8 Diet Tips for Cutting Out Processed Foods and Sugar
We can’t avoid the facts any longer, sugar is an unhealthy and even dangerous food choice. If you want to embark on a healthy eating program this summer, cutting out processed foods and sugar is the first and most important step in the right direction. Here are some tips to ease you into the process.
In a perfect world, we’d all be growing our own veggies and be on a first name basis with the guys at the farmers’ market. But life just hasn’t worked out that way for most Americans.
We live in a fast-paced world and that means we need to be able to fuel fast, too. Often times, we turn to pre-packaged foods and ready-made dinners that we can pop in the microwave.
It’s no secret that whole foods are better than processed foods. That’s old news by now. But the real struggle comes in when we try to implement what we know to be better for us into our daily, busy lives.
Cutting out processed foods isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. Read on to learn more about how to do it.
What is “Processed Food”?
Before you can start cutting out processed foods, you have to understand what it is. But processed food is anything that isn’t in its natural state. This means that even something you buy at the store with a short, clean ingredients list still counts as processed foods.
That’s where your own judgment comes into play. There are some “processed” foods that are better than others. The bread you pick up at the grocery store with a list of weird ingredients is a lot more “processed” than the bread you buy at the farmers market.
1. The First Things to Cut
Head to your pantry and look at some of the ingredients lists. If they’re incredibly long, odds are that they’re the kinds of processed foods you want to stay away from. If you don’t know what it is or if you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not the best thing for your body.
Luckily, the most obvious things are usually off limits. Say no to microwave meals, bags of chips, candy, and soda pop.
2. Small Steps
It’s so tempting to just put the pedal to the metal when it comes to making a change like this. But with something like processed foods, it’s a good idea to take it slow and go easy on yourself.
There’s a big difference between a ready-made lasagna you microwave and a jar of tomato sauce. Technically, both of these things are processed. But when you actually go through the process of cooking, you’re getting yourself in the habit of making food on your own.
That’s the first step, it’s really that easy.
3. Choose Whole, Fresh Food
Juices and dehydrated fruit taste great because they’re chock full of sugar. But the real benefit you get from eating fruit gets lost when you eat them in these mediums.
That’s why it’s a good idea to always choose food that is whole and fresh. A good rule of thumb is that the closer your food is to when it was first picked, the better it is for you.
4. Meal Prep
One of the big struggles with eating healthy, whole foods is the time it takes to prepare them. That’s why it’s generally a great idea to get into the habit of meal prepping.
Plan your breakfasts and lunch for the week on Sunday and spend some time in the kitchen that day cooking them up. Store things in easy to grab containers and you won’t be tempted to run to the convenience store and pick up a junky snack when you’re hungry on your way home from work.
5. Drink Water
This is always the first bit of advice people give you when you are looking to eat healthier. It’s solid advice, but it’s often hard to follow.
When we drink a lot of coffee and soda, our brains become hardwired to crave these things and it can be very hard to stop drinking them.
If you’re going to drink coffee, drink it sweetened with a little honey or 100% maple syrup and don’t use artificial coffee creamer. And if you crave the fizzy sweetness of soda, try carbonated lemon water instead.
6. Nutrition Coach
If you are having a hard time finding or sticking to a diet plan that works for you, consider getting a nutrition coach. These coaches can help guide you in making these decisions, but they can also help hold you accountable. You can learn moreabout nutrition coaches here.
7. Go Easy On Yourself
It’s so easy for us to hold ourselves to too high of a standard. Often we are trying to change a lifetime’s worth of poor health habits overnight and that’s just not possible.
Your journey is going to be full of stumbles and falls and that’s okay. Try to change how you think about it.
Instead of saying that you’re “cutting out all sugar and processed foods” say that you’re cutting back. And leave a little wiggle room for yourself.
8. Make it Fun
If cutting out processed foods is starting to feel like a chore, you’re going to quit. After a while, doing the same thing over and over will get boring. So mix it up.
Try different meals, make your own versions of your favorite processed foods, and spice things up a bit. Open your foodie heart up to new cultures and the food that they eat. There are so many ways that you can cut down on processed foods and still eat the things you love.
Cutting Out Processed Foods and Sugars
Without a doubt, cutting out processed foods and sugars is a challenge. Everywhere we go, we are met with advertisements telling us to eat them. The grocery store is stocked with more processed junk than it is with actual healthy food. But with a little effort and the will to stick through it, you can make this change and lead a healthier life.
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