It is well known that processed foods are bad for a healthy lifestyle and while there really are over 100 different reasons to stop eating them, processed foods are everywhere.  Getting these out of your diet is not as hard as you might think, though. First, do you know what processed foods are and what they contain? Most processed foods are of the quick and easy variety of foods that come in a jar or are prepackaged. Processed foods are usually high in trans-fat and saturated fat, high in sodium, and also a lot of added sugars like high fructose corn sugar which has been found to be very detrimental to your health. Snack foods like candy, crackers, and cookies are loaded with sugar and fall into the processed food category. Salad dressings, breakfast cereals, canned soups, pasta sauce, flavored yogurt, and even granola bars which might look healthy on the outside, but just look at the label and see what is inside. It is easy to fall into the processed foods cycle because most of these packaged foods are convenient for those who do not have a lot of time to cook. However, there are some ways you can get away from processed foods and still make easy and healthy choices. Once you stop eating processed foods, not only will you look better if you are on an exercise plan, but you will feel healthier too. So what can you do to ditch processed foods for good? The first thing is to be aware of what you are buying and be a little more label conscious. If you see something that is in a bottle or it says it is all-natural, then take a look at the label. How much sodium does it have? How much sugar? It is better to go for all natural foods or even make things like yourself. Let me break down some of these things for you so that you can get some ideas on how to create your own things instead of buying processed. While I can’t list everything in one article, I can go through the major processed foods that everyone buys, and some healthier alternatives.

  • Salad Dressing – Simple salad dressings are so easy to make and you can really get creative. Take some basic things like red wine and vinegar and add some of your own fresh herbs for an amazing vinaigrette or mix some minced garlic with some Dijon mustard together for a better than store bought dressing. Mix plain natural ingredients together and the sky is the limit.
  • Breakfast cereals – There are a lot of recipes online for making your own homemade granola cereals and adding raisins or dried cranberries or any other kind of dried fruits.
  • Canned Soups – Canned soups can have the highest levels of sodium than any other processed food on the shelves. Buy fresh veggies and a few herbs or natural spices and make your own with a lot less salt and you will not have any added chemicals.
  • Pasta Sauces – One of my favorites and easy to make are homemade pasta sauces like taking tomato sauce, adding some oregano, basil, pepper, and any other kind of spice that suits your taste. Don’t feel bad adding a pinch of salt. It is likely you will have a ¼ less sodium in your homemade pasta sauce that a store bought sauce.
  • Flavored Yogurt – This is one that everyone falls for and just because it is yogurt, it does not mean it does not have anything added if it has fruit or is fruit flavored. A lot of flavored yogurt has preservatives and artificial coloring added to add to its appeal but those things are not good for your body. Try buying unflavored yogurt and mix in some fresh berries of your choice or even apples, bananas, and cherries. Add a few fruits and get creative and you will be surprised at how good your yogurt is with fresh fruit.

With a little creativity and staying knowledgeable on what’s inside the food you buy, you can be well on your way to ditching processed foods for good in your diet!