SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After a long day at work, fast food can seem more appealing than going home to cook supper.
But that processed food isn’t always good for your health.
Fast-food or frozen pizza may occasionally appear on your dinner menu. It’s quick, it’s cheap but oftentimes it’s ultra-processed.
“A lot of those are my favorite foods, and I’ll still sometimes today try them… and it don’t agree with me very good so,” Dan Ketcham said.
In 2018, Ketcham was diagnosed with stage 3 esophageal cancer, and after chemo and radiation treatment, he had an esophagectomy. That surgery left him with only 20 percent of his stomach, forcing him to say goodbye to many of his favorite meals.
“I get really miserable pain and discomfort and that sticks in my mind pretty good, and that motivates me,” Ketcham said.
He admits cutting down on his favorites hasn’t been easy. But with help from registered dietitian Tiffany Krogstad, his diet is now full of nutritionally packed items — limiting those utra-processed foods.
“What the research has found is that ultra-processed foods can cause increased risk for heart disease and obesity,” Krogstad said.
Now, Ketcham is preparing most of his meals at home and skipping past the drive-thru. Since making the switch he says he’s feeling better.
“You have to try things to find out what works for you,” Ketcham said.
Experts says it’s important to remember that not all processed food is bad, instead it should be looked at on a spectrum.
“You have minimally processed foods like even fruits, lets say you have baked spinach or you know carrots in a bag, those would still be considered processed food because they’re not in their natural state. And then you have ultra-processed food, your cookies and your cakes, frozen pizzas, frozen foods,” Krogstad said.
Which is why Krogstad says the key to consuming a less processed diet should include meal planning, and buying items with short ingredient list, displaying minimal processing.
To see a list of minimally processed foods, click here.