Processed food is tempting because of its convenience but there are a handful of products that you’re better off avoiding altogether. “Eating clean” and avoiding processed foods requires a bit of pre-planning but once you get the hang of it you’ll see that it’s both doable and delicious to eat whole, natural foods.
Here’s a list of processed foods to avoid, along with suggested alternatives:
1. Potato Chips
Chips have virtually no nutritional value and the sodium content is off-the-charts. Most people should have no more than 2,200 miligrams of sodium per day but potato chips have between 150 – 210 miligrams of sodium per ounce, which is equivalent to roughly 10 chips. A high intake of sodium increases blood pressure that can lead to stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.
Alternative: Dried plantain chips
2. Canned Tomatoes
BPA has been linked to the canning process in canned foods, primarily in tomatoes. If you buy any canned vegetables, make sure there is something stating it is BPA free.
Alternative: Go to your local farmers market. You’ll be supporting local farmers and avoiding potential BPA exposure.
3. Packaged Meats
You might be thinking it’s just hot dogs that ought to be avoided but it’s really all packaged meats – even your favorite sliced turkey. The quality of packaged meats tends to be lower and research shows that eating 5+ servings of processed meat per week leads to an increased chance of cancer. The reason? These meats are full of sugar, salt, starch, preservatives and other random ingredients.
Alternative: Stick to “whole cuts” of meat.
4. Microwave Popcorn
The lining of the microwave popcorn bag contains chemicals including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). They’re part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans which is why the EPA has asked companies to voluntarily stop using these chemicals in product packaging by 2015.
Alternative: Try going old school and cooking popcorn on the stove.
5. Table Salt
Don’t be fooled by that sweet little girl holding the yellow umbrella, commercial table salt is far from good for you body. There are a long list of chemicals in table salt, all of which are bad for you. Part of the problem is because commercial salt is refined by drying at temperatures so hot that all the beneficial substances are destroyed.
Alternative: Himalayan salt – it has 84 minerals that you body needs and you will not be able to taste the difference.
6. Artificial Sweeteners
Chemicals such as aspartame in sweeteners can increase your appetite and increase the amount of fat stored in your body. The list of negative side effects from artificial sweeteners like aspartame are long and include dizziness, headaches, memory loss, fatigue and abdominal cramping.
Alternative: Agave nectar, molassas or honey
Healthy Diets To Help You Avoid Processed Foods
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive food plan that’s focused on eating more whole and natural foods you can check out the following plans on Lift: