Most of us know by now that we’re better off without processed foods, and yet many of us continue to eat them. It’s understandable—they’re quick and easy. They don’t require any cooking (other than maybe putting into the oven). And when our taste buds get used to that processed flavor, they want more.
All of that flavor has us hooked on excess salts and sugars, genetically modified foods, hydrogenated oils, chemicals and artificial additives, which is why, when switching from a diet high in processed foods to whole foods can be so difficult—it’s like letting go of an addiction because really, it is—these foods are made to be addictive! And in contrast, whole foods taste bland.
The information shared here is intentionally simplified, and still, the list below is a lot, so take it one step at a time! If it helps, you can concentrate on adding or increasing healthy foods, like eating more vegetables, or more fresh food, or eating foods of many different (natural) colors, more than focus on cutting anything out because every healthy step helps to reprogram the brain and thus the taste buds.
This means that it naturally gets easier with time because the more the brain changes and the healthier the body becomes, the less you will even want to eat processed foods.
1. Increase intake of food that doesn’t have an ingredient list, like fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. The more you stick to these foods, the less you need to read ingredients and be able to identify what’s essential to avoid.
2. Read the ingredients and consume products that contain actual food and only food ingredients as much as possible. If you have no idea what an ingredient is, don’t eat it. (You could look up unknown ingredients on the web, however, to be amazed at what this stuff really is and what it does to us…and the environment!)
3. Don’t trust the label! The food industry is the most dishonest in its marketing. If it claims that it’s a “health” product, or it will help you lose weight, or it’s “natural,” or that it’s “chicken soup” or “BBQ Sauce” or “soy sauce” or “ketchup”, etc. etc. don’t believe it. Read the ingredients to know what it really is.
4. Be able to identify all forms of sugars, including corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, dextrose, galactose, lactose, maltose, sucrose, fructose. Processed foods are often laced with sugars that spike the blood sugar level, are addictive, and are just as toxic to the liver as excessive alcohol. Many of these forms of sugar/glucose are more harmful than table sugar because their glycemic index is much higher. They’re also isolated from genetically modified corn.
5. Drink clean water (can infuse to taste as pictured above) and herbal teas primarily, to ease off of other common, harmful drinks. Sodas and processed fruit juices, just like sugars, are addictive, spike the blood sugar level, and are toxic to the liver. Most dairy milk is pasteurized, which has been found to increase digestive and respiratory phlegm along with neurological, heart, immune, and auto-immune disease risks! Many non-dairy milks contain added sugars, genetically modified soy, hydrogenated oils, and other harmful additives, so read the ingredients to be sure!
6. Stick to unrefined oils as much as possible, such as Olive, Grape Seed, Coconut, Sesame, etc. Processed oils and margarine contain trans fats, which disrupt cholesterol levels and can result in disease, such as diabetes and heart disease.
7. Buy whole-grain bread from a bakery rather than from the bread shelf to help reduce eating bleached flour and a higher glycemic index, that can spike the blood sugar level, along with a long list of toxic chemicals and artificial additives.
8. Cook with potatoes and other root vegetables rather than pre-made potato varieties that tend to have EXTRA starches like dextrose, which increase the glucose level of the already high glycemic index, which, just like sugars, are addictive and spike the blood sugar level.
10. Have a “veggie burger” made of beans, vegetables, seeds and/or nuts instead of having a veggie burger made of soy, which is genetically modified unless it’s specifically noted otherwise. Many processed “veggie burgers” are loaded with other nasty additives. Read the ingredients!
Keeping it simple is the easiest way to go, and knowing the ingredients of our “food” is the bottom line!
Changing our diet from processed food takes commitment and perseverance, and just like any of the self-care practices on Jyllin.com, gets easier with time. It doesn’t happen overnight. We’re learning how to love and care for ourselves here. Let that be our guide.
Share your experiences with processed foods below. Did you stop eating them, and if so, how’d you do it? Or do you struggle with them now and need some extra support in finding ways beyond them? Let’s share and support!
Jyllin, certified as a holistic healthcare practitioner in 2004, a bodyworker, and teacher of therapeutic yoga and creative movement, is committed to sharing environmentally and socially conscientious lifestyle tools that support liberation from addictive patterns of chronic stress. Learn more about Jyllin and The Holistic Liberation Program.