We live in an era of speed. Everything including the food is preferred to be made fast. We make a lot of money and put most of our effort into it, but very less effort goes into making the food we eat. Let’s talk today about processed foods, which unfortunately plays a major role in our daily diet.
What are Processed Foods?
By definition, anything which is processed or modified from its natural state falls under the category of processed foods.
Here are some things you should remember about them:
- Most processed foods are not fresh. One of the major reasons of processing is to increase the shelf life
- Processed foods are usually rich is salt, sugar and fat
- Not all processed foods are not a bad choice. When taken in moderation, they are normally okay
Some examples of Processed Foods…
Here is a list of frequently used processed foods. You may be surprised to find some supposedly “healthy” foods making this list.
- Breakfast cereals
- Sweetened Fruit Juices
- Fried snacks like chips
- Frozen foods
- Tinned veggies
- Milk and more…
Here is a thumb rule to determine the amount of processing in a food:
Look at the ingredients in the food substance, especially the artificial ones. More the number of ingredients, higher is the processing that has gone into making the food
How to Optimize your Processed Food intake?
In this era of supermarket, you cannot avoid processed foods – unless you have regular access to farmer’s market or gardening your own food. Here are some tips to eat them wisely.
- Make the habit of reading the Nutrition table in every food item. Avoid foods that are rich in sugar, salt (sodium) and fat
- Replace processed foods from your breakfast with fresh alternatives. For example, limit breakfast cereals to once or twice a week and consume natural foods more often
- Reduce the quantity of processed food intake, if you cannot avoid completely avoid them
- Make your food at home more often using natural ingredients. Start with stuff which require minimum effort like salads!
- Switch to Organic whenever possible. Though not necessarily an inexpensive option, start with small steps like sugar, rice etc.
- Buy your Vegetables from a Farmer’s market if possible. Mostly they are locally grown and fresh, thereby requiring very less processing
We cannot completely get rid of processed foods, especially if living in cities. But understanding the processing that goes into the food we eat everyday is the first step. The next step will be to optimize the quantity of processing food intake. Final step is to maximize home cooking and make eating processed foods, including eating out, an occasional treat.