Which of the following would you consider to be “processed foods?” Bagged spinach, roasted nuts, salad dressing, frozen pizza. Any guesses? The correct answer is all of them!
Processed foods have a bad reputation as a diet disrupter. However, they can be more than just potato chips, donuts and microwaveable dinners. Processed foods include any food that has been purposefully changed in some way prior to consumption — this would include anything that has been precooked, canned, frozen and even nutritionally fortified. There is a spectrum from minimally processed foods, such as cut vegetables and frozen fruit, to more heavily processed foods, such as crackers and deli meat.
It can be easy to allow processed foods into our diet. Many of us lead busy, on-the-go lifestyles and heavily processed foods are often the quick and easy convenience foods that we grab while on the run.
Here are some tips to help clean up your intake — starting with your pantry!
- Clean out your pantry. Out of sight, out of mind!
- Start meal planning. Get the whole family involved.
- Have a plan for grocery shopping. Make a list and stick to it!
- Prepare meals ahead of time. Wash and chop vegetables so they are ready to go.
- Have healthy snacks on hand just in case. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and eggs are great options!
Briana Traut, Registered Dietitian
CentraCare Weight Management