In this day and age of healthier eating and physical fitness, many people are making lifestyle changes to ensure that they (and their families) lead longer, happier lives. Proper nutrition plays a very important role in this category but unless you’re well informed about what proper nutrition is, this can make it difficult to know which foods to bring into your home and which ones to avoid. Processed foods in particular are among the main contributing factors to poor health and diet.
Before jumping headfirst into what steps need to be taken to minimize the amount of processed foods you and your family are consuming, it is helpful to first understand exactly what this type of food item is and why it is not included in the category of proper nutrition. What makes processed foods different from other food items we eat on a regular basis is that these products have been purposely altered from its natural properties. This is done in order to meet safety regulations and other guidelines as set by organizations like the FDA (Food & Drug Administration). The way such food items are altered to become processed foods include refrigeration, dehydration, canning, freezing and aseptic processing.
Much of the food items purchased at the grocery store on a daily basis are considered processed foods. Examples include but are not limited to: packaged cookies, canned foods, breakfast cereals that are high in sugar and flavoring, frozen dinners, certain meats and boxed dinners like macaroni and cheese.
Because these are all popular food items in the everyday household it may seem impossible to make the switch to healthier alternatives. However, the good news is that over the years more availability for healthier options has expanded and now gives families a better chance at incorporating proper nutrition without feeling like they have to give up on their favorite snacks and meals. No one says you have to give up all processed foods - it’s just a matter of knowing which ones are okay to consume and which ones could cause more harm than good for your daily diet.
Perhaps the easiest way to go about choosing the right processed foods to purchase is to opt for products that are not “highly processed.” These days, many food products come with a very informative nutritional label so it is important to learn how to read these labels to see if they contain keywords such as “fresh frozen” and “lightly processed.” Because the terms “all natural” or “natural” can be misleading and doesn’t always mean a product is made with natural ingredients, be wary of the way this term is used on a food item. Read the nutritional label to see if it has an unusually long list of hard to pronounce, scientific-sounding ingredients - this is a sign that the item is more than likely highly processed and should be left off your grocery list.
In addition to reading the nutritional label, make the effort to prepare your meals from scratch instead of reaching for a premade boxed version. Using fresh ingredients means consuming the food items at their highest peak of nutritional value and avoiding unnecessary fats, sodium and other harmful properties.
|Nutrition & Processed Foods|
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