Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body. As women striving to be in good health, we should take that opportunity to consume REAL food with less ingredients. With clean, whole-food ingredients, there's no fitness goal too far or too big. The main reason why we shoot for less ingredients is because more ingredients means highly processed. Does this mean that a veggie stew or soup should have fewer vegetables? No. But it does mean that once a food label starts to mention preservatives, food dyes and other harmful additives (usually words that are harder to pronounce) then we should stay away.
Ideally, we'd get all our foods fresh from local farms and make everything from scratch. However, most the time we don't live close enough to our food sources so we tend to have to buy foods that have higher shelf-lives. Processed foods are just more convenient in our busy lives, right? Actually, not all processed foods are harmful. Pre-chopped vegetables, beans canned in water, or fruits canned in their own juice are three examples. Sometimes, however, convenience can mean large amounts of sodium, fats, sugars and other ingredients that are harmful to our bodies. Here are a few ways we can reduce the amount of highly processed foods in our diets.
- Granola bars - Granola bars aka breakfast bars or cereal bars are often loaded with sugar. We should stay away from brands with high amount of simple carbohydrates and ingredient lists filled with difficult-to-pronounce words. Some brands like KIND bars have less sugar, but you may be better off making your own granola bar. You can find several different recipes online and you can control the amount of sugar you add. Check out this low-carb granola bar from the blog Sweetashoney. Each bar only contains 1.4 g of sugar.
- Popcorn - Microwave popcorn can be full of added salts, fats and a microwave bag laden in chemicals. A healthier alternative is to buy corn kernels and pop them yourself. Either with a popcorn machine or on the stove. Simply put the popcorn kernels in a pan, cover the top with tinfoil, and turn on the heat. The kernels will begin to pop.
- Ketchup - Your typical store-bought ketchup can be so full of preservatives and sugar that you might as well sprinkle sugar onto your food. You can make your own ketchup by using a cup of tomato paste with a teaspoon of vinegar. You can then flavor it to taste with a little sugar or salt.
Preserved foods have been around for years and sometimes gives us the opportunity to consume non-locally sourced food that would've otherwise spoiled in transit. Moderation is key! Consuming most of your calories from fresh lean protein, fruits and vegetables is important in nourishing your body. Check nutrition labels on all your food products and opt for fresh and simple ingredient lists more often than not.
Deanna M. Robinson, CPT
International Health & Fitness Expert
Holistic Nutrition Practitioner
Owner of FAB BODY FACTORY