Eliminating Refined Processed Foods from Your Diet

It may be daunting to kick a habit that you’ve gotten so used to — especially if you don’t even realize that you have it — but kicking refined processed foods (such as junk food) out of your diet is a worthy cause to take up. They make up a significant amount of your caloric intake without giving you the nutrition you deserve, so they definitely need to go.

Once upon a time, your grandparents and great-grandparents didn’t have the option to eat processed food. All they had was fresh, minimally processed foods. Nowadays, fresh food can be hard to come by, especially because of the convenience of processed foods and the lack of knowledge about how they negatively impact your health.

To keep food in packages, manufacturers often need to add “food-like substances” to make them last longer or taste better. These enhancers make processed foods even worse for you, so what you’re left with is a processed food containing food stabilizers, preservatives, added sugar, and salt. Who wants that?

Consciously, of course, it sounds horrible, but the trouble is that you may already be addicted (like so many are). As a plant-based eater, you want to source only the best possible foods that enhance your health — and that means staying away from refined processed foods.

Try these pointers to start kicking your refined-food habit:

  • Shop with a plan, not with an empty stomach. When you’re hungry, you lose your judgment and basically want to put anything you see in your mouth! So plan ahead — not only in terms of having a shopping list but also making sure you have some food in your belly.

  • Stock up on fiber. Fiber-rich whole foods fill you up and are the nutritional opposite of refined foods, which have been stripped of their fiber.

  • Swap out sugared drinks for homemade brews. This is a sure-fire way to drop calories within moments. Just a few sips of a processed fruit juice or soda can add a significant amount of non-nutritive calories before you’ve even eaten a meal. Make ginger or peppermint tea, or throw some fresh berries in a bottle of water.

  • Avoid fast foods like the plague. Fast food is quite possibly the worst thing you can eat, because most menus are loaded with fat and calories. Set yourself up for success by always having enough food on hand to make quick meals. Plan ahead by making a little extra for dinner so you can have leftovers the next day.

  • Try some good things that come in packages. Some whole foods, such as grains, nuts, and seeds, require packaging to keep them on a shelf. This is okay; just be sure you check the dates on the packages.

    These common plant-based snacks are wrapped up and ready to go:

    • Brown-rice cakes

    • Coconut yogurt

    • Dairy-free dark-chocolate bars

    • Unsulphured dried fruit and nut bars

    • Granola and other whole-grain cereals

    • Kale chips

    • Organic corn chips

    • Plant-based protein powder

    • Trail mixes

    • Whole-grain or gluten-free crackers

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