“Isn’t cooking at home healthier for you?”
Well, only if what you choose to be cooking is better for you than anything you’d get at a fast food short-cut or greasy diner. Even higher end restaurants can use chemical laced foods that are harmful to your crusade against cancer.
So, what is a processed food?
It’s pretty simple, really. You can determine whether a food is processed or not simply by looking at the ingredient list. The longer the ingredient list, the more processed a food is likely to be. Processed foods are usually found in the center aisles of the grocery store, meaning between the produce/bakery and the toiletry and hair care products (at least that’s how my local chain store is set up.) and are more likely to contain ingredients that you are not able to recognize or ingredients that you wouldn’t have in your kitchen.
Things like high-fructose corn syrup for example are obviously on the well-known, “processed food” ingredients item list. This is basically a sweetener added to nearly every canned good and processed pre-packaged ready to heat meal in a box a lot of families eat for lunch or serve their family when they are tired after a long day at work. It’s understandable, it’s cheap, easy and fast without that greasy bag on the counter to remind you that you just ate something you knew you shouldn’t.
Here’s a list of the top 10 worst processed foods to watch out for.
- Palm Oil
- White Processed Foods
- Corn Syrup
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Sodium Benzoate And Potassium Benzoate
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
- Sodium Nitrates And Sodium Nitrites
- Blue, Green, Red, And Yellow Artificial Dyes
So I know what you’re saying “I’m cooking at home, i’m using fresh ingredients and maybe I use a few cans as a short cut, or a marinara sauce for spaghetti.” Think about it. If you aren’t making every single aspect of the food from start to finish then you have no idea what is in your food.
Yes, that marinara sauce more than likely has some form of corn syrup in it even if you used a simple can of tomato sauce as a base, maybe even a red food dye. The rolls you got that you were going to use as garlic bread may have shortening in it. Not to mention the butter you were going to use to garlic toast it up probably came from cows riddled with hormones and antibiotics and chemicals that help them continue to produce milk when they aren’t supposed to. Be cautious about where the milk was sourced from and how they treat their livestock. Oh and let’s not forget the tin cans all of your vegetables you got may have BHA in them to keep them from going bad and they’ve just been in there soaking it up in that chemical soup bath.
Follow the links to learn more about each one of these typical food additives and how they impact your health in a negative way. Remember these ingredients next time you are at the grocery store. Hopefully we’ll all be making better choices when checking off items on the grocery list.
So what do you do?
Stay away from foods that you wouldn’t be able to produce or make yourself at home. Stick to unprocessed, natural foods, mostly found on the periphery of the grocery store, such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat and other single-ingredient foods.
I know I said previously that I’m going Vegetarian and hopefully Vegan by the end of 2017. Why would I mention you should eat meats and dairy? Because I’m not you, even though I’m going on this journey, I don’t expect you to emulate me. If you want to eat meat and dairy products, that’s up to you. If you want some encouragement to NOT eat these things, well you’re welcome to join me. I don’t want to be a preachy Vegan in the end and that starts with respecting others nutritional opinions and hopefully open a dialogue about why we do what we do and what evidence we have to support our decisions.
I would like to mention that one staple in my veganization of grocery line items I like to keep on hand is Nutritional Yeast . This helps combat my cravings for cheese and I don’t think I’d be as strong in the fight without it. I’ll talk more about it and it’s uses in an upcoming post.