Nutrition recommendations vary depending on the source and the individual, which makes it hard for any nutrition guidelines to be universally true (Wiss, 2021). Nutritional needs are different between individuals, so any guidelines may be altered in order for someone to meet their nutritional requirements (Wiss, 2021). Processed foods are a highly debated topic, making it tough for the public to understand how to approach them and whether or not they should integrate them into their lives.
At Rhodes Wellness College, students in the Professional Integrative Nutrition Diploma Program learn everything from nutrition fundamentals to nutrition and mental health to nutritional pathophysiology and everything in between. This program sets students up for success in a wide variety of industries across the wellness sphere. Continue reading to discover the truth about processed foods so you can best help future clients with their nutrition and knowledge for health and wellness.
Pros and Cons of Processed Foods
Most foods are processed in some way before being eaten, to remove microorganisms and lengthen shelf life, and processing has allowed for the fortification of certain foods to contain more valuable nutritional content (Food Processing and Nutrition, n.d.). While these benefits have allowed society to improve food access and food safety, there are concerns with the over-processing of some foods. Ultra-processed foods are defined as foods that include formulations of several ingredients which are not used in culinary preparations, aside from salt, sugar, and fats (Wiss, 2021). This includes flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers, and other additives that lead to hyper-palatable foods that disguise the undesirable qualities of the final product (Wiss, 2021). The challenge with these foods, while they are popular, is that they are easily eaten in excess and in the place of other non-processed foods (Wiss, 2021).
The Link Between Ultra-Processed Foods and Non-Communicable Diseases
The consumption of ultra-processed foods over time, especially when prioritized over more natural and less processed foods, can lead to increased energy intake that may result in weight gain (Food Processing and Nutrition, n.d.). Additionally, non-communicable diseases, such as certain cancers, stroke, and heart attack, have been linked to ultra-processed food and drink intake (Wiss, 2021). Obesity, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, and depression are also concerns for diets that are high in ultra-processed foods (Food Processing and Nutrition, n.d.). While the link between this diet and these diseases are not yet entirely clear, professionals in the field believe that they are in part explained by the increased intake of sugar, salt, fats and oils, the increase in energy intake, and the lack of nutritious and unprocessed or minimally processed foods due to displacement from ultra-processed foods (Food Processing and Nutrition, n.d.).
After nutritionist school, it is important to keep in mind the challenges that individuals may face when they have fallen into the habit of a highly ultra-processed diet. When you can identify the areas of their diet that are lacking and where they can make healthier choices, then you can help guide them to a more balanced and healthy life.
Taking on a Food-Positive Approach After Nutritionist College
One way to approach your practice once you graduate from Rhodes Wellness College with a Professional Integrative Nutrition Diploma is with a food-positive outlook. This is achieved by encouraging the addition of nutritious and nutrient-dense foods rather than the exclusion or subtraction of others that may not be as nutritious (Wiss, 2021). This approach often helps clients see the importance of minimally processed foods, consider their place in their diet, and integrate them in a more balanced way with a higher priority (Wiss, 2021). After nutritionist college, this style of nutritional guidance can help you deter clients from extreme diets that are harmful and overly restrictive and help them adopt healthier eating habits (Wiss, 2021).
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