What Happens When You Stop Eating Processed Food? | 10 Things You’ll Notice

Are you thinking about cutting highly processed stuff? This blog post will encourage you on this journey by sharing exactly what happens when you stop eating processed food. You’ll notice 10 positive results!

What Happens When You Stop Eating Processed Food? | 6 Things You'll Notice

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of eating more organically and ditching “processed foods” altogether. And I’m here to tell you, it does indeed make a BIG difference for your body.

Most of us know that canned and instant foods are processed but it extends way beyond that, too. While I don’t know you, it would be a safe bet to say that there are more processed foods in your home than you think! You won’t believe how many chemical-laden foods we put in our mouth – seriously.

In fact, a study done by Carlos Monteiro at the University of Sao Paolo found that nearly 60% of an American’s daily calories come from “ultra-processed” food.

Which by definition…are foods that go through multiple processes and contain added ingredients and are highly modified. Examples of such are soft drinks, chips, chocolate, candy, ice cream, cereals, packaged soups, chicken nuggets, fries, and more.

I’ve seen dramatic changes to my weight, health, and how I feel once I started identifying the processed foods we had at home and getting rid of them.

What were those changes and what can you look forward to? Keep reading to find out!

What Happens When You Stop Eating Processed Food? | 10 Things You'll Notice

What’s So Bad About Processed Foods?

Ever wonder why once you start eating a bag of chips, you just can’t seem to stop? It’s not just you. Processed foods are formulated to be highly addictive while simultaneously increasing your appetite. Not to mention, they are loaded with high amounts of sugar, salt, and fat. This translates to higher calories. Womp womp.

But the thing that you should worry about the most is the fact that they are void of any nutrients! While processed foods can fill your stomach and satisfy hunger, they’re NOT nourishing your body and health.

What Happens When You Stop Eating Processed Food? | 10 Things You'll Notice

What Can You Eat That’s Not Processed?

First things first, let me clarify something. Not everything that is processed comes from a jar, can, or bag. Once you start cooking your meal, whether it be baked, fried, or boiled, you are technically processing it.

By unprocessed, we mean that the food remains in its natural and unmodified state (without any added preservatives). Completely avoiding any sort of processing will be difficult and is likely unsustainable.

But it’s a great idea to make these a big part of your diet:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Meats
  • Seafood – Try my Salmon Meal Prep yet?
  • Herbs
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Spices
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
What Happens When You Stop Eating Processed Food? | 10 Things You'll Notice

Can Cutting Out Processed Foods Lead to Weight Loss?

HECK YES!!! Processed foods contain a LOT of extra and empty calories that don’t do you any good. So once you start cutting back on these foods, you’ll naturally lose weight.

It is also highly likely that you will crave less and stop overeating. Processed foods lack nutrients that will fuel your body, so you end up being hungry again within the hour. Eating more whole foods will keep you full, longer. And will also make you feel way better. Win-win 🙂

Wanna know more? Check out the 12 Worst Weight Loss Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them!)

What Happens When You Stop Eating Processed Food?

I can’t tell you enough how amazing I started to feel once I shifted to a cleaner diet! From more energy to less bloating, there are SO many benefits when you stop eating processed food. Here are 10 of the big ones…

1. You’ll be able to concentrate and focus better

Ever heard of a sugar crash? Because processed foods often contain loads of sugar, you’ll have a surge of energy followed by a sharp dip. This can throw your brain off balance and make it difficult for you to focus.

Sugar crashes can also lead to anxiety, heart palpitations, and fatigue. All of which makes it VERY hard to focus.

In summary, less processed food equals less sugar. Which lends itself to a more centered state of being. You’ll love how much easier it is to concentrate.

If you need help in spotting hidden sugars in food, check my blog 6 Ways To Spot Hidden Sugars.

2. You’ll have fewer headaches

This was actually the first thing I noticed when did an overhaul of my pantry. After snacking on more fruits and veggies instead of processed stuff, I noticed that the number of headaches I had was cut in half.

This comes down to the fact that salty, processed foods generally have a lot of harmful preservatives. The ways they manifest in the body are varied, but headaches are a common outcome.

Have migraines? It’s an awful thing to go through! While looking for a cure, a great place to start is with your diet.

3. You’ll feel less bloated

To continue my last point, highly processed foods with high sodium content will cause water retention. So when you start ditching the processed stuff – and actually keep yourself hydrated – you’ll definitely see a reduction in bloating. Check my blog on 10 Easy Steps to Reduce Bloating Fast if this is one of your top struggles.

And be sure to peep my popular post: 5 Easy Infused Water Recipes To Make Water Not Suck

4. Your mood will improve

It’s important to remember that processed foods high are often high in preservatives and saturated fats. This can make your brain foggy, and it’s hard to be in a good mood when you feel so disconnected.

Before I changed up my lifestyle, I remember being unpredictably moody most of the time (yeah even on non-PMS days!). While I just assumed that was my disposition, things started changing after eating less processed foods.

With a better diet, I felt better! And not just physically. This well-being transferred nicely to my mental health and emotional health as well. Cutting processed food is so worth it, y’all!

5. You’ll sleep better

Speaking of mental health…studies show that eating a high sugar, high saturated fat (and refined carb) diet can disrupt your sleep. What happens when you lack sleep? You feel like dirt!

Lack of sleep also contributes to weight gain because your appetite hormones can be stimulated. Which translates to eating more the next day (or during your midnight snack). 

Learn more about the importance of sleep, by reading my post on 10 Reasons Why You Need Better Sleep.

6. You’ll see improvements in your digestive health

Processed foods do not contain much fiber. Especially if they’re found in a can, jar, or bag. But fiber is super important, y’all. Your digestive system needs fiber to keep things moving and avoid constipation.

Plus fiber also acts as food for “good bacteria” for your digestive track. By ditching processed foods, you’ll finally experience some regularity in your bowels. It’s the little things!

If you feel inspired to act now, discover the 21 Top Foods High in Fiber.

Caprese Salad

7. Your skin will clear up

After a big serving of chips, you might notice some acne pop up here and there the next day. Say goodbye to breakouts and hello to youthful skin when you start eating less processed foods.

Whole foods lend themselves well to clear skin, not to mention anti-aging regimens. I just published a blog on 8 Best Foods For Your Skin that I highly recommend reading.

8. You’ll no longer have uncontrollable cravings

I used to think that cravings were a natural signal from my body that I should try to satiate. But boy was I wrong! Once I started to eat less processed foods, the urge to eat salty and sweet snacks dramatically decreased.

As I shared earlier, most processed foods are formulated to keep you craving MORE.

BUT GOOD NEWS: A little chocolate never hurt anyone. In fact, it can be helpful! Read why It’s OK To Eat Chocolate Every Day?

7 Best Antioxidant Drinks, And Their Health Boosting Benefits

9. You’ll no longer enjoy processed foods

I mean, sure, a chip or two here and there is okay. But when you get into the habit of eating clean, you’ll no longer want to eat processed foods anymore. In fact, you might be repelled by them!

This is because the body begins to recognize how processed food leaves it feeling vs. cleaner choices. This is nice because it becomes less a battle of will and more just giving your body what it wants.

10. Your flavor sensitivity will change

Processed foods don’t know the art of nuance and rely on hitting you over the head with a whack of sweet or salty flavors. Sometimes sour.

But making the switch to a lower sodium and lower sugar diet will change the way processed foods taste for you. Suddenly your favorite donut will be WAY too sweet and your go-to pizza will be a little on the salty side.

Changing your lifestyle will also alter how strongly you taste various flavors.

Best Healthy Summer Recipes

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Processed Foods?

It might get worse before it gets better. You’ll most likely experience tiredness, irritability and cravings during the first 5 days after quitting processed foods. Seriously, I’m not exaggerating when I throw out the word “addiction”.

How long it takes does depend on how processed your diet was (and how sugar-dependent you were).

Giving up processed foods completely is possible but very difficult. So if you’ve noticed with my recipes, I either reduce the number of additives and/or cook with anti-inflammatory ingredients.

At the end of the day, you need to make sure that you’re giving your body the right fuel it needs. It’s a long journey but very worth it and this blog aims to help you each step of the way.

This post contains affiliate links for products I use regularly and highly recommend.

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

4 thoughts on “What Happens When You Stop Eating Processed Food? | 10 Things You’ll Notice

  1. Loving the 5 day anti inflammatory diet!! Awesome

    My question is I am vegan and wonder what I can use to replace the becal plant based margarine I have been using ( which I realize is not good)

    I don’t want to use butter – is their anything else I could use?? Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Dyan!! Thanks for your comment/ question. While we’re not hip on the latest vegan options (though this a certainly a direction we’re considering for the blog) Lacey generally finds that coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil are good substitutes for many recipes that typically call for butter. And if you come across a good substitute, please let us know here! -Jen

    1. It would be pretty challenging to cut out all processed food, that’s just the reality we live in! However, there are many steps you can take that will make a big difference (meal prep, different grocery shopping habits, etc.) You might find some useful tips in Lacey’s post “15 Weight Loss Hacks That Actually Work!” As there’s a lot of crossover between eating healthy, cutting cravings, and weight loss: https://www.asweetpeachef.com/weight-loss-hacks/ I hope this helps! -Jen

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