Why Processed Foods & Sugars Should Only be Eaten in Moderation

December 28, 2021

Why Processed Foods & Sugars Should Only be Eaten in Moderation I get it, fast food, potato chips, candy and everything in between is pretty tasty and let’s be real, many of these foods are designed to be addictive so we keep buying them. The more we eat them the more we buy them, the […]

Nicole VanQuaethem

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Why Processed Foods & Sugars Should Only be Eaten in Moderation

Why Processed Foods & Sugars Should Only be Eaten in Moderation

I get it, fast food, potato chips, candy and everything in between is pretty tasty and let’s be real, many of these foods are designed to be addictive so we keep buying them. The more we eat them the more we buy them, the more money these companies make. Yes, we need to make healthy and informed decisions but how are people supposed to do that when the foods that are cheap and accessible keep us coming back for more and more!

But here’s the thing. We can break the cycle with those foods and truly nourish our bodies.

Let me make one thing really clear, I am all about moderation so if you want to enjoy those foods every once in a while or find healthy-ish alternatives then by all means do that. We don’t want to completely demonize these foods so that we can never enjoy them again without feeling guilty because that isn’t healthy either.

With that being said I think it’s good to remind ourselves why we only want to have these foods in moderation. We are told from a young age that we need to eat healthily and exercise and that some foods are considered “junk foods” but many people go about living their lives without having the knowledge and power to fully understand why that is the case.

So let’s bring it back a notch and get back to the basics.

I want to start with sugar because selfishly I have such a sweet tooth so this is usually the tricker one for me. I grew up eating every type of cookie, packages desserts like Joe Louis, and all of that artificial crap.

Sugar is confusing for a lot of people because we aren’t educated on how to read labels. There are a BAJILLION names for sugar. Ok, that may be an exaggeration but there are actually so many names (I will leave this for future conversations) that you may not even realize there are artificial sugars in your foods.

So why may sugar not be our best friend?

For starters, it spikes our blood sugar so over time we may experience insulin resistance which can ultimately lead to Type 2 Diabetes. I know that may sound like a big jump but it can be the case when an individual is eating a lot of sugar and processed foods.

And who likes experiencing those blood sugar highs and lows throughout the day? Not me! It can make you irritable and unable to focus and concentrate. Yes, dips are normal but when we eat these foods in excess it can create more highs and lows. When that happens we are also less likely to make healthy food choices and out of desperation reach for the office donuts.

Sugar has also been linked to cancer, heart disease, obesity, and contributing to poor gut health. YUP! If you know me, you know I am a gut health nerd and to hear that sugar can disrupt your microbiome was a sad day in school for me.

Now here is a personal story that is not meant to scare you but show you how powerful sugar can be. When I was diagnosed with cancer I had to undergo a bunch of tests. When I did a P.E.T. Scan they actually injected me with a blue glucose solution, then I had to lay there for about an hour so it could get through my body then I went for the scan. The purpose of this solution was that the cancer cells feed off the glucose solutions so when I was getting the scan they could pinpoint where the cancer was in my body due to the cancer cells essentially feeding off the solution.

I know it sounds scary but I found it quite interesting. It’s sometimes easy to push things off because we can’t see the immediate impacts of something but that moment for me was a reality check.

Sugar can again impact our mood, digestion, long-term health, mood but also long-term mental health, sleep and overall wellbeing.

So what are my thoughts on sugar? Everything in moderation. Enjoy the cookies, donuts, birthday cake but try to limit how much you are eating each day!

Now onto processed foods in general. Yes, sugar fits into this category and is part of the reason you want to avoid these foods but I want to take a hot sec to emphasize some of the other reasons you may want to avoid these foods.

So what are these foods? They are your bread, pasta, desserts, packaged foods, and so on. There can be healthy processed foods as well such as healthy crackers but I am more so referring to your Oreo Cookies, Dempsters Bread, Nature Valley Granola Bars, snack foods, white pasta, and so on.

These foods are:

  1. Devoid of nutrients. If you think about it, the real reason we need to eat is in order to provide fuel for our body. Simply put, we are not fueling our bodies when we are stuffing it with sugar-filled snacks and bread.
  2. They contain sketchy ingredients: if you look at the ingredients list, yes some healthy ingredients can be hard to pronounce but a lot of processed foods will have this endless list of ingredients that seem like they are from another language. I recently looked at the back of my husband’s spicy chips and was shocked by how this was still a thing. Some of these ingredients such as food dyes have been linked to asthma in children and even more serious diseases.
  3. Many of these foods contain a high amount of sugar – some are sneaky about the type of sugar they use.
  4. Many of these foods contain inflammatory oils which go rancid easily and become carcinogenic. Look out for vegetable and canola oil as they can increase inflammation in the body!
  5. These foods are addictive. As I mentioned at the beginning these foods are meant to keep you coming back for more.
  6. Dangerous. I don’t want to seem dramatic but consistent intake of these foods has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other illnesses.

I believe that knowledge is power. It’s unfair to assume that we all know or remember these things. I also know that it’s unfair to assume that everyone can drink green smoothies and grain-free crackers, and kombucha.

But if you can make one simple change or swap that is a great start!

And remember everything in moderation.

Want to learn even more? Check out our Resources section on the blog and be sure to join our Random Wellness Club where we send out free meal plans and recipes!

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