Avoiding processed foods can be a real challenge, especially when you are just beginning your Real Food journey. Between clever marketing tricks and the lure of your favourite packaged foods, eating Real Food and avoiding the processed ones is a minefield!
Here are 6 ways you can avoid processed foods.
1. Eat more whole (real) foods.
This is called ‘crowding out’. Instead of focusing on the foods you no longer want to eat, focus on the ones you can. Add more vegetables to your meals – vary the type and how you cook or prepare them. The more real food you eat, the less you will feel like eating processed foods (yes, this WILL happen!) and the less you have to worry about getting enough nutrients into your body (or your children).
2. Shop at the grocer, the baker and the butcher rather than the supermarket.
Before the supermarket, most people bought their foods from separate shops. Now while they didn’t have the choice of products we have now, you can avoid being tempted by them (and save yourself some money too) by only shopping at smaller retailers. This is also a great way to get to know your local butcher or green grocer which also makes your connection to where your food comes from even stronger.
3. When eating out with kids, don’t order from the “Kids Menu”.
9 times out of 10, your options will be highly processed fish or nuggets and chips or perhaps a pizza sub and these usually come with some kind of processed juice too. Instead, order an entree sized meal or share a main meal between 2 kids.
4. Make your ‘snacks’ in your own kitchen.
If you want a sweet or savoury ‘treat’ then make it yourself from real ingredients. Not only can you then control exactly what you put into it (the amount of sugar, the type of oil etc), but you’ll be avoiding nasty additives too.
5. Shop at your local farmers market.
You will rarely come across highly processed food at a farmers market. What you will find though is fresh – probably picked that morning – in season fruits and vegetables. You are also likely to find organic or spray-free options and you’ll get to meet the person who grew your food.
6. Always read the ingredient list.
Don’t get sucked in by the marketing. Many highly processed foods come in beautiful packaging with images of fresh fruit or cows grazing on green pastures. This is their clever way to make you think their product is ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ and made from real food. Always read the ingredient list on the back of the packet. If it reads like a science experiment – avoid it! Real food is made from food!