When it comes to nutrition, I like to keep it simple. I usually recommend eating as much real food as possible. Avoiding processed and refined foods are really the key to nutritional success.
I realize now that those two words, especially processed, are difficult to define. They are right up there with the term clean eating, which I am definitely guilty of using.
Since I am a big believer in reducing the amount of processed foods that someone should eat in order to lose weight and maximize training, I felt it necessary to create some guidelines for what a processed food really is.
The definition is not as simple as any food that has gone through some kind of practice that changes it from its original state. This would rule out an awful lot of foods that I find important to eat. Peanut butter, oatmeal, and honey are all examples of the many foods that have been “processed” into a usable state for consumers.
Not all of us are harvesting honey combs or grinding our own peanuts in the food processor (there’s that word again). There needs to be some kind of line drawn or else no one would be eating.
A food is not always bad for you because it comes in a package or is not 100% in its natural state.
The trouble begins with additives, enrichments, and chemistry experiments.
I am going to attempt to scratch the surface of avoiding processed foods by giving some criteria that I use when choosing foods.
1. Shoot for less than five ingredients on the food label. If there is not food label (meat, produce, etc.) you’re probably in good shape.
2. All of the ingredients on the label should be pronounceable and recognizable. It is always best to avoid something like dimethylalanine (which may or may not even exist). I am not sure what it is going to do to the other foods in the product, or your body. Do you think your high school chemistry teacher would let you eat the stuff you made in the lab?
3. Avoid anything non dairy that says “enriched”, “bleached”, “genetically modified”, or “hydrogenated”. There is nothing good that can really come from these terms. These terms basically mean that a food was changed in some way and then repurposed into another form. Very often, this strips the original food of a lot of the nutrients it had.
I am not going to pretend that adhering to these guidelines is easy, because it is not. But what you can do is start to minimize the foods that do not follow these guidelines.
You will feel better, sleep better, move better, and get a lot of benefits from the changes.
Society has a ton of health problems from our kids all the way to adults. Yet, the majority of our grocery stores consist of these processed foods. Reducing them can go a long way with weight loss and other common general health issues.
Nuts come in shells, syrup derives from a tree, and flour was a plant at one point but never did Cheez Itz grow on a tree. Minimize the foods that have been seriously changed from their raw counterpart and start reaping the benefits of a healthier you.