The problem is ultra-processed food?

I have on my long list of audiobooks to read and one of them is Chris van Tulleken’s Ultra-Processed People: Why Do We All Eat Stuff That Isn’t Food … and Why Can’t We Stop?

I assume there is a lot of debate about what counts as ultra-processed food and the result on the body. But I wanted to add 2 points ahead of reading the book..

A while ago I had a NHS dietitian and I was very shocked about the advice I was being told. Everything was about calories and counting them. Even when I rejected the advice, I was strongly asked if I actually want to lose weight? Although I had already established the dietitian had many clients and many of them came back regularly.

In short I was being told to eat packaged meals as it made counting calories easy, ignore most exercise as it doesn’t help weight lost and finally sleep doesn’t have that much effect (which I pretty much had a argument about).   It completely blew my mind and in the end I just gave up and sustainably lost weight ahead of my crazy busy few months.

I’m one of those people who usually cooks my own food and like food which is pretty raw. For example my stirfrys don’t include sauces just the raw ingredients. But I am guilty of having sugar free and fat free things .

This is why I found the whole ultra processed notion very interesting and could explain so much, although there sounds like a lot more research is needed (especially around the gut biome)

In the Zoe interview, I was sadden/upset by the solution to avoid ultra processed food. Simply money, to pay for just processed or lightly processed food. This can’t be the only way!

Anyway, sure once I actually read/listen to the book, I will have much more to say and write. Till then, have a watch and let me know what you think?

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and

4 thoughts on “The problem is ultra-processed food?

  1. @cubicgarden I think some dietitians view weight loss as a simple math issue: consume fewer calories than you burn, period. But this assumes all calories are equal, and also puts the onus on individual willpower to track calories. I’ll check this book out – my kids are really into this guy on “Operation Ouch”. Another for your booklist: Stephan Guyenet’s “The Hungry Brain” which goes into detail about evolution of hormones in humans which are exploited by the modern food industry.

    1. Thanks for the recommendations.
      Yes it drove me to very heavy argument when comparing the calories of a freshly home cooked chicken vs a packet of crisps
      I think the Hungry brain sounds about right, this has all been engineered and thats pretty awful for the future of society.

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