As a mom of three I know how difficult it can be to keep the processed foods out of the cabinets. I do my best to make sure the healthy options outnumber the processed choices but compromise on some items for the sake of peace and happiness.
There are several items that appear in the ingredients of the majority of processed foods that I would recommend avoiding if possible.
Artificial Colors and Flavors: manufacturers use artificial colors to enhance the look of their products. Many of these can be linked to allergic reactions, which can lead to symptoms like fatigue, hyperactivity and headaches.
Artificial Sweeteners: many “diet” foods contain chemically-derived artificial sweeteners to reduce the caloric content of the food, however, fewer calories doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for you. As an “artificial” product your body has difficulty processing the substance and ultimately it can have a negative impact on your metabolism.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): this has become a cheap alternative to cane and beet sugar and is often used to maintain freshness in baked goods. While it is derived from corn it is so highly processed that your body doesn’t digest it like normal food. Regular consumption of HFCS can lead to obesity, type 2-diabetes and high cholesterol.
Hydrogenated Oils: these are industrially created fats – yuck! They are often used because they are cheaper than other oils. The true danger is they contain high levels of trans fats, which can lead to a raise in bad cholesterol levels and heart disease.
MSG (Monosodium Glutamate): many restaurants use MSG to enhance the flavors of their foods and as a result stimulate appetites. The side affects of MSG may be headaches, nausea and weakness.
Refined Grains: if you see the words “enriched” or “bleached” step away from the package! Refined grains are often found in things like white rice, white pasta, white breads and low fiber sugar filled cereal. Instead look for foods that use the words “whole grain” or “oats” and ones that are high in fiber.
You might not be able to completely avoid processed foods, but you can at least try to make better choices for those foods.
If you first fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy products you’ll find you have less room for those things that aren’t good for you.