whole, processed, and refined food

What Is The Difference Between Whole, Processed, & Refined Food?

I’ve been working on changing the way I eat.

And to be honest, the amount of information about diets and nutrition that can be found online is staggering.

What foods should I eat? How much of those foods are considered a portion size? What combinations of foods work better to get the most nutritional value?

You can basically find an argument to eat or not to eat anything under the sun!

Want to eat a paper bag? I bet you can find a reason online that would justify it.


Of course, anyone with a little bit of common sense would know that carrots are a lot healthier than candy bars. (Or paper bags!)

And it seems that the focus over the last several years has been more about the quality of food than it is about the calories.

Most of us who are trying to get healthier know that by choosing the carrots over the candy bars we are making a smarter food choice, but are the carrots still good for you if they are canned?

What about frozen?

Does it even matter???

What I’ve found is that knowing whether the food is whole or refined plays a big part in the decision of whether you should be eating it regularly or not.

But, how do you tell?

What is the difference between whole, processed, & refined food?

Knowing what ‘whole’ and ‘refined’ means is a good place to start.

whole, processed, & refined foodSimply put, a ‘whole’ food is one that has not been changed or altered in any way from its natural state.

Think vegetables that you pick from the garden, wash and eat.

A ‘refined’ food has had some kind of change made to it.

This isn’t exactly the same thing as a ‘processed’ food, which is one that has been prepared in some way without stripping it of its original substance.

A ‘processed’ food would be more along the lines of fresh orange juice made from freshly picked oranges, or flour that was made from whole grain.

Refined foods, on the other hand, have gone through a process that created a fundamental change to the food itself, such as the one that occurs when rice is changed from brown to white.

Something to keep in mind is that ‘refining’ a food doesn’t usually mean it has been improved.

It typically means that the key nutrients have been removed during the refining process.

For example, white flour is made from grain that went through a process that removed a good amount of fiber content.

That makes it not as nutritionally dense or healthy as 100% whole wheat bread.

Not all refined foods are ‘bad’.

They’re not necessarily ‘unhealthy’.

They’re just less healthy than their whole state.

Unless you’re talking about a box of Twinkies or a bag of potato chips.

Those are definitely not the best food choices.

The deciding factor for me is the amount of refining or processing a food has undergone.

whole, processed, and refined foodsFruit juice, for example, is processed in order to preserve its shelf life or taste sweeter.

By the time it gets to the grocery store, it’s pretty much lost all of its nutritional value.

White bread, white rice, and white pasta are the same.

In a perfect world, we would all be eating whole foods that came straight from the garden to the table.

But, that isn’t possible for most of us.

Trust me – I have tried repeatedly to garden in Florida and the only thing I can grow is peppers.

I need more options than that!

So, I, like most of us, have to shop for my food.

The biggest tip I can give you is to just be aware of what you’re buying.

If you’re trying to eat better and get more nutritional benefits from the foods you eat, pay attention to whether it is whole, processed or refined.

Even pre-packaged ‘healthy’ foods are often not healthy at all due to the fact that they’ve been altered in order to taste sweeter and extend their expiration date.

So, if you’re trying to live a more healthy lifestyle, do your due diligence and prepare for each grocery shopping trip.

And if you’re interested in healthy recipes and weight loss support, feel free to join my private Facebook Group, Healthy Weight Loss, Recipes & More!

We’d love to have you!

What Is The Difference Between Whole, Processed, & Refined Food?

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