(NaturalNews) They're convenient, they're enticingly packaged, and for some people they're so addictively tempting that indulgence is a constant, uncontrollable urge. But processed foods are a collective Trojan horse of bad health just waiting to rear its nasty head when you least expect it, sometimes immediately and sometimes later on down the road, which means they're definitely something you want to cut out of your diet for good.
Wanting to cut the junk food habit and actually doing it; however, are two completely different animals. Many people, it turns out, find themselves constantly straddling the line between the desires of their heart and the desires of their flesh when it comes to consuming processed foods. But the good news is that if you are one of the millions of people trying to rid your diet of processed foods, you are not alone, and you can succeed.
Here are four tips to help you cut processed foods from your diet for good:
1) Quitting cold turkey isn't always the best option. Though it might work well for some people with near-superhuman levels of ambition and commitment, attempting to eliminate all processed foods from your diet at once may be a recipe for failure. Since transitioning to a whole food-based diet typically involves making what might seem like drastic dietary and lifestyle changes, it is probably best to take things one step at a time.
In their book Real Food Has Curves: How to Get Off Processed Food, Lose Weight, and Love What You Eat, authors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough first suggest making a mental inventory of the foods you already eat to determine which ones are "real" (freshly-squeezed orange juice), which ones are "almost real" (orange juice not made from concentrate), which ones are "barely real" (orange juice made from concentrate), and which ones are "not real" (orange-flavored juice beverages and soda).
From here, they advise people to "take one step to the left" with every purchasing decision and food choice, with the "left" representing a move towards the "real" end of the spectrum. Over time, as you begin to learn which ingredients to look out for and which foods to avoid based on how they are processed, these incremental changes will become new lifestyle habits that actually stick.
2) Think about how various food ingredients might be affecting your body. If you are a regular Natural News reader, then you are likely already aware of some of the major processed food ingredients and additives that are harmful to health. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), refined sugar, wheat flour, natural and artificial flavorings, vegetables oils, and processed salt are just a few of the many toxins commonly added to processed foods that you will want to avoid.
And a helpful motivator for accomplishing this is to think about how these ingredients might affect both your immediate and long-term health. MSG, for instance, is a known neurotoxin that can lead to severe headaches, Alzheimer's disease, learning disabilities, and other forms of brain damage. Sure, it might add a lot of extra flavor to those chips or crackers, but is it worth risking your health? The same goes for refined sugar and all the others -- these silent killers are not worth the immediate gratification they might provide to your senses.
3) Opt for freshly-prepared meals when convenience is of the essence. Let's face it. Not everyone has time to prepare at least three fresh meals every single day for themselves and their families. But instead of choosing pre-packaged frozen dinners or heading to the local drive-thru for fast food, why not instead opt for freshly-prepared meals and meal ingredients, which are widely available at local health food stores and even some conventional grocery stores.
And for quick meals at home, you can choose things like already-cut onions or freshly-pressed garlic, for instance, which will reduce meal preparation time. Many stores also now have freshly-prepared food bars where you can pick up a meal to go and pay for it by the pound. Just be sure to avoid potentially toxic food ingredients like canola oil, ambiguous "flavorings" that are not specified, and hidden forms of MSG such as yeast extract and vegetable protein.
4) Learn new recipes and prepare larger meals with extra leftovers. Sometimes all it takes to kick start a sustainable whole food-based lifestyle is to simply learn how to cook better. Purchase some whole food-based cookbooks and enroll in some cooking classes if the idea of preparing fresh meals on a regular basis seems daunting to you. If traditional cooking and meal preparation methods interest you, the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) cookbook Nourishing Traditions is a great place to start. (http://www.westonaprice.org/thumbs-up-reviews/nourishing-traditions)
Once you begin learning new recipes and meal ideas, you can start cooking up extra portions and freezing them for later use to save time. You can also store your meal leftovers in the fridge and use them throughout the work week as whole food lunches. Just be sure to warm them up in a toaster rather than in a microwave to avoid potentially damaging the nutritional quality of your food.