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The Low Down on Processed Foods

No Processed Foods.jpg

So now that we established that we want to eat more real foods during the challenge, we can talk about what we want to eat less of… processed foods.

Processed foods are man made or manipulated. They are like the opposite of real food. They usually come in packages, need nutrition labels, and have ingredient lists. They don’t usually resemble anything you’d find in nature. Some processed foods include…

  • Baked goods & processed grains like bagels, tortillas, breads, pastas, chips, cookies, cakes, etc.

  • Convenience/ready to eat foods like cereals, frozen meals, & energy bars

  • Processed meats like deli meat, cheeses, bacon, sausage, salami, etc.

  • Processed fats & oils like canola oil and vegetable oil. This also includes stuff made with these oils like packaged salad dressings, other condiments, and fried foods.

Processed foods are EVERYWHERE these days. They can be full of chemicals, and other man made stuff that we’re not even sure our bodies can handle. Not only that, but because of all this fake stuff… they taste… so… good. I mean how could they not? Processed foods are manufactured to taste better than real foods with extra sugar and added fats so that you’ll buy more of them… and let me tell you, it usually works. To top it all off, your taste buds get used to all those added stuffs which makes real food taste bland and flavorless.

All hope is lost. … JK! The good news is your taste buds are constantly changing and cutting back on the processed foods can change your taste buds in a big way so that we can start to appreciate the subtle and not overdone flavors of real foods again! HOORAY.

So, How Do We Avoid Processed Foods?

  • Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store.

  • Food prep. Processed foods are often times what we reach for in a pinch because they’re easy and then we get addicted or used to them. A perfect way to combat that is to be prepared with real, whole food snacks prepped in your fridge. Think about cooking extra meats, poultry, and hardboiled eggs for a quick snack. Portion out nuts and seeds with some fresh berries into little snack ziplock bags to eat as is or grab and go with a plain greek yogurt!

  • Don’t get too hungry. Humans are weak. That’s a fact. If you’re STARVING you’re way more likely to crave something sweet and then before you know it you’ve downed that entire box of cookies that was calling to you from the pantry. Eat real foods at pretty regular intervals throughout the day and you won’t feel as strong an urge to splurge on all things processed!

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Eat Real Foods

Real Foods.jpg

Now before we get into some of the things we want you guys to limit during the challenge, we wanted to put an emphasis on the real goal of the be better challenge… to eat more real foods!

You might be saying “Guys, what are real foods? What on earth are you talking about?” Well, real foods are just that… they’re real. They don’t usually come in a package or a box. They almost never have an ingredient list. They definitely aren’t made by man or processed in a factory. They usually come from the ground or from an animal.

Real foods are what you want the bulk of your diet to be made up of. They include meats, fish, whole fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Real foods are the food without anything added to it. It’s the thing that came out of the ground, or was picked off a tree, or was walking in a pasture or swimming in water. Don’t think about it too much, real foods are just real.

Tips to Maximize Realness

  • Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store. They keep most of the real stuff around the outside of the grocery store… produce, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, etc. That’s because real foods don’t have a super long shelf life (aka they go bad eventually) while processed foods can sit on a shelf and stay exactly the same for a long time because they’ve been pumped with chemicals to prolong their life.

  • Learn how to read nutrition labels & ingredient lists. Knowing what you’re looking at is huge when considering whether a food is one you should be incorporating into your daily diet.

  • If it has an ingredient list, especially one longer than 5 items, steer clear. This means that food is DEFINITELY processed. Also try to avoid added sugars and sweeteners in foods… more on this later though.

Things Commonly Mistaken as Real Foods… that aren’t

  • deli meat & cheese

  • tv or frozen dinners

  • foods that are fried in processed oils (chicken fingers, french fries, etc.)

All right, that’s enough. Go get eating!

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