Processed food may have a tight place in a healthy diet, but only when enjoyed in moderation. This food has been altered from its initial form, whether it be through canning, dehydrating, cooking, freezing, or packaging.
However, eating less processed food is somehow a privilege. Having access to fresh food is sometimes restricted by cost, location, and other factors. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat less processed food.
We’ve compiled a list of everything you need to know about the best alternatives to processed food, including nutrition tips.
Drink More Water
Of course, sugary drinks are the best, but did you know that they’re highly caloric and offer very few nutrients? Also, soft drinks, including sports drinks, lemonade, soda, and powdered drink mix, often come in single-use recipients, contributing to the huge amounts of plastic waste.
So, drinking more water and choosing a reusable bottle is not only good for your health, but you’ll support the environment, too.
TIP: infuse pitchers of water and herbs to enjoy throughout the day in place of sugary juice or soda.
Add Extra Fresh Food to Your Meals
To avoid ‘piles’ of heavily processed foods on your plate, fill it up with fresh vegetables!
Start with some easy veggies and fruits for meals for more essential nutrients. Here are some food options backed by dietitians:
- bulkier veggies into casseroles (or even taco filling, such as broccoli, carrots, etc.);
- spinach into eggs;
- breakfast potatoes;
- sliced fruit to breakfast oats.
These fresh goodies will take up more space in your meal and replace other less-healthy ingredients.
Also, veggies such as chard, spinach, kale, or chard can be cooked as an easy side (how about a yummy pasta sauce?).
TIP: keep some frozen vegetables to easily toss into the pan or pot.
The most important thing to do when buying packaged products at the grocery store is to read the labels! You can also compare the ingredients of products before deciding upon one.
DID YOU KNOW: there are 3 INGREDIENTS on the label that tell you what the majority of the product is made of: sodium + salt + saturated fat = a highly processed and not healthy product.