Read Your Labels - Read the ingredients before buying anything. The best indicator of how highly processed a food is the list of ingredients. If what you are buying contains refined sugar or flour, more than five ingredients, or a lot of unfamiliar, unpronounceable items, you may want to reconsider purchasing it.
Eat More Whole Foods – This will help displace some of the processed food in your diet, and will actually make picking healthy foods to eat very simple.
Buy Bread Locally or Make It Yourself – If you look at the label on most breads in your grocery store you will find any where from 20 to 40 different items on the list, including lots of sugar. Why were there so many ingredients on the list if it only takes flour, water, salt and yeast to make bread? A bread machine is a great investment. Making bread couldn’t be easier! You just put the ingredients in the machine, push a button and it does the rest. Another option is to find a local bakery in your area for a great selection.
Eat More Whole Grains – In addition to picking healthier bread, go for the whole-grain option when selecting pastas, cereals, rice, and crackers. And don’t just believe the health claims on the outside of the box: Read the ingredients to make sure the product is truly made with only 100 percent whole grains—not a combination of whole grains and refined grains, which is unfortunately how a lot of “whole grain” products are made. White flour and other refined grains are simply high in calories and low in nutrition.
Watch Out for High-Fructose Corn Syrup – Avoid store-bought products containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), also known as corn sugar. While every cell in your body can metabolize glucose, the liver must metabolize fructose, so important appetite controls are bypassed. Unlike glucose, the fructose in HFCS is quickly absorbed into your cells without the help of insulin, and without the subsequent increase in leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite by signaling to your brain that you are full. In addition, the insulin produced during glucose metabolism suppresses a hormone called ghrelin produced by the stomach to regulate food uptake; this action is missing with fructose metabolism, so you stay hungry and keep eating.
Watch Out for Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – A widespread and silent killer that’s worse for your health than alcohol, nicotine and many drugs. MSG a flavor enhancer that’s known widely as an addition to Chinese food, but that’s actually added to thousands of the foods you and your family regularly eat, especially if you are like most Americans and eat the majority of your food as processed foods or in restaurants. MSG is one of the worst food additives on the market and is used in canned soups, crackers, meats, salad dressings, frozen dinners and much more. It’s found in your local supermarket and restaurants, in your child’s school cafeteria and, amazingly, even in baby food and infant formula. MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees — and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and more. Many other adverse effects have also been linked to regular consumption of MSG, including, Obesity, Eye damage, Headaches, Fatigue and disorientation, and Depression. According to the FDA, MSG Symptom Complex can involve symptoms such as, Numbness, Burning sensation, Tingling, Facial pressure or tightness, Chest pain or difficulty breathing, Headache, Nausea, Rapid heartbeat, Drowsiness, and Weakness.
Eat At Home More Often – The best way to know what’s in your food is to cook it yourself. When you eat out at a restaurant you don’t know all the ingredients. You don’t know if the bread they are serving has 20 or more ingredients or if it contains HFCS (like Subway) or MSG (like CHick-fil-A), unless you do research a head of time. Make eating out a special occasion and pick local restaurants over big chains.
Ditch the Kids’ Menu – The next time your family is out to dinner, avoid dishes specifically geared toward the younger generation. More often than not, those dishes rely on ingredients like pre-made chicken nuggets, fries, and pasta made with white flour, among other less-than-healthy things.
Visit the Farmers Market – The next time you need to restock your fridge visit your local farmers market. Not only will you find food that is in season, which is usually when it is most nutritious, but you will also find a selection of pesticide-free produce and properly fed and raised meat. There’s also an environmental advantage to purchase locally grown products as opposed to supermarket produce, which travels on average 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate. Go to, http://farmersmarket.com/ or http://www.localharvest.org/, to find a farmer’s market near you.
Make Your Own Junk Food - If you had to peel, chop and deep fry potatoes every time you wanted French fries, you would probably eat them far less often. If you only eat “junk foods” like homemade cakes, sweets, and fried foods as often as you are willing to make them yourself, it’s unlikely they will become a dominant part of your diet. Plus when you make your own junk food you can adjust the amount of sugar or butter and add ingredients like whole wheat flour or ground flax seed to make it healthier.
Eat Less Meat and Buy Organic or Local Meats - You wouldn’t necessarily think that something as basic as meat is processed, but most meat at the grocery store comes from factory farms, where animals are pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones, which when consumed passes along to you. Meat also has a lot of chemical preservatives added to it. Cold cuts and hot dogs are among the worst. When buying meat look for local or organic, grass fed, free ranging/roaming, nitrate and nitrite free options.
Give Up Soda – Soda is high in sugar and calories, combined with practically nonexistent nutritional value. Some popular soda brands, including Mountain Dew, use a toxic flame retardant chemical ingredient to keep the artificial flavoring from separating from the rest of the liquid. Brominated vegetable oil, also sometimes listed as BVO on soda and sports drink, can cause bromide poisoning symptoms like skin lesions and memory loss, as well as nerve disorders. Other unfortunate health effects of drinking soda are weakening of bones, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.