A recent study showed that majority of what Americans buy at the grocery store is processed food. Specifically 60% of all calories purchased. More than half! Not good at all.
SO what was is considered processed food?
In this study highly processed foods included prepared meals, white bread, cookies, chips, soda and candy. Unprocessed or minimally processed foods include fresh or frozen vegetables, fresh meat, milk, eggs and dried beans. Specifically I am talking about packaged foods/pre-cooked food (aka ultra processed), because majority of foods can be considered processed such as olive oil and nut butters.
Some processed food definitely does have its time and place. Everyone has a time that a granola bar or already prepared meal saved the day. It’s definitely better to have some nutrition than none at all. However, it is important not to become dependent on processed foods. If you find yourself with absolutely no time to make any of your three meals, then you may need to re-think your day!
So why should you stay away from processed foods?
Generally they have more sugar, fat and salt. Even ‘healthy’ processed foods like granola are loaded with sugar and weird ingredients. If you look at the ingredients of a processed food like cheez-its you will see so many ingredients and half of them you know what they are. Heavily processed foods usually have little to no nutrition, which is important especially since a lot of people are deficient in vitamins and minerals. Majority of the carbohydrates are refined carbohydrates meaning they are NOT whole wheat and are stripped of their fiber and vitamins and minerals. Processed food is also generally addicting, so when wanting only to eat a handful of chips you eat many many more.
Just like anything you do not have to give up processed food 100% This will be difficult and frustrating especially if you are a person who does not cook at all or is very dependent on processed food.
5 Tips for decreasing dependence on processed food
- Pick one meal (for example breakfast) and think of a way to make it more wholesome. For example make a bowl of oatmeal instead of eating a granola bar
- Plan plan plan! Plan your meals ahead of time so you get ingredients that you can actually make a meal with instead of taking a meal out of the freezer at the last minute
- Prep prep prep! Taking the time to cut up a bunch of vegetables or make your own energy bits will definitely stop you from grabbing a sugary snack
- Take time to read the food label and ingredients. This will help to make you more mindful of what you are purchasing
- Add fresh vegetables to your meals. Getting into the habit of including fresh vegetables with your meals will help steer you away from processed foods and you will soon become an expert at cooking veggies!
IF you want more tips or ides, check out 100 days of real food. I LOVE her site, and her recipes. I have made her whole wheat biscuits like a gazillion times!