3 ways to dodge the pitfalls of processed foods

It can be difficult to limit processed foods in your diet, but it's not impossible. Here are three tips to help you get started.

3 ways to dodge the pitfalls of processed foods

1. Know what you're eating and consider homemade alternatives

Technological advances have dramatically enhanced the quality and increased the range of processed foods. Almost everyone consumes some convenience foods, defined as items that require little or no preparation, from ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, canned or frozen goods, to pre-packaged heat-and-serve meals.

  • Nutritionally, some of these products do not measure up to home-cooked meals, but this varies greatly among foods.
  • Instant soups contain a few dehydrated vegetables and many artificial flavourings, emulsifiers, fillers, and preservatives. Homemade or even canned soups are more nutritious and contain fewer additives.
  • Most convenience foods also tend to contain more sugar, salt, and fat than comparable dishes prepared at home.

2. Consume processed foods in moderation

Some critics blame this growing reliance on convenience foods, which are typically high in fat and calories, for the fact that almost one-half of all adult North Americans are overweight. Of these, almost one-quarter are obese.

  • The fact is convenience foods are here to stay; however, anyone who follows the basic rules of variety, moderation, and balance can work them into a healthful, nutritious diet.
  • Many food processors have been prompted by consumer demands to enhance the nutritional quality of their products by adding healthful ingredients (for example, calcium to orange juice) or by reducing fat, sugar, and salt.
  • Although some claims of low fat, no cholesterol, and "lite" may be misleading, an informed shopper who knows how to decipher food labeling can make healthful choices.

3. Try steering kids towards natural foods

Most parents rely upon at least some convenience items when introducing foods into a baby's diet. Instant cereals and jars of pureed fruits, vegetables, and meats are certainly easier than homemade baby foods.

  • More questionable are the convenience foods that many older children seem to prefer. Favourites like hot dogs and cold cuts are usually loaded with fat, salt, and preservatives; instant puddings may provide milk, but they are also high in sugar, fats, and artificial flavourings and colourings.
  • When feeding children, emphasize foods made with minimal processing; for example, chicken is a better pick than hot dogs, yogurt is more healthful than puddings, un-coated oat cereals or low-fat granola is a wiser choice than sweetened children's cereals.

The key thing to remember is moderation. Keep these tips in mind and reduce your intake of processed foods as part of a healthy diet.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu