Cut Back on Processed Ingredients with These Easy Tips

Want to eat more real food made with whole ingredients? Check out these tips for cutting processed foods out of your diet.

Cook In Advance

One of the hardest parts of eating whole foods can often be finding the time to prepare food from those fresh ingredients. One way to cut down on that prep time is to cook in advance. Make a big batch of a dish cooked with quality ingredients, portion it out and either freeze or refrigerate it. Then, after a long day at work, you can simply pop the food into the oven or microwave, heat it up, and eat it – just like takeout or a frozen dinner, but way healthier.

Find Real Alternatives

Cutting out processed ingredients doesn’t mean that you have to totally cut out your favorite snacks and meals – you just need to make them from real foods! If you can’t find a recipe, search your natural or organic aisle for a brand approximating your processed treat. Just remember to read the labels, because non-processed food can still feature a ton of sodium, sugar, and fat.

Read Labels

You might be surprised to see how much “health food” contains tons of additives, preservatives, and other funky things you don’t know how to pronounce.

Read labels thoroughly and if something contains a super long list of ingredients or anything that sounds like you’d need a factory to make it, consider picking up something else.

Don’t Eat In the Car

If you picked up an afternoon snack at the gas station on your way home from work, odds are it was pretty processed. By not eating while you drive you can cut out two of the biggest sources of processed items: fast food joints and convenience stores.

If you know you’ll need a pick me up on your way home from work, consider packing something from home in the morning, like half a sandwich or some nuts and dried fruit.

Think Locally

Locally-sourced ingredients tend to be less processed (unless you have a huge industrial food economy in your town). Paying a visit to the farmers’ market, buying bread from a local bakery, and eating out at a local restaurant that uses fresh ingredients, rather than a chain, are all good ways to support your local economy and find food that’s fresher and tastier, all while minimizing your share of processed ingredients.

Don’t Overdo It

If you can cut processed foods out of your diet most of the time, that’s a serious step! But don’t hold yourself to unrealistic standards. If you absolutely love a certain kind of preservative packed potato chip but for the most part eat super healthy meals full of fruits, veggies, grains, and protein, it’s okay to indulge every once in a while.

It’s better to have that occasional foray into processed food nostalgia than to not bother with whole foods because it’s too hard to give up those treats!

How do you cut processed foods out of your diet? Share your tips with us in the comments section!

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-benefits-of-healthy-whole-foods
http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/10_ways_to_eat_clean?page=7
http://www.takepart.com/photos/avoid-processed-food
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20090323/7-rules-for-eating