We’ve been talking about how to cut out processed foods. The next step is to do some personal goal setting.
If you’ve come through the process with us so far, you’ve taken a look at your food at home, and you’ve learned a bit more about ingredients help us identify ultra-processed food. The question now is, “What are you going to do about it?”
The approach that you take really depends on your time, personality, and urgency. There is no right or wrong answer. Here are some ideas on ways to tackle cutting out processed foods.
Cut Out a Single Ingredient
One way to ease into this change is to focus on reading labels and cutting out a single ingredient. I started several years ago with High Fructose Corn Syrup. I found it amazing to realize how much of what I was eating contained this single ingredient. It wasn’t until two years later that I started focusing on artificial food dyes, and again was shocked at the impact on my grocery list.
You could also just focus on the Four No-No Ingredients that we previously outlined. That will get you headed in the right direction and fast.
Fix One Meal Time
Changing your grocery list can leave you suddenly at a loss of what to make at home. Your standby recipes may contain several canned or boxed ingredients that you don’t want to buy anymore. So what the heck are you supposed to eat now?
One way of making the transition a little smoother could be to tackle just one meal time to begin with. Perhaps you just want to fix breakfast time or snacks. Try to make this one meal time as whole food as possible. Eliminate boxes, cans, and jars. Make things from scratch as much as possible. When you do buy something processed, read the ingredients: you want to see a list that includes all ingredients that you know exactly what they are and you can pronounce them.
Experiment on Yourself
If you are in charge of cooking for the whole family, you’ll find that it’s not just a challenge for you, but for the entire household. If you just can’t handle the resistance from your spouse or kids right now, but are itching to make some changes, start with yourself.
This may mean that you are cooking one thing for yourself and another for your family, but if a little double work is what is going to get you on the Road to Real Food…then give it a go!
Dump It All
And maybe, just maybe, you are so angry or shocked at what you have learned about processed food that you can’t take it for even one more minute. Perhaps you have encountered a health issue that means you need to change your diet and ASAP. This fire under you is the perfect time to go through your pantry, dump it all, and start eating real.
This is a bumpy road, but one that many of us travel on, because the truth of what’s in our food is just too hard to swallow. If you choose this path, you’ll want to focus mostly on fresh foods. Your grocery cart should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, and if you use them, organic eggs, dairy, and meats. The few things that we still buy in a box or bags are the occasional pasta (I get whole wheat or gluten free), rice, dried beans (though I do tend to keep canned beans on hand as a last minute item), and peanut butter.
Any ingredients in the food you buy should be easy to pronounce and easily found in someone’s pantry. For example, yeast extract: sounds harmless, but it’s actually a form of MSG. So, if you read an ingredient like yeast extract, but it’s not something you could find in someone’s home…try to stay away.
Make Your Own Rules
Whatever path you choose, I hope that you feel good about it and knowing that you are taking a step in the right direction. Make your own rules. You don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.
I’d love to hear about your goals that you’ve set for yourself. If questions pop up, I’m here to help. I’ve been through this, and know the feeling of, “But what am I supposed to eat??” Please leave comments below, or join our Facebook group to discuss your questions and successes with the group: Road to Real Food with Rebecca
Related Road to Real Food posts:
- The Road to Real Food
- The Pantry Raid: How to Identify Ultra-Processed Food
- Processed Foods and The Four No-No Ingredients
- Pantry Raid, An Example
Photo credit: Flickr, Lyza