How to cut processed food from your diet

If you read the previous post, you probably are wanting to eliminate or at least reduce them from your diet. How to do this in a sustainable way will vary from person to person. Different people have their own tendencies and motivations that will determine their approach to sustainable changes in their diet.

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast

No matter what your motivation, the answer is never to try to go fast. Drastic changes to your diet will result in you reverting to your old ways and most likely regressing and undoing any progress you had made.

It can be tempting to think that you want to make a complete change right now. If you want a big change fast, cut it all out cold turkey. The problem with this approach is when you remove all the processed food in your diet, it creates a vacuum in your diet that you need to fill and unless you have the knowledge and experience to fill the empty space with whole foods in a way that you won’t be hating yourself after your 10th salad this week, this isn’t the way to go about it.

If you want a lasting change, start slow and methodically. Start by adding non-processed foods not removing processed foods. This is the single best way that I’ve seen that people make real changes to their diet and their approach to food. Start with eating 1 more serving of veggies each week. Make them the way you like them, do you like broccoli with hummus or broccoli sauteed with garlic and salt? Make it so you enjoy it.

More veggies, fewer problems

Just because it’s a vegetable doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Some of my favorite things to eat are vegetables. Not because I’m some kind of crazy psychopath who doesn’t enjoy life, but because when you prepare them well, they really are good.

Eating a big salad every day is a technique that Jordan Syatt uses and has shown that it is very effective at getting more whole foods in your diet. Make it a killer salad with various greens, stewed mushrooms, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, walnuts, olives, seeds, etc. If you make yourself an epic salad every day, I guarantee you that you will not eat as much processed food.

One of the key changes in my approach to my own nutrition was to find reasons to eat things other than how tasty they are. Foods have so much value in our diets, from providing nutrition and energy to helping with mood and digestion. I used to have to eat a cookie whenever we had them on the counter but as I started to focus more on how it made me feel after I ate one, it was shocking how less appealing they became. They still taste good but I don’t love how I feel after eating them so instead of having an uncontrolled desire to eat them, I am very intentional when I choose to eat one to enjoy it as I eat it.

Cook more

Cooking is a great hobby and use of time. You can slow down, spend time on your own or with loved ones preparing good food. If you’re not sure what to eat, cook foods you like. Foods from your childhood that your mom used to make that you enjoyed. Cook foods from your heritage, chances are that you will respond best to that type of food because of your genetics.

A big, awesome salad every day

If your goal is to sustainably add unprocessed foods to your diet, adding a serving of vegetables every day is the best way to start.

Whether your daily serving is a salad, grilling some zucchini, or some bell peppers with some hummus, it doesn’t matter. Commit to eating one more serving of veggies per day than you already are and, again, I guarantee that you will end up eating less processed foods.

Easy win: Stop drinking high sugar drinks

Drinks like soda (pop, soda pop, coke, whatever you want to call it.), juices, energy drinks, even “healthy” drinks like vitamin water, or Gatorade. These drinks aren’t doing much at all for you. There are a couple of reasons why you want to avoid these drinks. First, they have calories that are filling at all. If you drink 8 oz. of water or 8 oz. of soda, you feel the same but the soda had calories while the water didn’t. This contributes to many people eating in a calorie surplus. Second, they have shown that drinking sugary drinks makes people want to eat more, one of the hallmark effects of processed foods.

Take the long view

Realize that this isn’t a couple of weeks long transformation that you are trying to accomplish, you’re trying to make lifelong changes. So it’s okay if you only see slow progress or even none at all. It will take years. And that’s good. If it takes you years to reach your goal it will mean that you have made permanent changes. That you are fundamentally a different person.

Be patient with yourself along the way.

Takeaways

  • Start slow. Make one change at a time and incorporate it into your life before you try to tackle something else.
  • The easiest win is to add something good, not take away something bad. 
  • Cooking more is fun and delicious and a great way to eat more whole foods.
  • High sugar drinks aren’t doing anything for you.

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