It is an unfortunate fact that processed foods are a common part of the American diet. We are often looking for the most convenient options in our fast-paced lives and when it comes to eating, processed foods just fit into our schedules better.
The drawbacks to processed foods are that nutrients are lost, foods are filled with chemicals and additives, and normally healthy foods are loaded with preservatives like salt, sugars or oils in order to make them last for an eternity. In fact, the American Heart Association says that 75 percent of the sodium in the average American diet comes from salt added to processed or restaurant foods.
The health detriments of eating these foods go on forever, and eating whole, unprocessed foods is getting more attention as Americans begin to gain deeper insight of into how eating healthy today can lead to a healthier life tomorrow.
For those of us who wish to make the switch from the convenience of processed foods to the healthy choice of whole foods, and a longer, healthier lifestyle free from common health problems like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and other ailments will be within grasp. Here are some great ways to get more whole foods into your diet today.
Start Reading Labels
Generally whole foods will contain ingredients that you will have heard of or can actually pronounce. Foods that are processed will contain hints of processing in the ingredients list with items like sugar, oil, preservatives, corn or soy. Some foods that are processed will even be labeled as healthy or low fat, low carb, no trans-fat, etc. but the label will provide the best indication of what is in your food. Youll start to notice a lot of the foods that you eat are not actually what you think they are.
Be Picky In Your Restaurant Selection
Do your research before you eat out and find out what your favorite dining locations are using in their foods. Take a look at the menu online before you go to see if any of the foods listed are commonly processed and if there are ways to avoid them. If you are unsure of what is in the food you are eating you can ask your server to find out for you or request that your food be prepared without salt.
Substitute Processed Snacks With Fruit And Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are whole foods that can very easily be added to your diet in lieu of processed snacks like cookies or potato chips. Although it may be more expensive to eat whole foods that are certified organic - grown without pesticides or hormones - there are ways to eat healthy fruits and vegetables without the organic price tag. Familiarize yourself with the clean 15, or the cleaner non-organic foods such as asparagus, avocadoes, onions, and sweet potatoes if you want to avoid spending the extra bucks on organic foods.
Dine In More Often
Another way to ensure that you are eating healthy, whole foods is to cook them yourself. Selecting and cooking your own foods allows you to have full control over what goes into your kitchen and your body. Besides, food that is cooked from scratch tastes way better than food that comes out of the microwave or the local fast food joint.
Make A List Of Whole Foods You Like
If you and your family are accustomed to eating processed foods regularly it may be difficult to make the transition to whole foods. This is why it is important to start making a list of the whole foods your family likes so that you can be certain that they will enjoy these time and time again. When you go to the grocery store you will have a better idea of what your family will eat and this will allow you to transition them more quickly than cutting them off cold turkey.
Know About Condiments
Condiments are often overlooked processed food items because they are only used in small amounts. However great they may taste, the negligible amounts of condiments on your foods can result in significant health risks over time. Here is a list of five often overlooked processed condiments:
1. Ketchup- Thought your ketchup was just tomatoes? Think again. In addition to a normally healthy food, ketchup is loaded with massive amounts of sugar, sometimes MSG, and usually a nice dose of corn syrup.
2. BBQ Sauce- BBQ sauces are loaded with chemical fillers and preservatives like MSG, potassium sorbate, salt, flavor enhancers and genetically modified ingredients. In fact there is little real food in BBQ sauce at all.
3. Mayonnaise- Mayo contains one of the most harmful fats you can consume, soybean oil. These fats lead to obesity and heart disease in addition to reproductive problems.
4. Sour Cream- Sour cream often contains an ingredient that is banned in 27 countries in the European Union: genetically engineered bovine growth hormone rBGH. This single ingredient has been linked to increasing the risk of breast cancer in some studies.
5. Blue Cheese or Ranch Salad Dressing- These common chicken wing and salad dressing sauces often contain MSG, soybean oil, and artificial food dyes.
The ingredients in your food may startle you once you learn that they dont contain what you thought you were eating. Processed foods are not only unhealthy for you but they also have been linked to more serious, life-threatening illnesses. The decision to eat only whole foods and avoid processed foods as well as fast food chains is a lifestyle change for sure, but the benefits of healthy eating far outweigh the inconvenience of taking a little extra time to prepare your foods.