The term “processed foods” sometimes causes confusion since most foods are processed in some way. However, the term “processed food” usually refers to foods undergoing chemical processing. Foods with chemical processing have a mixture of natural ingredients and artificial substances. These artificial substances add unhealthy components, such as sugar and salt. If you want to improve your health or lose weight, then cut processed foods from your diet.
Weaning yourself from processed food has enormous health benefits. By eating healthy unprocessed foods, you can lower your risk of health problems like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and other conditions. If you are used to eating processed food, then giving it up may seem like a challenge. Do not try and cut processed foods out of your diet overnight as you need to wean yourself off processed foods gradually. Information on how to successfully give up processed foods is covered below.
Transitioning Slowly Is the Key
Cutting processed foods from your diet is often difficult due to how common processed foods are. When you are weaning yourself off processed foods, you need to be realistic with your goals. Set a pace you know you can keep up with.
If you try and cut too many processed foods from your diet at once, then you may end up feeling overwhelmed, leading to sudden cravings for processed foods. Start with slowly cutting out processed foods and replacing these meals with healthy alternatives. For example, add a portion of fruit and vegetables to each of your meals in the first week while still eating the processed food normally in your diet.
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If you are not used to eating fruits and vegetables regularly, then spend some time getting to know the flavors of these genuine foods. Examine the shape and texture of a piece of fruit before you put it into your mouth. Give it a good sniff as well. The flavors are even more intense if you do so.
You may be surprised by how tasty they are. Try eating a strawberry and then follow it with a strawberry-flavored candy and you are sure to notice the difference. If you give your palate time to change, then you gradually lose your addiction to sweet or salty processed foods.
Create Your Own Timetable
Once you have added more healthy foods to your diet, it is time to give up some of the processed foods you regularly enjoy. Omit a few products in the second week of your new diet and replace them with even more unprocessed substitutes. Keep doing this over several weeks and you eventually wean yourself off processed foods and learn to love the taste of natural foods.
Remember, there is no right or wrong for how long it takes you to gradually give up processed food. Work to your own schedule. A common mistake made by dieters is comparing their progress to others. If you compare yourself to someone with a different schedule, then you may feel like you are not making enough progress with your diet. This can cause frustration, which may lead to giving up on the diet since it feels like it is not working.
Control Your Cravings
While you are in the process of gradually cutting back on processed foods and putting natural foods in their place, you are sure to still have cravings for the processed food you are used to eating. There are ways of controlling these cravings. The best way is to plan your meals and snacks ahead of time.
Try to plan your meals and snacks at the beginning of each week. Buy your food for the week ahead and stick to eating only this food. By carefully purchasing your food, you do not have to worry about your house being filled with processed food to tempt you from your diet.
Avoiding processed foods is harder outside of your home since there are so many sources of buying processed foods. If you like to snack during the day, then make sure you bring healthy alternatives with you. For example, by having a banana on your desk at work for an afternoon snack, you are not tempted to purchase a bag of chips from the vending machine.
Make Sure You Eat Enough Protein
If you are eating sticks of celery instead of hamburgers, then you do not feel as full as when you were eating processed foods. It is important to make sure you are eating the right kinds of unprocessed food. The last thing you want is to feel lightheaded because you do not feel full.
It is vital you eat foods containing proteins to fill your stomach and stay energized. It may be tempting to fill yourself up with carbohydrates like potatoes and pasta, but protein foods are much better for you and actually make you feel full more than carbohydrates. Feeling full means there is less room and desire for junk food. Healthy sources of protein can be found in foods like:
Eating Fats Does Not Make You Fat
It is a myth eating fat makes you fat. The truth is your body needs fat, but it has to be the right kind of fat. Most processed food contains trans fats and saturated fats. These are not good for you and must be avoided in large quantities.
Be sure to replace those fats you are used to eating with fats your body requires. Eating foods like avocados and nuts makes your heart healthy and stop you craving the bad fats you used to eat. Other unprocessed foods containing healthy fats include:
- As with other high-fat dairy products, the fatty acids in cheese have lots of health benefits, such as reducing the risk of type two diabetes.
- Fatty Fish. Fish such as trout, salmon, mackerel and herring are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which have many health benefits including helping with mood disorders.
- Chia Seeds. These contain omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, about 80 percent of chia seeds are healthy fat.
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