Are you guilty of regularly eating processed foods? Let’s get you back on track!
The average diet of most Americans is full of junk, processed foods, and foods that contain large amounts of calories with no nutritional value. Processed foods are any food items that have been canned, cooked, pasteurized, frozen, or packaged.
The promising news is that you can enjoy many types of processed foods, including canned vegetables, frozen fruits, and pasteurized dairy products, as part of a healthy diet.
Yet, some highly processed foods are loaded with salt, sugar, additives, and preservatives, which can harm your health. Lowering your intake of these foods is one of the most effective ways to improve your health and improve the quality of your diet.
The bottom line is that there are just too many people eating the wrong types of foods. This is why the health status within the US is going down fast. So check out 7 simple and realistic ways to help you eat less processed foods.
1. Keep Some Healthy Snacks On Hand
If you’re running short on time, grabbing some sort of packaged snack on your way out the front door probably sounds tempting.
However, keeping your kitchen stocked with lots of nutritious snacks you can grab can make it much easier for you to make healthy choices on the go.
Some great examples of a few healthy snacks include mixed nuts, fresh fruit, edamame, and veggies with hummus. If you happen to have some extra time, you can also try meal-prepping some simple snacks ahead of time.
For instance, a few hard-boiled eggs and some turkey roll-ups are a few great treats you can whip together quickly and keep on hand for later.
2. Choose Organic Whenever You Can
When you buy any kind of meat or poultry, try choosing the free-range, organic type. It might be more costly, but it’s definitely worth it.
Also, pick the leanest cuts of meat available. If you’re unsure, ask the butcher for some advice, and don’t forget to ask about what’s on sale for the week.
What else should you pick? On your next trip to the supermarket: buy a small bottle of extra virgin olive oil and some spices like garlic, chili powder, and pepper or curry powder.
To your cart, add some almond butter, a few cans of lentils, navy beans, or black-eyed peas, and some whole-grain crackers, avocado, stevia, and some spring water. This list should be enough to start your journey to a “No Processed Foods” eating experience.
So what about the cooking part? It all begins with planning what you’re going to make from day to day.
Our advice? Cook enough rice to last you a few days. One day you can add a can of beans, olive oil, and some spices. The next day, bake a few chicken breasts with the bbq sauce, steam some vegetables, and a big salad with avocado and nuts.
3. Stop Adding So Much Salt
Processed foods have a tendency to be extremely high in sodium. And even though it’s a necessary electrolyte, too much salt can negatively affect people’s blood pressure and other health factors.
One of the reasons we think processed foods taste better is because of their high salt content. Studies show that many US residents have a higher salt tolerance compared to other countries. People should get about 1,800mg of salt daily as adults.
Though Americans eat between one and three tablespoons of salt daily. That’s anywhere between 2,300 and 6,900mg. If we keep adding table salt to our homemade meals, there’s a good chance we’ll keep craving the taste of processed foods.
But if we stop oversalting our meals, eventually, our taste buds will revert to a point where processed snacks taste too salty for us.
4. Get Rid Of The Fast Food In Your Life
Regularly ordering take-out is a big NO-NO! If you MUST have it, order for a special occasion only. And when you do, look for healthier alternatives to that fried chicken, tacos, double burger, and fries. Most fast-food joints have somewhat healthier options.
If none of them appeal to you, try ordering smaller portions. Have a single burger with small fries and a water. It’s a compromise, granted, but at least you’ll be limiting the damage done.
And keep in mind: Once you’ve transitioned to more nutritious cooking and eating, the occasional fast-food meal or processed frozen entree will not be such a huge issue, but only if it’s occasional. Hold on to your willpower, and you’ll feel much better for it.
5. Make Homemade Versions Of Processed Food
One healthy and fun new activity you can try is to make some homemade versions of processed foods. Many foods can be made from scratch without needing all those extra chemical preservatives in processed foods.
The results? The foods taste similar and have an identical texture but lack any potential health side effects. You can look up recipes for your favorite processed foods online. Just about all foods have at least one organic formula available!
Take yogurt, for example. You can make your own special version at home with nothing but milk and some existing organic yogurt. Also, try making hummus by buying raw chickpeas at the supermarket.
Processed salad dressings can be recreated using vinegar, vegetables, and other in-house ingredients. Mayonnaise can be made by mixing egg yolks, mustard, salt, vinegar, oil, and lemon juice.
There are also many ways to make ketchup out of tomatoes, which cuts out the massive amount of artificially added sugar in processed ketchup products.
6. Clean Out Your Kitchen
If you’re truly serious about cutting out all those unhealthy processed foods, then it’s time to clean your kitchen! This can be daunting, but the great news is that you don’t have to do it all at once.
You can clear one shelf of your pantry at a time or simply do a quick pass through your fridge to get rid of anything that has expired. When cleaning your kitchen, you should look for foods with ingredients you don’t want to consume anymore.
If possible, you should donate them to a food bank. The exception is if any food is past its expiration date, in which case it should be thrown out immediately. When restocking, you should keep your new unprocessed goals in mind.
7. Keep A Checklist To Keep You Healthy And Away From Processed Foods
Here are some tips to help you stay on track:
- Make sure you always have enough food that’s made in advance. You should make sure you never go hungry and be sure to eat something about every three to four hours.
- Go shopping every two to three days and only buy enough food to last that long. Try out your local farmer’s market for the freshest foods at the best prices.
- Look up some fast but straightforward healthy food recipes you can try and repeat often. Stick to the healthy foods, but ones you actually like. Do you have a deep-fryer? If so, get rid of it and never use it again! Try a sprinkle of honey or stevia over some fruit if you crave something sweet.
Following our tips, you’ll notice that you’re starting to feel better, and you’ll have more energy in a few short weeks. You may even notice that your bowel function will begin to normalize, and you’ll find that your level of concentration will even improve.
Another bonus? You’ll start sleeping better, and your weight might also begin to go down. All thanks to replacing those nasty processed foods with clean, whole foods in your diet.
We hope these little tips and tricks on avoiding processed foods have helped you. But for some more helpful nutrition tips, we also recommend reading: 6 Toxins in Food That Should Concern You