To avoid “processed” or “refined” foods, avoid food with fiber removed

February 3, 2017 by Joshua
in Fitness, Habits, Nature

In response to someone posting how he avoided sugar, I shared my practice, which I find simpler, less artificial, and closer to the original plants and fungi, which is to avoid foods whose fiber has been removed.

(EDIT: see an image of the results at the bottom of the page)

Here are a few posts I wrote, first my original response, then my responses to responses.

I worked at finding a simple policy for myself and settled on:

I avoid food where fiber has been removed.

That cuts out sugar, white flour, corn syrup, oils, and basically all junk, forcing me to eat tons of vegetables, fruit, legumes, and nuts. I already didn’t eat animal products. I haven’t cut them to zero, but fiber-removed foods contribute probably a few percent of my calories. I originally made exceptions for olive oil and alcohol, but I’ve mostly lost taste for them.

My six pack started coming in soon after making the shift without any other change. I’ve discovered how delicious vegetables are.

When I saw you wrote “not eating ANYTHING sweet,” I thought, what about broccoli, collard greens, kohlrabi, cabbage, and all the other vegetables I’ve discovered taste incredibly sweet when your senses adjust. I seriously can’t believe how sweet cabbage tastes. I also eat tons of food since you need to eat a lot of vegetables to hit your macros.

It took months and even years to pick up how incredibly and deliciously sweet vegetables are when your taste buds aren’t overloaded. You’ve been at it a couple weeks. You’ve experienced newbie gains. Keep it up a couple months and years and you’ll love the results that make these seem like nothing. I recommend avoiding all fiber-removed foods.

Someone asked for examples of what I eat daily. I responded

Today was typical:

Breakfast: oats, apple, cashews, almonds, chia seeds, water. I also had a tablespoon of protein powder in water after rowing and my morning burpee/stretching/weight routine.

Lunch: Last night’s stew from pressure cooker: lentils, squash, jalapeno, ginger, nutritional yeast, water, salt. I topped it with chopped nuts, parsnip, and onion.

I picked up my farm share from the farmers market today so I had a lot of root vegetables so I also had a chopped vegetable and fruit salad: kohlrabi, turnip, radish, apple, onion, carrot, nutritional yeast, vinegar, cabbage, orange (including peel), parsnip.

Dessert: a pear

Dinner will be more stew because it tastes so good and probably another pear or apple for dessert.

Tldr: I mix vegetables, fruit, and legumes based on what’s in season and would taste good together.

Btw, a friend was over and told me it was beyond delicious.

Someone else asked if I ate tofu or high protein processed food. I responded

I don’t. I happened to have some vegan protein powder today, but it amounts to a few tablespoons a week, so a few percent of my protein intake.

I eat a lot of volume of food. The protein per gram is lower than some things, but the protein per calorie tends to be higher, so I eat a lot of mass without too much calories. I like that because I’ve developed a taste for fruits and vegetables, meaning I eat a lot of food I love.

I eat basically to stuffed nearly every meal. Still have ab definition, though not huge muscles.

Someone else asked if I ate butter. I responded

I don’t think I’ve eaten butter in at least a decade. Maybe some will be in food someone else prepared without telling me. I haven’t bought any or deliberately put any in my food in as long as I can remember.

Someone else asked me to write a bit more about the foods I eat. I responded

I grew up eating a standard American diet. Over the years, as I learned about foods, I’d lose interest for engineered products and as I lost the taste for them I’d choose to cut them out completely or nearly so. In rough order, with a few years adjustment between each, I cut out

  • meat (1990)
  • hydrogenated oil (a few years later)
  • corn syrup (a few years later)
  • nearly all animal products (probably around 2000)
  • fiber-removed food (2014 or 15)
  • packaged food (2015)

That’s about where I am now. Each stage led to more delicious food, getting to eat more of it, and doing less business with companies I disliked. If you click around my site you’ll find more pictures of the food I tend to eat. There’s a video of me making a pressure-cooker stew. The video isn’t exciting, but it shows my style of cooking — no recipe, just combining what I think will taste good together, and having lots of fresh ingredients.

Oh yeah, after settling on my current diet, someone pointed out that it’s very similar to the book Eat to Live. When I read it, I thought, “This is my diet!” It gave me confidence to keep eating as I do. I recommend the book, though I recommend just avoiding fiber-removed and packaged foods and figuring out how to make them delicious on your own. It worked for me, though I had nearly a year of unimaginative food, mostly steaming and frying with garlic and onion before blossoming into the delicious preparations I have now.

I hope I didn’t ramble.

Someone else asked how I ate vegetables without oil. I responded

I didn’t start that way. For a while after cutting out fiber-removed foods I excepted olive oil. It bothered me that I wasn’t following my rule.

I just used less and less, adjusting the rest of my ingredients, until I stopped. All I can say is everyone loves what I prepare. The pressure cooker makes amazing stews that don’t need oil. I don’t make regular salads with lettuce and a few vegetables. Instead of regular salads based on lettuce with a few vegetables, I dice vegetables more like a fruit salad and still use vinegar.

This video isn’t exciting, but it shows how I make my stews.

The question to me is how to make the transition. You just use less until you stop using it. I’ll try to make a video of making the salad some day too, although it’s just dicing vegetables and adding vinegar and nutritional yeast. Oh yeah, plus mustard powder, salt, and sometimes other spices like clove or allspice. I often top with nuts. It’s really good. I made some yesterday when my friend visited and he said he’d never seen anything like it but he loved it.

EDIT: Here is me in June 2018, a few weeks from 47 years old, after avoiding fiber-removed foods and packaged foods, from the video on this post, More than a year since I emptied my garbage:

Josh without garbage

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18 responses on “To avoid “processed” or “refined” foods, avoid food with fiber removed

  1. This may be great for you, but I’d like to just raise awareness to the fact that a certain percentage of humans simply cannot digest insoluble fiber, and therefore MUST eat fiber-removed or, better yet, avoid those foods altogether [primarily grains and legumes, but also many vegetables]. The outcome of eating them ranges from bloating that lasts 3 – 5 days, to severe stomach pain for hours on end. Just FYI. [You can check out research articles on ‘FODMAPS’. – so, when using fiber removed, just reduce cooking times ].

    • Thank you for sharing things I didn’t know. I’m a doctor but not a medical doctor.

      There’s still something I don’t like about companies removing fiber from foods as a standard practice. Making food available to people with medical issues, I get, but to extend shelf-life at the cost of our health, I don’t.

      Since you describe avoiding the undigestable foods as a better option, I get removing fiber less. Luckily I don’t have to eat them, so I don’t.

  2. What is a “Fiber removed food?” How do I know fiber has been removed from any given food I may be considering for consumption? I didn’t know this was a thing until talking to my business partner at lunch today and I came back to the office to find answers to these questions. I like your article but it does not answer my questions.

    • I came up with the term for myself so there’s no official definition, but the idea is that most plant foods have some fiber in them. Milling, refining, and various other processes remove the fiber. Industrial food companies do it to extend the shelf life, make it sweeter, etc. Rarely to people use those processes in their kitchens. If some process removed fiber, I try to avoid eating that food.

      In practice, the main examples are

      • Non-100%-whole-wheat flour
      • Sugar
      • Oils
      • Fruit juices
      • Corn syrup

      I don’t know if it’s a “thing” to anyone else, but it’s led to my diet becoming more delicious and my abs more defined.

  3. Thanks Josh, I was just wondering how to tell “if some process removed fiber” when I am looking at foods in the grocery. It sounds to me like taking the approach of not eating ANY processed foods is what is being suggested.

    So other than only buying fresh produce and organic products, (or just growing my own..yeah right lol) how do you know by looking at packaging and reading all the information contained therein that something has been processed in a way that specifically fiber has been removed?

    I definitely want to get the maximum amount of fiber back into my diet and would prefer to do that through diet and not metamucil but I also do not buy the hype of organic or just sticking to “natural foods”.

    To be more specific, is there any way to know when I am buying canned green beans or canned collards that somehow fiber has been removed or are you suggesting that we should assume it just has been and i should stick to buying those items fresh?

    • Since one of my main goals of my communications (and life) is to enable people — to make them independent of me, not dependent, though I hope to add value — and since the concept of fiber-removed is just something I came up with, though has added value to my life, especially in saving me money and effortlessly bringing definition to my abs, I’ll answer how I answer many similar questions in my workshops and classes.

      If you consider the concept valuable, how would you answer the question? Do you think you can tell if fiber has been removed? If so, how?

      For me the concept clearly differentiated between the vague terms people used like “processed” or “natural.” Some processes remove fiber and others don’t. Edge cases always exist, which is a property of definitions, which I haven’t found important enough to bother with. My goal is delicious food, not abstract definitions.

      Canning doesn’t seem to remove fiber. It may degrade it some as a side effect, but it doesn’t seem the main point. Refining sugar and oil or making non-whole-wheat specifically and intentionally remove fiber. It’s almost the whole point.

      I prefer you not follow me for the sake of following me but to do what you think is best, perhaps because you found what works for me works for you.

      What do you think about canned green beans? What works for you? If my way helps you, how so? If not, how would you improve it? What alternatives can you find or create?

      • I appreciate your thoughtful response. I have been living a KETO lifestyle for years and it has greatly improved my overall health and mental acuity. It also has served to slightly lower my cholesterol but not as much as I had hoped. Recently my girlfriend also started livin’ la KETO Loca’ 🙂 with me.

        Where I was eating just a protein shake in the morning and a bun less burger in the evening she takes a much more thoughtful approach and prepares many delicious meals for us utilizing KETO recipes. She focused a lot on veggies and also giving us back things like pizza and bagels and even cupcakes using almond flour etc. It’s a lot of work in my opinion but she seems to love doing it.

        The point is that I had been using my method for years and all was well except that my genetically high cholesterol only ever dropped by around 10 or 15 points. After 9 months of her involvement my cholesterol suddenly dropped over 50 points!

        This set me to looking for what changed in my diet. The only thing I could come up with was additional fiber through her efforts with almond flour and fiber bearing vegetables. I also started to see AB definition which I have NEVER had my entire life, even when I was a skinny, weight lifting runner at age 17. Now I am 47 and WOW!

        I was just putting this together when the lunch discussion came up with my business partner over lunch who also does KETO but is also always looking at new research. He mentioned the “removed fiber from processed foods” issue which I had no idea. I came back to the office and started researching and came upon your comments.

        Anyway, I’m sure you probably didn’t want all that information but that is why I started this discussion and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to respond and share your insights with me.

        Cheers!

        • There seem to be many ways to achieve healthy diets and it sounds like you found one for yourself. I tend to avoid acting on the latest research. I’m also 47 and healthier than I’ve ever been — low resting pulse, low body fat, lifting more than ever, if I go for a five mile run and it’s so beautiful out I feel like extending to 7 or 8, I just do.

          Going by your “WOW!”, you’re also finding that fitness feels better than you ever expected. I knew getting fit would feel good, but it feels way better than I expected. Not just the aesthetic beauty of the body, not just being able to do things I couldn’t, also what people consider work or even painful starts to feel good too.

          Plus foods I didn’t used to buy, like collards, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and more than I can list, taste more delicious than I expected, now that I know how to cook them. It sounds similar at your end, especially with the girlfriend partnering.

          Bravo!

          Keep in touch. If you haven’t checked out my burpee series, you might like it http://joshuaspodek.com/js_blogseries/burpees. Or sidchas http://joshuaspodek.com/js_blogseries/self-imposed-daily-challenging-healthy-activity-sidcha-series.

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