Yes To A Healthier Lifestyle: 7 Tips To Avoid Processed Foods

Many modern diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart diseases, arise as a result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. To improve your personal health and keep away from these diseases and many other health problems, you’ll need to learn how to make healthier lifestyle choices—the most major and primary of which involves your diet. Choosing what you eat such that you stay away from processed food can make major positive changes in your health and well-being, and here are 7 tips to help you get started on that healthful track:

1. Avoid buying foods that are in bags, boxes and cans.

Anything pre-packaged has been modified somehow, typically with the aim of prolonging the food item’s shelf life. Unfortunately, while the food’s shelf life is lengthened, yours might very well be shortened with too much consumption of canned, boxed, or frozen food. Though utterly convenient, these food selections have been usually added with unhealthful preservatives and stripped of the natural vitamins and minerals the original, unmodified food item naturally contained.

2. Choose unprocessed, organic food over typically white ones.

As a general rule, most highly processed foods tend to be white—white bread, white rice, white flour. These products have been bleached, and in the process, they have been stripped of all the healthful nutrients and fiber they originally contained. Although some of these nutrients may have been added back to the food items after the bleaching process, the body may not be able to absorb as much of these added vitamins since they’re not the naturally occurring type. So go for whole wheat bread, brown or red rice, and whole wheat flour instead—the less processing a food item has undergone, the less nutrients have been stripped of it.

3. Shop more on the perimeter of the supermarket.

The outer edge of the supermarket typically houses those food items that are not processed, or at least just minimally so. Some supermarkets have aisles specifically labeled as “whole foods” or “fresh” sections. Spend more of your grocery-shopping time in these areas and get to meet many healthier alternatives to your current food choices.

4. The fewer ingredients, the better—avoid food with over seven listed ingredients.

The more ingredients a food item contains, the more it has been modified with preservatives or processed. Check the label and go for those varieties with the least number of ingredients, and also those with clear labels as to what the food item actually contains. Seeing ingredients you can’t even pronounce should raise warning flags—in fact, the most healthful foods are plainly presented as they are and thus don’t even have to be labeled with an ingredient list.

5. Read the ingredients and avoid those with any of the first three listed ingredients ending in 'ose' and those containing MSG.

The ingredients in the label are usually arranged such that the first ones listed are the ones most abundant in the food item. So if any of the first three listed end in ‘ose’—such as high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose— you’ll need to reconsider. The prefix ‘ose’ stands for sugar, and such ingredients are typically used for highly processed, highly caloric foods. Also steer clear of those containing MSG (monosodium glutamate)—though this is a flavorful additive, it still is an unhealthy preservative you’re better off not ingesting.

6. Avoid buying foods promoted with marketing gimmicks and coupons.

Cheap food and those with packaging labels containing elaborate marketing gimmicks are likely to be highly processed. Check the nutrition label for more reliable information of the genuine food content, instead of relying on promotional taglines that scream at you from the front label of the food item.

7. Gather healthy recipes and prepare as much of the meal as possible yourself.

Convenient food marketed as easy-to-prepare—like those just need microwaving or that come with a “just add water” tag—are typically highly processed ones. Convenience is a widely used marketing strategy for processed food, and many people fall for that trap. Don’t be one of them and instead start committing to personally preparing as much of your own meals as possible, relying on healthy recipes that call for fresh ingredients and simple cooking techniques to help you ship up a healthful meal in just about the same time it takes to stride into a fast food joint and order a value meal.

If you want to lead a healthier lifestyle, you’ll need to make some difficult choices initially, but it will get easier as you retrench old unhealthy habits and get used to new, healthy ones. Are you willing to take some pains so that you could gain the benefits of a healthier, fitter body and a longer life later on? Your answer to this question is even more important than just knowing the tips outlined above.

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