Limit ultra-processed foods in your diet

Limit ultra-processed foods in your diet

What should you snack on instead?


Nathan Glusman

Ultra-processed foods are foods that have so much added (refined) sugar, salt, and other additives that they are different from what the food originally was. Mark Lorimer, Nutrition4IBD president, says it this way: if your great-grandmother would have served it, you can be fairly sure it was real food. And if the food label has a long list of additives, you might want to look them up.

Common foods that are ultra-processed include

  • Soda
  • Chips
  • Pastries
  • Ice cream
  • Sweetened cereals
  • Hotdogs
  • Sausages
  • Candy

Why are ultra-processed foods bad for you?
You need the right balance of nutrition to be healthy. Studies show a clear link between the eating of ultra-processed foods and negative effects on your health. Ultra-processed foods contain more sugar, more carbs, less fiber, and less protein than the foods had before they were changed. In addition, changing the physical and chemical makeup of foods can lead to elevated sugar levels without allowing you to feel full, so you would eat more of them.

Check the labels
Sometimes it can be difficult to know whether a food is ultra-processed or not. A quick and easy way to check is to read the labels. If it's high in sodium, sugar, fat and includes artificial coloring or preservatives, it's probably ultra-processed.

Many of these contain emulsifiers which can be problematic to those with IBD.

Are minimally processed foods okay?
Minimally processed foods are fine to eat! These include pre-cut vegetables, low-fat milk, and whole-grain bread. Also, some foods have protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals added which are essential in your diet.

Bottom Line
Avoid ultra-processed foods when possible. Most healthy diets guide you to healthier foods that are natural or minimally processed.

Hint: Instead of having the cake or pastries for dessert, have fruit instead. And instead of snacking on chips, munch on some carrots or grab another piece of fruit!

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