There is never a better time to start being healthier than now. Many of us find ourselves overwhelmed with the desire to become healthier
, but most of us simply don’t know where to start. There is no need to partake in a fad diets to help lose weight. There are many relatively simple ways to become healthier.
Sure, simple is subjective to different people. But, there are actually many credible reasons why you should actively seek out these changes to your nutrition. We all know that fast food is awful for our bodies, but did you know that we are consuming other products that are wreaking havoc on our bodies, too?
In particular, you should eliminate processed foods from your diet. We will discuss five different reasons why you should do this, but first let’s discuss what qualifies as “processed food.”
The Real Deal on Processed Food
There are different levels of processing. For example, there are some foods that are more processed than others. Foods that are minimally processed include pre-packaged vegetables and nuts.
Manufacturing companies pack such foods for convenience. After all, it’s much easier to open up a bag of spinach instead of steaming it yourself.
Next, foods that are frozen, sealed and canned are moderately processed. For example, to keep certain vegetables and fruits, such as green peas at their peak freshness longer than normal, manufacturers purposely freeze them. However, this freezing process is just as invasive as it sounds.
Worse than the frozen and pre-packaged foods are those that are ready-to-eat straight from the packaging. These foods include deli meats, granolas, cookies and crackers – all of these products undergo heavy processing. However, nothing is more processed than frozen pre-made meals, such as frozen pizzas and frozen dinners.
Processed Foods: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
Now, if you knew nothing about processed foods, then you might be quite overwhelmed at the newly found fact that almost all foods are processed. While this list implies that we all should live from our own cultivated gardens, the term processed is not entirely a bad thing.
For instance, companies process certain foods to include more benefits, such as vitamins A
and D and fiber.
Frozen and bagged fruits and vegetables may be easier than cutting and cooking the fresh options, but dieticians claim these bagged fruits and vegetables are still a healthier alternative, compared to some of the other things that we eat. At the end of the day, a bag of frozen vegetables is a better alternative than a frozen pizza.
The take away is to become wary of these foods and their labels, and keep an eye out for the true evils of processed foods. Let’s talk about some of the dangers of processed foods, in addition to the steps you can take to eliminate these foods from your diet. Keep in mind that the processed foods we are suggesting you eliminate are the highly processed foods, such as frozen dinners and frozen pizzas, for example.
1. You Really Are What You Eat
You may not exactly turn into a frozen pizza, but you will certainly feel yucky if you binge on too many processed foods. Anyone who has eaten too many processed foods knows the feeling. There is the bloating, the lethargy, and just an overall weighed-down feeling. This fact makes the old adage, “You are what you eat,” ring true. So, why is it exactly that processed foods make us feel so bad?
Processed foods, such as deli meats, pastries, and some cereals are full of refined flour, sugar and preservatives. Believe it or not, these ingredients all have an effect on our mental and emotional well-being. Our bodies require antioxidants, vitamins and various minerals to help us feel rejuvenated and healthy; therefore, a diet
without them simply makes us feel disgusting.
If you feel as though this reason does not affect you, then keep following along as we have a few other compelling reasons why you should eliminate processed foods from your diet.
2. Your Body Has Trouble Burning Calories from Processed Foods
Most of us looking to eat healthier are also interested in losing some pounds
, and in order to lose weight, we must burn more calories than we take in. But did you know that your body’s ability to burn calories depends on the type of food you are consuming?
Studies show that our bodies take longer to break down processed foods compared to natural, whole foods.
In one particular study, scientists created two different cheese sandwiches: one sandwich was made using white bread and processed cheese, and the other was made using whole grain bread and real cheddar cheese.The participants who consumed the processed sandwich took twice the time to break down the sandwich and worse yet, they were immediately hungry afterwards.
Eating healthier, more natural foods helps our bodies feel fuller, and thus we eat less food. Do you still need a few more reasons to kick the junk food? Keep reading as we discuss some more compelling reasons to eliminate processed food from your diet.
3. You Can’t Believe Everything You Read
You can’t believe everything you read on an ingredient label, which is sad, but true. Often times, companies producing processed foods can’t possibly provide the correct caloric count on their labels, because this calculation is based on unprocessed ingredients; therefore, the amount of calories in any given food label does not include the processed ingredients.
Also, companies are now manipulating food portion sizes to make the label look good. Think about it: when was the last time you really analyzed the food label?
Chances are, we look at the amount of calories and call it a day. We really should start taking a look, though. Food companies are now shrinking portion sizes to allot for a smaller percentage of unwanted calories and trans fats, for example.
In addition, food companies can also stretch their definitions of “whole foods” on their labels. For example, a company may claim to offer a healthy product, which is comprised of whole grain.
However, in reality the flour may have originally began as a whole grain, but has now been processed into something quite different.
4. Better Insulin and Blood Sugar Levels
There is a link between processed foods and diabetes. Why is this? Well, processed foods tend to be low in fiber and high in carbs. Thus, they are easily digested. Processed foods also have filler ingredients to replace the healthy, expensive ones.
These fillers are not healthy. Also, almost all processed foods are contain sugars or artificial sweeteners, which are inarguably unhealthy for our bodies.
All of these unnatural ingredients work to spike blood sugar levels and inhibit proper insulin health. By cutting out all processed foods, your body will have healthier blood sugar and insulin levels. While exercise and physical activities also help promote healthy insulin and blood sugar levels, diet is the first step.
5. Reduced Cancer and Disease Risks
Once you eliminate processed foods and consume more whole foods, you will be taking in a variety of nutrients that protect against various types of cancers. Whole foods are rich in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals.
It is important for our body to get rid of these free radicals, because they can promote cancerous cells in our bodies.
Many studies have determined that diseases such as esophageal and stomach cancer are caused because of the consumption of processed meat. Other health conditions such as lung, prostate, testicular, kidney, and bladder cancer are also caused because of processed meat.
Eating foods filled with more nutrients will help promote proper digestion in the body and therefore help to fight against cancer. The shift from processed to a more whole foods diet can not only make a person feel healthier; this change can help save lives.
Three Easy Ways to Remove Processed Foods from Your Diet
The thought of where to start on this healthy, non-processed journey can seem overwhelming. Here are a few helpful tips to ease your way into a non-processed diet:
- Start Small: Rome was not built in a day. Work your way backwards, starting with the worst processed foods. Eliminate the frozen meals and chemically-flavored and colored foods form your diet first. These are relatively easy to find, so start there.
- Take Your Time: If you find that you and your family can’t cut everything out, then take your time. There is no rush, and every little difference counts.
If the kids wake up wanting Cheerios one morning, and you panic because they are processed, take a deep breath and work slowly.
It will be too drastic to change all of your habits too quickly.
- Educate Yourself: Chances are that your family or spouse will be opposed to this huge change in their lives; therefore, take it upon yourself to read up and educate yourself more on the matter.
If you are well-equipped with a plethora of facts and knowledge on the topic then you will inspire and influence others.
Making this change is admirable, but it does not need to happen overnight. Take your time and work at a pace that feels right for you. You are more likely to stick with a habit if you work your way into it, rather than going cold turkey and moving too quickly.
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