Healthy Holistic Living

7 Ways To Avoid Processed Foods


It is a sad reality: America is overfed and undernourished.  We are eating more processed foods than ever before and it is making us sick, really sick.  Foods that have been processed are nutritionally depleted. They are loaded with extra calories, chemicals and dangerous additives. Most processed foods also contain unnecessary added sugars, salt, fats and for the most part, now processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients. These 7 Ways To Avoid Processed Foods can  help you make better choices and stay healthy.

Processed foods today make up 70% of the U.S. diet. Walk in a grocery store and pay attention to what you see: processed foods everywhere! Did you know that about 80% of those products didn’t even exist 100 years ago? With the introduction of new chemicals and genetically modified crops, the way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000.


Did you also know that according to the World’s Health Organization, about 80% of all chronic diseases are related to a poor diet and lack of physical activity? Poor nutrition in combination with no exercise can lead to all sorts of health problems. If we don’t make a change and start improving our eating habits and lifestyle, we are going to see catastrophic results.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that 1 in 3 children born after the year 2000 will become diabetic. Overweight and obesity rates have doubled among children and quadrupled among adolescents in the past 30 years! Poor child nutrition could lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, joint problems, sleep apnea, early puberty, and several cancers. We could be witnessing the first generation of parents who will outlive their children.  Pretty scary don’t you think? How do you get kids to eat healthy? It starts at home! Check out my  5 Tips For Raising Healthy Non-Picky Eaters.

The choices you make now will affect your future health.  If you truly want to change and improve your eating habits you need to start by making little changes.  One change at a time, and before you know it, you and your family will be eating better and healthier.  If you are interested, please take a look at 5 Ingredient Swaps For Healthier Eating . You cannot expect to completely change your eating habits overnight, it is a long process. One improvement at a time, making better choices, getting used to healthy options and saying goodbye to unhealthy eating habits. Processed foods are cheap and convenient, but it is definitely not the way we should eat.

 7 Ways To Avoid Processed Foods

1.-Cook At Home.- The most important way to avoid eating processed foods in my opinion.  Cook your own food and try to stay away from cans and boxes as much as you can.  Making food from scratch is not that complicated.  Before I started making healthier choices, I used to always make mashed potatoes from a box. I thought it was convenient, but then I realized it is not so complicated to boil potatoes and mash them with some butter and salt.  I avoid all the chemicals and preservatives and actually eat real food.  If you use fresh ingredients, you will notice a huge difference as well.  Your meals will be healthier and tastier.  You will know exactly what is in your food if you prepare it yourself using good quality ingredients. I have several easy to make homemade recipes that are ready in less than 30 minutes.


2.- Read Labels.- It is so important to learn how to read labels and be well informed.  You can definitely tell whether a product is healthy if you just look at the ingredients’ list.  In general, the more ingredients, the more processed the product actually is.  Do you see ingredients you can’t pronounce or sugars in the top three ingredients? Then you will know it is not a healthy option. Run if you see high fructose corn syrup! Remember that the ingredient list on a food label is the listing of each ingredient in descending order of predominance. The ingredients used in the greatest amounts first, followed by descending order by those in smaller amounts. I recently shared an article about 5 Processed Kids Snacks You Should Avoid, where I explain reading labels in more detail. Check it out!

3.- Eat more fruits and vegetables.- Think “raw”.  Eating raw fruits and vegetables is best because all the nutrients are intact. If you are not used to it, next time you go grocery shopping, try to buy more fruits and vegetables and incorporate them in your daily diet.  Have some berries or an apple as a snack.  What about some baby carrots with hummus? There are so many varieties and seasonal produce to choose from! Why not trying a vegetable you have never eaten before or that exotic fruit you didn’t know existed? Instead of going to the middle isles looking for boxes of processed foods for snacks like snack bars or cookies, choose real fresh fruits and veggies and make healthier choices. Try making Cauliflower Popcorn, I highly recommend this recipe! Making smoothies or juicing is also a great way to eat more fruits and vegetables. Check out my Green Smoothie Recipe for more ideas.

4.- Buy local.- Whether it is your local bakery or famer’s market, those are places where you can find less processed foods.  Lots of seasonal local fresh fruits and vegetables that have never been frozen, and small family businesses that make homemade foods. About a year ago I discovered a great pasta place near my home. They make it fresh every day and it is a family business. I can actually see how they make the pasta while I am at the store.  Not only is that pasta delicious but so fresh and  made using a few ingredients.  If you go to your local farmer’s market also you will find not only great produce but small businesses that sell local raw honey, local breads and other delicious treats. Remember fresh and local is always better.


5.- Make you own junk food.- We all want to eat some junk food right?  Why not make it yourself and turn it into something healthy?  I love making my own junk food like a good Homemade Mac & Cheese or Chicken Nuggets.  The results are even better in terms of taste and the best part is you don’t have to feel guilty.  Not to mention the amount of chemicals you would not be putting in your body by making your own junk food. Cooking at home is really the best way to avoid processed foods. Try making your own favorite junk food and feel better about making healthier choices!

6.- Choose whole grains.- Whole grain products are less refined and more natural. Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. Your body will digest them easily and they will contain more nutrients so it will be healthier for you. Once again, please read your labels.  If it doesn’t say 100% whole grains then it is really not a true whole grain product.  The first ingredient should be a whole grain also.  Stay away from white bread, pasta and rice and starting switching little by little to whole grains.  Before you know it, you will never want to go back.  I also love trying different varieties of whole grains, like for example  my Spaghetti Carbonara With Quinoa Pasta recipe.

7.-Avoid low-fat and fat free products.- When a product is labeled “low-fat” or “fat free”, it only means it has been highly processed to remove the fat first.  After the fat is removed, the product doesn’t taste good anymore so guess what they add? Sugar! Tons of sugar (usually cheap processed sugar like high fructose corn syrup), to make up for the fat they just removed. Sugar producers can actually label their sugar with a huge “Fat Free” label because sugar is fat free. But what they don’t tell you is that if sugar calories are not used as energy shortly after they are consumed, they are converted into stored body fat. This is why people who go on a diet and start buying these products don’t loose any weight. If you feel like eating something sweet, making your own is also a great way to avoid all the artificial ingredients.  Try my Homemade Mini Brownies, or the Perfect Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes. They are easy to make and so delicious.

Article originally published on republished with permission

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Ursula Herrera

Ursula Herrera

Hi, my name is Ursula.I am not a nutritionist but a concerned mother, who has done extensive research, and developed creative ways to provide healthy and enjoyable fun food options. Please visit my page: Creative and Healthy Fun

Most of my recipes are very easy to prepare.I believe in cooking with fresh ingredients and try to avoid cans and boxes as much as possible.Not all the recipes, smoothies, fun food ideas and/or snacks are my own creations but ones I’ve found and share.

The purpose of my blog is to give fun ideas for healthy meals the entire family can enjoy.I believe that kids should eat the same food as adults. Creating these early food habits will teach kids to not only eat better and more variety of food, but also to share and enjoy time with the entire family.
Ursula Herrera