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In the United Kingdom ultra processed foods are consumed more than in any other country in Europe.
58% of all calories consumed are from ultra processed foods.Ultra processed foods started to gain popularity in the eighties and incidentally this is when obesity also got more common.
I was born in 1965 and I grew up in the seventies.Back then obesity was’t very common.
In this day and age it’s a different story. Just look around you. Anywhere you go you will find that overweight/obese people now are a majority.
So what defines an ultra processed item of food?
In essence if an item contains a high number of ingredients then it is ultra processed.
Are the ingredients harmful any way?
Probably not but generally the number of nutrients that you get per calorie will be less if you opt for ultra processed foods.
Therefore it’s always better to choose whole foods and spend a bit more time in preparing them, especially if you are looking to lose weight.
A few years ago someone reached out to me asking for advice. She said she was only eating whole foods and she was still finding it really hard to keep the weight off.
I asked her for a food diary.
So her breakfast was Weetabix, a sandwich for lunch and on most afternoons she would eat some kind of an ultra processed snack.
So I told her neither Weetabix nor bread are whole foods so a large chunk of her daily calorie consumption do actually come from ultra processed foods. And the packet of crisps in the afternoon it's not like she is eating boiled potatoes.
She disagreed, she told me that Weetabix comes from highest quality wheat and that it’s even sold at Holland and Barret.
The bottomline is that a lot of people consume more ultra processed foods than they think because they are so common.
Surely if you are looking to maintain a healthy weight it would be a good idea to start looking at your consumption of ultra processed foods.
The less you eat the better.
By: Abdi-Karim Berleen/Personal trainer in Loughton