Processed food is any food item that has been canned, cooked, frozen, pasteurized, or packaged.
You can enjoy many processed foods, including canned vegetables, frozen fruits, and pasteurized dairy products, as part of a healthy diet. However, some highly processed items are loaded with salt, sugar, additives, and preservatives, which can harm your health.
Reducing your intake of these highly processed foods is one of the most effective ways to improve your health and enhance the quality of your diet.
In fact, when people ask me for nutritional advice, cutting down on processed foods is one of the first things I recommend.
Here are 10 simple, sustainable, and realistic strategies to help you eat less processed food.
1. Keep healthy snacks on hand
If you’re running short on time, grabbing a packaged snack on your way out the door may be tempting.
However, keeping your kitchen stocked with plenty of portable, nutritious snacks can make it much easier to make healthy choices on the go.
Some of my favorite healthy snacks include fresh fruit, mixed nuts, edamame, and veggies with hummus.
If you have extra time, you can also prep some simple snacks in advance. Hard-boiled eggs, turkey roll-ups, homemade kale chips, and overnight oats are a few great treats that you can whip up quickly and keep on hand for later.
2. Swap refined grains for whole grains
One of the simplest ways to reduce your intake of processed foods is to start trading them for healthier whole foods.
In particular, you can swap refined grains like white pasta, rice, bread, and tortillas for whole grain alternatives, such as brown rice and whole grain pasta, bread, and tortillas.
Not only are whole grains higher in important nutrients like fiber, but they’ve also been shown to protect against conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer (1Trusted Source).
3. Get creative in the kitchen
If you’re feeling adventurous, give your favorite processed foods a healthy twist by recreating them in your kitchen. This gives you complete control of what you’re putting on your plate while letting you experiment with interesting new ingredients.
For example, you can make veggie chips by tossing potato, zucchini, turnip, or carrot slices with a bit of olive oil and salt, then baking them until they’re crispy.
Other healthy alternatives to processed foods that you can whip up at home include chia pudding, air-popped popcorn, granola bars, and fruit leather.
Personally, I love trying to recreate meals from my favorite restaurants at home instead of ordering takeout. In addition to saving money, this makes it easier to eat more whole foods by loading up on ingredients like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and legumes.WERBUNG
4. Drink more water
Sugary beverages like soda, sweet tea, fruit juice, and sports drinks are high in sugar and calories but low in essential nutrients.
Gradually trading these drinks for water throughout the day is a great way to cut back on your intake of processed foods and improve your overall diet quality.
Sparkling or flavored water are two great options if plain water isn’t your favorite beverage. Alternatively, you can try infusing water with fresh fruit or herbs for an added burst of flavor.Read More