Processed foods, or convenience foods, are foods that have been changed in some way, shape or form to make them easier and cheaper to eat. In order to make these changes, most of these convenience foods have been highly processed in some manner.
There are some easy ways to wean your family off a diet of processed foods. See below for these simple tips:
- Cook at home, don’t eat out. This is the “golden rule” of not eating processed food. If you really want to change your family’s diet, you are going to have to cook at home. This means you will have to plan ahead for lunches at work or at school, and so on.
- Strive for at least two fruits/or vegetables per meal. If that task seems too daunting, start with one meal of the day and then increase over time to include all meals.
- Snack smart. Instead of reaching for a box of crackers or a bag of chips, learn to snack on real food. Fresh grapes. Cheese. A few almonds. Re-program your mind to think that the best snacks don’t come in packages, bags or wrappers. The best snacks are fresh and come from something that was once living. Learn to love fruits and veggies for snacks! The best way to avoid snacking on processed foods is not to not even bring it in to your home in the first place. Practice extreme restraint at the grocery store.
- Quit soda, juice and other potentially unhealthy beverages. Limit yourself to coffee, tea, water and milk as much as possible on a daily basis. You can allow yourself to have a juice a few times per week, but make sure it isn’t loaded with excess added sugar or other additives.
- Cut back on the meat. Try a few meat-free meals this week, and then gradually increase the frequency of the no-meat meals. Learn to enjoy the other food offerings just as much as you enjoyed the meat.
- Don’t buy foods with the labels “low-fat,” “reduced fat” or “light”. These foods, while they appear healthy, are usually heavily processed.
- Avoid all things artificial. Don’t buy products that have any non-food ingredients added in. No added sweeteners. No added fake flavorings. No colors and dyes. You’ll become an ace at reading labels and will find that some of the best foods don’t even have a label.
- Follow the five-ingredient rule. Avoid anything pre-packaged, boxed, canned or frozen that has more than five ingredients total. And if you can’t pronounce or spell any of the ingredients on the label, put it down and walk away.