A healthy lifestyle. You could easily think that this goal is something you work towards, achieve, check off your list and move on. Wrong. Healthy lifestyles take maintenance. It really is more of an ongoing process rather than a check-list item. Everyone has changes or improvements they can make. Sometimes we don’t even realize that our choices are hindering our progress.
Today we’re focusing on detoxing our lives – to create the lifestyle we want. One way to bolster positive energy and improve our size is by eliminating things that work against us, like processed foods. How many of you have goals to stay away from that drive thru? And how many of you have feelings of guilt or frustration when you partake of the greasy bag of goodness, despite your healthy eating goals? That”s what we thought. Today we’re going to recommit to eating healthy, let go of those unwanted emotions, and allow ourselves to live in the present, while setting goals that will help us look to the future.
Positive energy and goals that help us move toward successful future outcomes is how we make change.
Defining What’s Processed
It’s time to get serious. Processed foods taste great but they can cause a lot of harm to our bodies and sabotage our healthy eating goals. But what exactly is bad? Well, processed foods contain high amounts of salt, nitrates and other chemicals used as preservatives and flavor enhancers. No big deal right? Wrong. These things can contribute to obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart attack, stroke, and the list could go on and on. If you’re willing to take the risk on these bigger health concerns, then think of it this way. Processed foods are robbing you of a lifestyle where your body feels great and it has the premium fuel it needs.
But we still haven’t define what processed foods you’re eating? There are several popular approaches, and you can spend quite a bit of time learning about any of them if you google “processed foods”. But here are some general guidelines that might help you start deciding what “processed” is for you.
- If you pick it up at a drive thru – it’s probably processed.
- If it’s drenched in grease or doused with salt – it’s probably processed.
- If it’s “prepared” or you can take it from frozen to ready to eat if you nuke it for a few minutes – it’s probably processed.
- If it has loads of sugar or artificial sweeteners – it’s probably processed.
- If it can sit on the shelf for a long time without losing it’s nutritional value or flavor – it’s probably processed.
Notice that we say “probably processed”. You may be able to find exceptions to any of these, but the chances are slim.
The most important thing you can do is to define what’s processed in your current meal selections and then choose which ones you’re going to get rid of first. If you’re eating mostly processed foods now, odds are that your efforts to stop cold turkey are going to be disastrous. You’ll be frustrated that there’s nothing “familiar” to eat. So lets be reasonable.
Setting Achievable Goals
Any detox goal is best reached by setting achievable goals. You’re changing a habit that you’re comfortable with to a lifestyle that you may not know much about yet. It’s ok to test the waters. And when it comes to cutting processed foods, we promise you’ll be pleased with the results. Here’s a list of common things you can cut to get you started. Our advice, choose 1-3 items and cut them this week. Come up with healthy, non-processed alternatives to put in their place. You’ll be surprised that there’s plenty of taste and flavor in these healthier choices and how much your food budget can cover when you’re not purchasing all those “preservatives”.
- Stop soda – try flavored waters or even just track how much water you’re drinking in a day.
- Stop meals that include a drive-thru – instead, pack a salad, or make a sandwich.
- Stop sugared cereals or sweet breakfast treats (donuts, danishes, etc.) – an egg scramble with sausage, peppers, and onion with a slice of toast will keep you full longer. Drink orange juice if you’re looking for something sweet.
- Stop deep-fried and heavily sautéed in butter items – try replacing your cooking oils with coconut or olive oil. Replace mayo with greek yogurt sprinkled with dill or dried onions, and replace butter and jam on toast with half an avocado.
- Stop nuking your meals – heating them up is fine. Replace frozen dinners with leftovers for lunch, or try a new salad recipe.
- Stop eating from cans – fresh is always better. Hit the produce section for fruits and veggies in season. Skip canned soups or pasta sauces and find simple recipes with few ingredients that you can make fresh in just a few minutes. (You can always make a double batch of pasta sauces and freeze half of it for simple meal preps later on. The same goes for homemade soups!)
So join us in detoxing processed foods this next week. Spend a few minutes this weekend deciding what items you’re going to eliminate, adjust your weekly meal plan, and get ready to eat and feel better. Leave us a comment below letting us know what foods you’re going to eliminate – we’re cheering for you!