In a perfect world, we’d walk to the farmers market every day and buy our fresh, local foods for our daily meals. We would have lots of fruits and vegetables to go with our high quality proteins.
Unfortunately, most of us live far away from our food sources and we have an abundance of ready made foods at our disposal. Our conveniences have created a market for processed and packaged foods. These foods often contain large amounts of hidden fat, sodium and sugar.
If a food is dried, canned, frozen, baked or pasteurized, it’s considered processed. If it’s packaged, it’s likely processed. Processed foods often contain preservatives, artificial flavors, colorants and texturants. There are more than 5,000 substances added to our food. There are a lot of different types of process foods including cereals, milk, bread, cookies, deli meats, sodas and chips. Fast food restaurants serve processed food almost exclusively.
Processed foods often contain high amounts of sugar, fat and sodium to make the food taste better. This leads to high calorie food and eventually weight gain. The risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes all increase with high calories foods. These foods also lack nutritional value. Processing strips many foods of their basic nutrients. Foods often must be fortified with vitamins and minerals. Processed foods often become foods high in calories but low in nutrients.
Worse still, processed foods often become addicting. The calorie dense foods are designed to appeal to your taste buds and “feel good” hormones. The more you eat them the more satisfied you become. Unfortunately, the calorie rich foods will catch up with you. The excess caloric intake is often followed with a sedentary lifestyle. Weight gain is soon to follow.
It’s time to reduce the amount of processed foods you eat. Processed foods are ingrained in our way of life. It might seem very challenging to remove processed foods entirely, but it is possible. There’s a simple thing you can do to get started though.
Buy less packaged foods and substitute with raw whole foods.
If a food is packaged, it’s probably processed. Packaging includes boxes, plastic containers, plastic wrap, paper bags and cans. Realize that if it’s packaged, it’s processed. The goal is to replace a packaged food with a fresh, raw food. Simply buy more fresh and raw foods instead of packaged foods. For example, instead of buying a fruit juice in a bottle, buy a piece of fruit. Instead of drinking the flavored orange juice, eat the orange. Here are a few other examples:
- Swap potato chips for popcorn
- Swap mashed potato flakes for whole potatoes
- Swap white bread for homemade bread
- Swap candy bars for cocoa kale chips