Every article you read about eating a healthy diet says to cut out all processed foods, but just what is processed food and are they all bad for you? First, let’s look at what the real definition of a processed food is and what most articles and diet experts are actually discussing. Any time you change a fruit or vegetable and it’s not exactly as it was on the plant, you’re processing it. Washing food, for example, is a type of processing. That’s definitely not what dietitians and health experts are discussing.
It’s all about what’s in the food and what’s not in it.
Frozen vegetables that contain nothing more than the vegetables are processed foods. They’re taken from the fields directly to the plant where they’re washed, sometimes blanched and fast frozen. The plants are often built close to the fields, so the fruits or vegetables have adequate time to ripen to their best in the field. In many ways, frozen fruits and vegetables, at least those with no other ingredients, are actually healthier than the ones you buy fresh in the store. The produce in the store is picked before ripeness and ripens in travel. Every day that the produce sits uneaten, it loses nutrients, unlike its frozen cousin.
Canned food may or may not be just as healthy an option.
It’s all about the ingredients that you find listed on the can. If there’s nothing but fruits, vegetables and water, you have a healthier option. Sometimes, even if there is extra salt, such as on beans, you can rinse the beans in water to remove the excess sodium. Buying canned fruits and vegetables, such as green beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, spinach and fruits packed in their own juice without added sugar, can save you money and provide good nutrition.
You don’t have to cut out a family favorite, peanut butter, to eat healthy.
There are all types of peanut butter, including ones that have jelly mixed in them. Some are healthy options, while others aren’t. Check the label. If there’s just one ingredient, peanuts, it’s a healthy option. If you’re not on a sodium restricted diet, peanut butter with the ingredients peanuts and salt also makes a healthy option. Processed peanut butter, like all highly processed food, has a whole list of ingredients, some of which sound like a lab experiment. Always opt for food with no added sugar, fewer and more natural ingredients.
- Your favorite snack food probably is highly processed food, unless your favorite snack is fresh fruits or vegetables. Snack food often has additives to make you want to eat more and tend to be almost addictive.
- Sometimes, a little processing can save you money and time, while still being healthy. Canned salmon, tuna or other types of fish packed in water are healthy options that can cut the cost of protein for a meal.
- If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t fall for foods labeled low-fat or no fat. You need healthy fat to maintain bodily functions and when fat is removed, it’s replaced with sugar and unhealthy ingredients to make the consistency and taste more appealing.
- It’s not just the food you eat, but also what you drink that makes a difference. Sugary soft drinks have 100 calories, compared to water, plain tea or coffee. If you don’t like water, make it infused water. There are some delicious recipes available.
For more information, contact us today at Wellness On A Dime Coaching