3 Easy Ways to Ditch Processed Foods For Good
Did you know there's more than one category of processed food??
Processed foods fall into one of 4 categories:
Minimally processed foods
These are foods that are pasteurized or the inedible parts have been removed, like buying pre-sliced watermelon or pineapple.
Culinary processed foods
Examples include oils from nuts and seeds or flours made from nuts, grains, or seeds
These are foods that have been combined with sugar, salt, or fats which can be eaten without any more cooking or preparation
Examples include canned fruits, canned fish, or bread
these are the really negative foods, they have been transformed beyond the additions of sugar, salt, or fat.
These foods have artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors or food dyes, and/or preservatives.
Its the last category that is the group we're talking about ditching for good. Ultra-processed foods are often the "just add water" type of preparation. Minimal prep and often minimal nutritional value. Classic examples are the boxes of cake mix and pre-boxed meals in the middle of the grocery store that you boil 2 cups of water, add the ingredients, and poof, you’re ready to eat it.
Research shows that ultra-processed foods have a strong link to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the body can lead to further health problems like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, weight gain, and strokes.
People with autoimmune or chronic conditions already fight chronic inflammation on a regular basis because our immune systems are fighting against us. I always say my immune system is overly excited to tackle whatever triggers the response, like powering a 5Watt bulb with enough dedicated energy to run the NY subway system, and yes I mean all of it, all tracks and trains. That kind of response rate is only enhanced by processed food.
It's a cycle, doomed to repeat itself, so no matter how well you eat 2 out of 3 meals a day if that one meal consists of ultra-processed foods, it may cause a spike in your body's inflammation.
Chronic inflammation not only causes other health conditions, but it can also cause brain fog, fatigue, painful joints, or muscles, and it can interrupt or prevent us from getting good quality sleep.
So what can you do? Ditch them for good with these 3 steps:
Step 1: Stop buying them.
This step may not come as a shocker. But how do we stop buying them?
Shop the perimeter.
It's a short and sweet guideline and easy to remember. Always shop the perimeter of your grocery store. This is where all the unprocessed or minimally processed foods hang out. This includes fresh fruit and vegetables, prepared fresh veggies and fruit, meats, dairy, seafood, in-store bakery items, in-store hot bars, and salad bars.
Step 2: Shop the Freezer Section!
The fruit and vegetables in the freezer section are often CHEAPER and TASTIER. And since they were destined for the freezer section, they are often picked at the height of the season so they pack an awesome amount of flavor and will last virtually forever at home in your freezer.
Not only that, but they can actually SAVE YOU TIME! They're already trimmed and ready to pop into whatever amazing dish you are making.
Step 3: Invest in a good quality crockpot or electric pressure cooker.
Most foods, if not all, can be cooked in a pressure cooker or crockpot. I recently bought an electric pressure cooker because the cost had come down (because they had a new model coming out). I'm so mad at myself for not buying one earlier.
Why didn't I? Two reasons: cost and I already had three crockpots (2 mid-size, 1 family size). Coincidently, my large, hand-me-down crock pot bit the dust the same week the electric pressure cooker arrived. So it was fate! And it has quickly become my hardest working kitchen appliance.
Am I kicking myself for not buying one sooner? Absolutely. I could have been eating amazingly tasty meals all under 30 minutes cook time for years!!
In fact, it’s cooking dinner for me tonight: Frozen chicken breast + frozen vegetables + herbs. This is the longest cook time meal I have because it’s all FROZEN. BUT it's still ready to eat in <40/45 minutes depending on how long I take on deciding what frozen vegetables and herbs to cook with my frozen chicken. I don’t bother defrosting meat anymore...again, time saver!
If you want more of my tips to ditch processed foods, eat healthier, and live a sustainably healthy life, sign up for my newsletter. Each week I deliver subscriber-only content, FREE. Previous member-only series have covered: metabolism, body confidence, inflammation, and sugar addiction.