -3 as their ocean counterparts and many are overbreed in dirty conditions and have been given antibiotics and had pesticides used to kill microrganisms that grow in their surroundings. Eating healthy takes a trained eye and determination to understand what is going on with our food supply if you want to make full use of the vitamins and minerals found in foods.

  16. Hi Barry

    Thank you for your informed comments. It makes you wonder how we humans with our intelligence and technology have allowed ourselves to become so unhealthy.. It is bad enough that we are doing it to ourselves but to inflict this on future generations is incomprehensible. Its a fact that children born after the year 200 have been predicted to have a 20-30 year shortened lifespan and their parents will likely outlive them.

    How can we feel good about leaving this legacy to them? Have we become so lazy we can’t even be bothered to cook fresh foods from scratch so we take shortcuts that end up wrecking our health.

    Not logical to me – what do others think?

    . .

  17. I love your articles. However, it would be more helpful if you have a weight release program rather than a weight loss program. When the sub-conscious mind gets the message that we have “lost” something, then it works extra hard to get whatever we have lost back for us. Instead, let us “release” the weight back to the light with gratitude, so that it NEVER returns again. If you cannot pronounce the ingredients on a food package, and there are more than 4 ingredients, DO NOT EAT IT!!!!

  18. Hi Dessie

    Yes you are so right. That is brilliant. Losing, sorry releasing excess fat weight should be about adding things to ones life. Like higher quality whole foods, more vegetables, more proper physical activity and more taking good care of ourselves. It shouldn’t be about ‘loss’ ‘losing’ and ‘taking away’. That is an old fashioned approach that went with deprivation as in dieting (which never has and never will work anyway)..

    And yes, if man made it, don’t eat it. It really is that simple.

    Thank you for your input.


  19. I would like to ad the comment that animal farming produces more greenhouse gases then all the vehicles on the roads, so what about a bit of advocating for the animals as well as the rest of us humans and adopt a vegan diet? There is absolutely nothing wrong with whole grains, I am not talking whole wheat breads, I mean rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, etc.
    I also didn’t see a mention of beans and legumes. Fibre is what most people are missing in their diets, to help them feel full and keep their systems running smoothly.
    I thank the other advocates of organic, raw, wholesome foods and wish a healthy happy world for the future.

    Thank you

  20. Simon,

    It sounds as though you are on the Paleo Diet. You’ve basically removed all processed foods, grains, (have you stopped eating legumes?) and instead are eating whole foods. So far so good. But what many have found on the Paleo diet is that some “safe starches” may be needed to continue losing weight. You may want to consider adding sweet potatoes or yams, WHITE rice (not brown) or a small amount of non-starchy potatoes (like red skin potatoes or Yukon gold). Or you could eat a bit more fruit.

    Another thing to consider is that your body is still “losing” weight, but not in pounds or stone. Often during weight loss we lose fat and gain muscle. Since muscle is denser than fat, it may look as though we’ve stopped losing weight when in fact our body is reshaping itself.

    Another question is, are you exercising? Now don’t get me wrong. I do not make the mistake of saying that exercise is important for weight loss. It isn’t. But exercise IS important for body health. The best sort of exercise is a natural movement type, like MovNat or CrossFit. Even just going out an playing is good enough. Get involved with basketball or other game. Go play some frisbee. What ever you do you must enjoy it.

    Many times what works in the beginning stops working after a while. We have to be flexible in understanding what our bodies need. And not everything works for everybody. You’ve done great so far, don’t think that what you’ve done has failed since it looks like you are no longer losing. DO NOT be a slave to the scale. It is only one measure of progress. I would go so far to say is don’t get on the scale or measure yourself for a month. But pay attention to your clothes. You might be surprised to see them getting bigger!

    If you want support there is a very active Paleo group on Facebook. Many people have the same problems as you. I might have some information on my site about this too: –
    Good luck!

  21. Great post, and I, too, would like permission to publish part of it on my Healthy Eating website, please – obviously with a suitable link back.

    My tip for weight loss is cross-stitching!! I am about to become a Grandma, so making a cot cover, which has two consequences:

    1) My hands and mind are occupied with something productive each evening, instead of getting the “munch cravings”.
    2) I need to keep my hands clean and non-sticky, even if sinful thoughts do creep in.

    Bit tongue in cheek, but it is genuinely helping me to stop snacking in the evenings.


  22. Hi Joy

    What a wonderful way to keep yourself from snacking in the evening. Good on you.

    I used to do a lot of knitting and found the same thing,. Pretty hard to eat chocolate when you are counting stitches isn’t it? 🙂

    I would love you to publish whatever bits you wish on your website.

    Thank you for your support – most appreciated.


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