Processed foods contain preservatives which help extend their shelf life. They also contain artificial colors, flavors and textures. To improve taste, they are filled with artificial sweeteners, sugar and salt. All of these things zap your energy levels, make you gain weight and can contribute to diabetes and heart disease.
It is easy to be fooled into thinking that low-carb, low-fat, vitamin fortified, or no trans-fat foods are good for you. Processed foods are everywhere, so it can be a little overwhelming to get started back on the right track to eating real food.
Some easy steps for eating “real” food:
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store – specifically fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and fish.
- Don’t be fooled by marketing adjectives such as healthy, low-fat or added vitamins.
- Buy whole grain products such as wheat bread, pasta, crackers or rice.
- Start reading ingredient lists on food items you purchase, and if you don’t recognize an ingredient, leave it on the shelf. Try to find 5 ingredients or less.
- Instead of going thru the drive-thru at lunch time, double what you cook at home and use left overs for quick lunches.
- Avoid the kiddie menu which is typically filled with highly processed foods such as chicken nuggets, fries, pastas or cookies.
- Grocery shop together and cook with your kids so that they can learn to make wise “real food” choices.