What really is processed food and why avoid it

You most certainly have heard the term processed food and how bad it is for you, but do you really know which foods are processed and which aren’t? Many people think that anything in a box is processed, but the truth is that processed food is any food which is not in its original form due to technical processing.

Some processed foods can be healthy such as pre-chopped veggies for salad, roasted nuts or canned tuna. Others such as dairy products are pasteurized in order to be safe for consumption – which is OK. But the processed foods which everybody is talking about are the foods which have added chemicals to them. They most commonly have added sodium preservatives and artificial sweeteners.

Typically, this type of processed food is low in fiber as well as whole grains and at the same time with high saturated and Trans fat content.

Sure, eating such food will not kill you so there is nothing wrong in consuming a favorite type of food which has been processed, but when consumed in excess these types of food can actually pose a threat to your health and wellbeing.

If you are not quite sure which products in your local store are processed and which aren’t here are a few simple pointers which will help you identify the healthy from the unhealthy foods there:

  1. Read the labels. Look for chemicals and other ingredients which are hard to read or pronounce. Also look at the fat, sodium and sugar in each service which should be included in the nutrition labels.
  2. Skip the frozen foods. Of course, frozen fruits or veggies are fine to eat, but when it comes to frozen pizzas or dinners it is very likely that they have a lot of added sodium and fat in them.
  3. Pick natural snacks. Due to the fact that nearly all snack foods are processed, you should probably limit their consumption and try to replace them with some healthy snack instead. You can get some fruit, raw nuts, veggies or salsa to snack on instead. Check the labels of your nuts and other seemingly healthy snacks just in case too!

Finding a healthy balance and eating more natural foods which your body processes better will help you lead a much healthier lifestyle. You can allow yourself to indulge in a processed snack now and then but in general – non-processed food is what your body needs in order to function properly.

Here is how to stick to your diet and enjoy a meal with friends

Is your social or romantic life suffering because you are on a strict diet? There is no need to stay locked in your home until you lose those extra pounds! You can enjoy spending time out with your partner, family or friends once in a while and still stick to your diet plan and weight loss and fitness goals.
Here are some tips on eating out and still sticking to your healthy diet
1. Plan ahead
Go ahead and look at the restaurant’s website to plan your healthy meal before actually going. There are restaurants which will allow you to build a custom menu too! So, pick what you will be ordering, calculate those calories, and just stick to your plan when you go to the restaurant.
2. Check the calories
Many restaurants already have the calories of each dish included in their menus. If this is not the case, there are easy ways to calculate the calories in a meal via the various mobile apps available which feature calorie counting calculators and other food and health-related information.
3. Do some smart swapping
Why not limit the calories you will consume when you go out by making slight re-arrangements to what you would normally order? Choose salad Fresca instead of cheese, or grilled chicken instead of deep-fried chicken? They can be delicious and you can rest assured that you haven’t compromised your diet!

4. Drink water or sparkling water
Forget about the sodas and sugary drinks. Order a glass of sparkling water with a lemon slice instead.
5. Avoid unhealthy salad dressing
Make sure you order your salad with the dressing on the side, so you can avoid it altogether or at least limit the quantity you consume with your veggies.
6. Look for sautéed or grilled veggies or meat
These options are not only yummy but are also healthier and with fewer calories than the fried ones.
7. Go for light crusted pizza with light cheese
Forget about the pepperoni and tons of cheese on your pizza. Instead, choose a diet friendlier option with less dough and fewer fats.
8. Don’t be shy to share with your friends
Don’t be embarrassed to tell your friends about your decision to lead a healthier life and eat healthier food. This will not only make you feel more comfortable when picking what to order and when actually eating it, but will also bring you the support and understanding of your friends as well.
So, go ahead and plan that next romantic dinner or a fun time out with your friends with a clear conscience now!