This is the time of the year that many of us are making our New Year’s resolutions. Exercise more, spend more time with family, watch less TV, and take better care of ourselves are all commitments that appear on many lists but I would wager that eating healthier holds the number one spot for most.
Here is a list of 8 quick tips to eating healthier and avoiding processed foods.
1. Cook– It really is that simple. Unless you are a food scientist working for a major food processing company, you don’t have access to many of the harmful additives found in processed foods. Cooking is the easiest way to be sure you are eating whole, real foods. Meals taste better when they are home cooked too because ingredients can be adjusted to taste.
2. Plan ahead– Most of the time when we reach for a processed, packaged meal we are busy and out of time to do anything else. With a bit of forethought, you can have ingredients or whole meals ready to go when you get home.
One easy trick is to set a day of the week for meal planning and shopping. Begin by planning 2 to 3 meals the first week, get all of the ingredients, and when you get home prep all of the food without cooking. If you need a chopped onion two days, chop 2 onions and store in the fridge until you need it. Do the same for carrots, celery or any vegetables you will need that week. You can also marinate any meat you may be using. That way, when you get home you only have to cook and the labor has already been done.
Another trick is to cook double or triple batches and freeze leftovers. This is very handy for times you just don’t feel like cooking or have a busy couple of days where getting into the kitchen is out of the question. All you have to do is simply look in the freezer and pull out a meal that sounds good to you.
3. Shop at your local farmer’s market or green market– There are no processed foods there so you are sure to purchase whole foods. Plus you are supporting your local economy. Another bonus is that farmers are generally very happy to share with you how to cook their produce. Getting to know your farmers and your food source can be very motivating to continue to buy their goods!
4. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store– If a farmer’s market is out of the question and a major supermarket is where you pick up your groceries, be sure to shop the perimeter of the store. This is where the fresh, whole foods are organized. Shop as little as possible in the middle of the store as that is where most of the heavily processed foods are stored.
5. READ LABELS! — This is a biggy. Avoid foods with more than 5 (10 at the most) ingredients and ingredients you cannot pronounce. Processed foods are filled with chemical flavorings, preservatives, colors and sweeteners. It is best not to put those into your body.
6. Avoid labels that say low-fat, no-fat, lite, light, fat free, or reduced fat– Right away you know that these have been processed as whole foods are just what they are called, whole!
7. Skip the boxes, bags, and cans altogether– If a food is packaged it is just that, packaged food. These foods are heavily processed and could have additives, been bleached, dehydrated, rehydrated and enriched to make up for the nutrition and real flavor lost during processing. These are not foods your body recognizes as food and can do real harm over the long term.
8. Make homemade snacks and treats– As Activist and author Michael Pollan said, “eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” I bet you would eat a lot less chips, fries, cereal, and candy and drink a lot less soda/pop or sugary drinks if you had to make them from scratch each time.
My hope is that you begin with one or two of these tips to help you eat better. Avoiding processed foods could be one of the biggest and most beneficial steps you can take for your health!
Elwin is also the Founder of Complete Detox Academy, Taoist Health Academy, the Health Coaching Institute and High Energy Academy, as well as the author of 'the Easy Exhaustion Cure' and 'the 4 Step Safe and Effective Detox Action Plan'.
Elwin is highly Enthusiastic about empowering people to feel Energized, Joyful and Alive, Naturally and Sustainably, and has worked over 5 years with over 1000 clients towards this goal. Elwin is particularly passionate about working with clients who are highly committed to reaching high levels of Health, Energy and Wellbeing, by natural and sustainable means.
Elwin has always been interested in Health since childhood. With a mother who had cancer 4 times, and a father with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Elwin is determined to get to the Root Causes of what really creates Disease, and what it really takes to have Outstanding Health and Wellbeing. After suffering from Health Challenges all his life, Elwin became determined, in 2007, to 'Get his Energy back or Die Trying', and, with this level of Resolve, made rapid progress, after a few false starts, which led him naturally, organically, after many requests, to dedicate himself full time to helping others get the kind of Results that he had achieved.