How to Cut Out Processed Foods

At Synergy we are huge proponents of an integrated approach to exercise. Each of our small group training classes is a mix of cardio and strength training moves that have been proven to help people change their body composition and replace fat with healthy, lean muscle. But we also know that there’s more to getting fit and healthy than just working out. That’s why we also help many members get better results by changing the way they eat.
The thing we see so often with members in our nutritional counseling sessions is that many of them are consuming an over abundance of processed foods. These are foods that come in a bag, box or a can. The reason these foods are troublesome is they are usually loaded with additives, sodium and sugar to enhance their flavor, artificial preservatives to lengthen their shelf life and unhealthy fats. Research has proven time and again that these ingredients are linked to serious health issues like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even certain types of cancer. So, while popping a frozen dinner in the microwave may be convenient, you’re really doing yourself a disservice even when you eat those that are marketed as “healthy.”

It’s not hard to cut processed foods out of your diet. And most of the time when our clients do, they see an immediate and positive effect on their results. If you want to switch to a more natural, whole foods diet, here are some pointers.

Change the way you shop – Stay away from the middle aisles of your supermarket. If you’re following a whole foods diet, you should be able to get the majority of items you need from the outer sections – fruits, vegetables, dairy and meats. Fill 90% of your cart with items from these sections and shop the middle aisles only for pantry staples and condiments.

Get away from sweet drinks – It goes without saying that soda is bad for you. But what many people don’t grasp is that even diet soda or zero calorie soft drinks are a hazard. Sugar free drinks are sweetened with aspartame and other artificial sweeteners that trigger your brain to crave more sweet foods. Sports drinks are tricky because many contain even more sugar than a soda and are marketed as helpful in giving you energy for your workout or replenishing electrolytes. The truth is, nothing is going to hydrate you better than water will. If you want to spice up the flavor, add some lemon, lime or a little fresh squeezed fruit juice.

Opt for whole grains – There are plenty of delicious and nutritious whole grain alternatives to the white carbs and empty calories that many people load up on. Choose to eat brown rice instead of white and try whole grain and sprouted grain breads. They are far less processed than their white counterparts and contain many more nutrients and fiber that will fill you up and contribute positively to your health.

Cut out processed meat – Sure, processed meats like deli cuts, bacon and sausage are delicious but the exorbitant amounts of sodium, nitrates and nitrites in them make them an unhealthy food choice. Instead eat lean cuts of beef (grass fed if you can get it), white meat and fish. They are all excellent sources of protein which is essential for a healthy, lean body.

Plan ahead – The number one excuse we hear from people is that they don’t have time to eat healthy. So, they reach for fast food, packaged snacks and meals on the go. And while we agree, eating healthy does take more effort, it is not hard if you take the time to plan ahead. Be sure to always have plenty of the healthy fruits and vegetables you like on hand to incorporate into meals and cut up for snacks. You can roast up trays of veggies to accompany several meals and just switch up your protein. Carrots, celery, peppers, apples, bananas, grapes and tons of other fresh foods are very portable and make for great fillers in between meals.

 

Need more specific advice to change the way YOU eat? Come in for your own personal nutrition plan.
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