In this fast paced culture, processed foods are becoming the new norm. Follow this guide to start eliminating processed foods from your diet today.
Check the label
This is really the only way to find out what’s in your food. Don’t just look at the front either – that’s more likely to read “natural” or “low fat” when in all reality, the food you’re about to eat might be just the opposite. The heart of the matter, the ingredients, lies on the back of the label, below the nutrition facts. Some say if the label has a laundry list of ingredients, avoid it. But, it’s important to know what you’re reading, what’s healthy to consume, and what’s not so healthy. Artificial sweeteners (high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, splenda, stevia, brown rice syrup, cane juice just to name a few), hydrogenated oils (vegetable, soybean, corn, canola), sodium nitrates & nitrites, benzoate, artificial coloring, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and trans fats are just a few of the big no-nos. I try to practice the “if-I-can’t-say-it-I-don’t-eat-it” rule, but, as you buy your groceries take note of the ingredients. If an ingredient looks a little foreign to you, research it!
Avoid boxed & frozen meals
These guys are notorious for carrying the listed ingredients above. At all cost, try to avoid boxed & frozen meals. Re-heat some leftovers or boil some pasta in about the same amount of time for a much healthier alternative.
Eat the real stuff
Instead of stocking up on frozen meals for this week’s dinners, stock up on fresh foods. In fact, challenge yourself to eliminate the frozen aisle from your trip entirely. Try buying fresh veggies for stir-fries or buy grass fed beef from your local butcher. Fresh fruit smoothies are also a great way to pack on the nutrition without packing on the pounds in the morning. While buying frozen meals may seem like a convenient time saver, the fresh stuff only takes a small amount of planning and offers way more nutrition and health benefits.
Eliminate fast food
For some reason, we love to eat on the go and in half the time it should take to sit down to have a meal. While this may save time, it’s not saving you any calories. When we eat on the go, we are more inclined to eat fast food or food with a boatload of preservatives, the bad stuff found in processed foods. McDonald’s wraps, Starbucks breakfast sandwiches, Stouffer’s frozen dinners… sound familiar? Instead of running around like chicken with its a head cut off, sit down. Literally, sit down. Take time to enjoy your meal that you carefully prepared.
Because local food does not have to travel long distances, it often comes sans preservatives. Take a visit to your local famers’ market for some fresh-picked produce, grass fed beef, pastured chickens, and local jams and honeys. Challenge yourself to create a few local meals a day and you’ll be sure to reduce your preservative intake, increase your health, and boost your local economy.