In this guide on how to avoid processed food, we list five of the top ways to cut down your consumption of this type of food that can be so bad for your health. Bearing that in mind, we detail why we should avoid processed food in general and how food preparation meal kits solve many of the issues that cause people to eat too much junk food or processed food in the first place. Our article looks at our recommendations for the best food preparation service companies at the moment.
Why We Should Avoid Processed Food
There is no denying the negative effects that processed food has on us, our bodies and our health. A healthy, well-balanced diet is a key way, along with exercise, to keep our bodies functioning at their most efficient. When we eat processed food, it is often lacking in the goodness that we need, while often being laden with bad fats, salts, and sugars, that lead us to feel sluggish and lethargic – among many other things.
The repercussions of eating too much-processed food are long-lasting, too. Not only do we have a lack of energy, so we exercise less, the food itself is likely to be far too calorific in terms of what the food is as well as portion size. This inevitably leads to weight gain that then has further repercussions on our health. Being overweight is bad for our joints so it causes arthritis, affects our heart and circulatory system as well as causing respiratory problems that can make breathing difficult. In addition to these lifestyle effects, processed foods have been seen to cause diseases such as type 2 diabetes to name one of many.
Therefore, by cutting out processed food from our diet, we are helping to maintain our bodies – and minds – so that we can lead a longer, happier and healthier life.
1. Meal Preparation Services
Meal preparation services are a fairly new entity on the market at the moment but they are a fantastic way of easing the age-old problem of how to avoid processed food.
They work by having people sign up to a subscription service for a box of food each week in addition to recipes and a meal planner. In that box are the exact ingredients, separated, that are needed to make the recipes that a customer has chosen to eat that week. While the customer, on the whole, will still need to prepare the food into meals themselves, the ingredients are at least fresh and free of all the added sugar and salt that processed food more often than not has.
There are a variety of companies that offer this service and within those companies, there are a variety of different meal plans that potential customers can sign up to. This means that if customers want to follow a low-carb diet, they can do as well as being vegetarian or vegan.
The huge bonus is that customers cut out all the added extra ingredients that are bad for our health and know exactly what is in their food so they can take a bigger ownership of their diet and the impact that it has on their bodies.
Here are some of the top meal services you can order today:
- HelloFresh – The ultimate in food prep delivery services, no cooking is needed! (from $8.74 per serving)
- Home Chef – Straightforward recipes provided that even a novice can follow (from $9.95 per serving)
- Freshly – One of the cheaper meal prep services on the market (from $8.99 per serving)
Using meal delivery services is one of your best options to avoid processed food. Learn more about how you can choose the best meal delivery service.
2. Cook Junk Food
We all have cravings for pizza, fries, and burgers at times. If we only have those cravings once in a while, then, in general, it won’t materially impact our health over the course of our lifetime. However, if we continually and regularly eat junk food then this is when it becomes a problem for our bodies with some fairly long lasting effects.
One way to keep a handle on our junk food needs is to make that junk food ourselves. Some are quicker and easier than others, but there are two positives from taking the time to prepare our own food. Firstly, you know what’s going into your own food. It means you can keep tabs on the amount of salt and sugar that is added to your meals as well as the quality of the meat and produce you are using. Realistically, for example, the meat that you make a burger with at home will be far better than a fast food chain’s meat.
Secondly, it will probably stop you eating as much junk food too. If you often have a hankering for chips or fries, the likelihood of you regularly peeling and cutting up potatoes ready for the deep fat fryer is probably a lot lower than if you allowed yourself to go out and buy some fast food shop fries. Plus you have more options available to you in how to make junk food that little bit healthier – for example as opposed to deep fried chips, you could oven bake some sweet potato wedges with some flavorful smoked paprika on top.
3. Read The Ingredients List
Unfortunately, simply looking at the number of fat grams, calories and sugar in a packet of food are not enough to stay healthy any more as manufacturers put more and more nasties into their food in a supposed effort to improve food flavor but also shelf life. Simply by reading the ingredients list on the back of a packet of pre-made meals or packaged up food is enough to put you off eating them sometimes. It makes for pretty confusing reading owing to the number of additives and other added extras that food manufacturers throw in to even the most simple sounding of meals.
Pre-packaged sandwiches are a good place to start. Often all the ingredients will have some form of preservative added to it so that it can sit on a shelf for a day or two, if not more, without going bad. If you were to make a chicken salad sandwich at home, you would have around five ingredients in your meal – chicken, bread, lettuce, tomato and some form of the spread. If you buy that from a shop where it is prepackaged, you can expect to have at least five times the number of ingredients listed. Most of which you won’t have heard of.
4. Buy Bread From A Bakery
Some diets advocate cutting our bread, but it is fine to eat as long as you are aware that store bought, mass produced bread is one of the main perpetrators of processed food – whether it is white, whole grain or whole wheat. Just take a look at the ingredients list on the back of your bread packet and see why. To make bread, all that is really needed is flour, water, and yeast. Obviously, bakers can add seeds or other ingredients to add flavor, but bread certainly does not need what most mass producers add to it to lengthen the shelf life of their goods.
To get around this problem, you can obviously make your own bread or, more realistically, try buying it directly from a bakery that won’t stuff it full of additives and other unnecessary ingredients. Your gut will thank you as the lack of processed food make this type of bread far easier to digest than others.
5. Batch Prepare Food On A Sunday Night
This is a tough habit to get into, but it can be a total life changer once you have adopted it. Batch preparing food on a Sunday night can really make a difference to your overall diet and how well you eat. If you have food already prepared, which is far easier and quicker to do en mass in one go on a Sunday night for the rest of the week, you are far less likely to pick up what is perceived as quick and easy processed food that can wreak havoc with your insides and otherwise.
While it does take some planning to have a whole week of meals prepared in advance, or at least semi-prepared in advance, you will find it easier not to fall into the bad habit of eating on the go or from convenience stores. This is especially true of lunchtimes. If you have lots of salad type items ready prepared in your fridge, it is so easy to throw them together and whack them into a Tupperware to go to work with you for a packed lunch, as opposed to buying something from a shop that has more salt in than you should eat over an entire week.
The Bottom Line
When you are in the habit of eating processed food, it can be a difficult habit to kick – but it is far from impossible. Services like those offered by HelloFresh, Freshly and HomeChef are quick and easy wins to start you on the right track. By eating freshly prepared meals every evening, that also minimize food waste as all food prep services offer portion control as a natural result of being able to plan meals in advance, you will soon start to notice the effect on your health through how your body and mind feel. You will have a lot more energy and far more concentration.
Once you have started eating well with these services, you won’t want to go back to eating processed food. Often because the sole reason you started eating processed food in the first place – the ease of it – will have been removed. Meal preparation services could not be easier to use as they deliver the food straight to your door and allow you to plan what you eat in advance.