Processed food is any food item that has been canned, cooked, frozen, pasteurized, or packaged.
You can enjoy many processed foods, including canned vegetables, frozen fruits, and pasteurized dairy products, as part of a healthy diet. However, some highly processed items are loaded with salt, sugar, additives, and preservatives, which can harm your health.
Here are 10 simple, sustainable, and realistic strategies to help you eat less processed food.
- Keep healthy snacks on hand e.g groundnut or cashew nut.
If you’re running short on time, grabbing a packaged snack on your way out the door may be tempting.
However, keeping your kitchen stocked with plenty of portable, nutritious snacks can make it much easier to make healthy choices on the go.
- Swap refined grains for whole grains
One of the simplest ways to reduce your intake of processed foods is to start trading them for healthier whole foods.
In particular, you can swap refined grains like white pasta, rice, bread, and tortillas for whole grain alternatives, such as brown rice and whole grain pasta, bread, and tortillas.
- Get creative in the kitchen
If you’re feeling adventurous, give your favorite processed foods a healthy twist by recreating them in your kitchen. This gives you complete control of what you’re putting on your plate while letting you experiment with interesting new ingredients.
- Drink more water
Sugary beverages like soda, sweet tea, fruit juice, and sports drinks are high in sugar and calories but low in essential nutrients.
Gradually trading these drinks for water throughout the day is a great way to cut back on your intake of processed foods and improve your overall diet quality.
Sparkling or flavored water are two great options if plain water isn’t your favorite beverage. Alternatively, you can try infusing water with fresh fruit or herbs for an added burst of flavor.
- Try meal prepping
Preparing meals in large batches once or twice each week ensures that you have plenty of nutritious meals ready in your fridge even when you’re too busy to cook.
It can also make it much less tempting to hit the drive-through on your way home or turn to frozen convenience meals when you’re pressed for time.
To get started, pick a few recipes to make each week and set aside a specific time to prepare your meals.
- Eat more vegetables
When you’re preparing meals at home, include at least one serving of vegetables to increase your intake of healthy, unprocessed foods.
This can be as easy as adding spinach to your scrambled eggs, sautéing broccoli for a simple side dish, or tossing carrots or cauliflower into soups or casseroles.
Vegetables are highly nutritious and great sources of fiber, which keeps you feeling full between meals to help decrease your appetite and curb cravings.