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How to master processed food detox

Photo By: bodynutrition.org


Mary Mulvey, Contributing Writer

New year, new you. Right? Every year people around the world set their New Year’s resolutions and many of those are to start eating healthy and working out. A smart place to start if you are looking to change your diet is cut out those processed foods!

Processed foods are a food that is chemically or mechanically altered to change or preserve it. They typically come in a bag and have more than one ingredient included on the nutrition label. Processed foods are convenient and since we live in America, we basically run on processed food. So cutting them out completely is extremely hard and expensive to do.

Ultra-processed foods are where major health concerns come into play as they are high in added sugar, salt, oils and fat. 50% of the average person’s daily calories comes from ultra-processed foods. Packaged snacks should be thrown out imminently - being high in additives they are number one on the list of ‘what not to eat’ when you want to eliminate processed foods from your diet. It is also important to cut out sodas, candy, ice cream, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and pizza. Many believe that dried fruit can be a substitute for fruit but anything that is dried loses healthy nutrients and vitamins along with companies adding lots of sugar and preservatives into the fruit. Choose the banana next time instead of the banana crisps.

Processed meats are also a big issue in the American culture. Numerous studies have found that processed meats are directly linked to diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Any meat that has been cured, salted, smoked, canned or dried is considered processed.

To start a detox from processed foods you should focus on “real” foods. Renew and replenish your system with vegetables, fruit, protein, and good fat foods such as avocados, cheese and nuts. Steering completely away from processed foods is not an easy thing to do so you should focus on making the most of your diet with plant-based foods. Go for a salad at Bruno’s instead of the subs that contain processed meats. Pick water rather than soda and go home and make yourself a healthy dinner instead of hitting the McDonalds drive through.

If you are dedicated enough, you can make it easy to do and eating as healthy as you can will become a lifestyle habit instead of a phase as long as you do it in moderation. To cut processed foods out of your diet, you should do this gradually. Going cold turkey on anything is extremely hard, so if you gradually lean off of it you will slowly crave it less, resulting in not breaking your resolution. Setting small goals is the fastest way to success. There will be less setbacks and downfalls if you take this direction. Reading nutrition labels is extremely important and you should take the time to look at labels before you put food in your shopping cart. It may sound tedious but if you are looking for a healthier lifestyle, it is a must. Next time you consider grabbing the bag of chips think about how much better you will feel after eating some “real” food instead.