How do I Avoid Processed Foods?

If a food has been completely changed from the natural state that it was originally grown, then it is a Processed food.  They may have been changed in order to improve their shelf life, texture, flavour or profit level. We all know we should stay away from processed food, but it becomes difficult when we are unsure about what constitutes a processed food, and what is natural. The following is a list of the best ways in which to avoid processed foods:

1.    Check out the ingredients and see how many of them you actually know. If the foods you are buying have ingredients with a pile of numbers attached, or if the list of ingredients include too many unfamiliar names or chemical based names, chances are, it is highly processed;

2.   Try increasing your consumption of

whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, especially home grown ones. This way you will naturally decrease your consumption of processed foods;

3.    Be mindful of the quantity of ingredients in each product. Think about what you are actually eating and consider whether it would actually take so many ingredients to make that product. Why would it take over 15 ingredients to make bread when all you need is just a handful?

4.    Don’t believe everything you read or see on TV! Look at the ingredients to make sure it is really natural and healthful! Remember, marshmallows are marketed as 99% fat free, and we all know they are not healthy! So don’t just assume because it is marketed as a “health” product, low in fat or low in sugar that it is actually healthy!

5.    High fructose corn syrup, MSG, trans fats are clear markers for a highly processed food. Avoid these at all costs! Even be mindful of artificial sweeteners, fruit acid and nutrasweet. None of these are natural!

6.     Avoid take away foods such as French fries, hamburgers and pizza.  There is nothing healthy about them as they are all bursting with highly processed items in the oils, cheese and even the meat has processed products in the preparation of it.  The kid’s menu very often consists of hot chips, nuggets and processed white pasta.  Instead, make a meal up by ordering a baked potato and vegetables, or a small serve of wholemeal pasta with tomato based sauce;

7.    It is important to eat fruits and vegetables that are in season, this way you they are at their peak nutritionally (and cost effective).  The best way to get these are at the local farmer’s market, or even better still, grow them yourself to eliminate any use of pesticides;

8.    By making our own ‘treat foods’ such as cakes, muffins, biscuits, we are decreasing the consumption of processed foods as we prepare it with real butter, eggs etc rather than trans fats, preservatives and colour. Kids love to bake, so it can be a real treat to have a home baked cookie included in their lunch! Fill the cakes, muffins or biscuits with fruits and nuts to increase flavour and nutrition.



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