Why You Shouldn’t Avoid All Processed Foods

  Nov 30, 2016  |  #Nutrition

Hi friends! I haven’t done a WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday) in a while, so what better day than to link up with some of my favorites for a food-frenzy? These eats are from Monday, which was a long day back after Thanksgiving break.

Long in the good way, though. I love my clients.

We’ve all heard the phrase, or something like it:

Eat foods close to the earth, and avoid things in packages.

Avoid processed foods.

I’m here to tell you otherwise.

Processed Foods graphic

A large part of this idea is true. Processed foods are normally higher in calories, sodium, sugar and fat. But, not all processed foods are created equal. A box of Kraft Mac n Cheese is not the same as microwaveable brown rice.

Now, we could get really nit picky here and determine what “processed” really means. When we make our own soup, or dressing in a food processor, aren’t we “processing” ingredients? Technically, yes. But, what about a Whole Grain Van’s waffle, made with barley, oats, brown rice, quinoa and millet flour? Sure, that’s processed, but isn’t it different than a regular frozen Ego waffle?

Or, think about those awesome, convenient protein bars and snack bars. Most of those are processed! You can’t find those bars growing out of the ground!

As you can see, what you consider processed really depends on your unique definition.

My definition of processed foods includes those that have a long(er) shelf life, are sometimes more cost-effective, and have an alternative to make it more wholesome. So, let’s use ketchup as an example.

Ketchup is the most processed, canned tomatoes are semi-processed (long shelf life, thanks to sodium and acidity), but actual tomatoes are not shelf stable. They will rot if you don’t use them in an allotted amount of time. Canned fish is another example. While it would be closer to the earth to get fresh tuna or salmon, it’s more cost effective and convenient to get canned (which has been processed). It also has a longer shelf life, so we don’t have to worry about it going bad.

By the way, these turmeric salmon burgers use canned salmon and are delicious!

Does that mean canned tomatoes are a poor choice since they are semi-processed? Absolutely not!

I believe processed foods can have a seat at the table and still be part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. After all, life is busy! We are faced with choices everyday. However, if we’re choosing canned tomatoes to add to our salad or pasta, rather than buying a microwaveable meal with tomatoes in them, I think that’s a solid choice!

Additionally, if we’re picking up pre-cut veggies rather than fresh ones from the farmer’s markets, or grabbing rolled oats rather than steel cut, those are still good choices. We even deserve credit for picking out dried herbs rather than fresh to flavor our food! It’s all about small changes, and sometimes the healthiest choice is the most convenient one. Including these foods in our diet at all is a good thing.

So, here are some of my favorite processed foods that I eat daily and weekly:

My Favorite Processed Foods:

  • Canned tuna and salmon
  • Hummus
  • Deli meat
  • Canned beans
  • Frozen Fruit
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned Beets
  • Yogurt
  • String Cheese

My Favorite Packaged Foods:

  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Kashi Crackers
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Whole Wheat Bread
  • Microwaveable Brown Rice
  • Whole Wheat Gnocci
  • Graham Crackers
  • Rice Cakes
  • Dried Figs
  • Chex Cereal
  • Rolled Oats

processed foods, leftovers


Like anything, it’s meeting people where they are.  While there are certainly better choices for processed foods than others, we shouldn’t feel shamed for choosing them occasionally.

Just because something is processed doesn’t mean it can’t fit into our lifestyle. It can (and should) still have a place at our table and that’s A okay.

Linking up with Amanda for Thinking out Loud!

Favorite convenience item? Mine would have to be canned beans. I couldn’t live without those!

Grab your FREE list of the most nutritious post-run foods to refuel your body and muscles. No spam here, promise.

41 responses to “Why You Shouldn’t Avoid All Processed Foods

  1. Such a great topic to discuss! I think its definitely in the perception of things. Processed in the sense of just more chopped down or cooked shouldn’t be a problem, its when processed food has all the crap in it that isn’t not the best for daily use. Also ,things that shouldn’t have a long shelf life that are in those packages kinda skeeve me out ha. Couldn’t live without my organic house ground peanut butter, Lundberg rice cakes or cream of rice!

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