Eating Healthy In A World of Processed Foods
They say, “too much of a good thing can be bad” – at least that’s what most people like to believe. And yet they are not entirely wrong on this. We live in an age where food is unbelievably accessible and reachable that we find ourselves scoffing at the thought of queuing in a fast food line for more than sixty seconds. We live in an era where we adore every variety of instant noodles there is on the market that it has made its place as a staple commodity in our kitchen cabinets. The speed and convenience that these advancements brought about can be great at times, especially for busy moms and people running between multiple jobs. But just like the quote, “too much of something is bad”, there is always a dark flip side to everything. This speed and convenience we enjoy carries some health risks and danger for all of mankind. It has become a major contributing factor in the worldwide epidemic of obesity, which is growing worse over time.
Learning to balance healthy living in a world of processed foods is hard, but not impossible. While combo meals which are actually a good deal and tempting propaganda can sometimes make “healthy and fit” seem too far-fetched, the reality is it’s not. It just takes a matter of planning ahead of time and a reinforcement of better and healthier choices. Another matter to consider is how to balance the amount you eat to the amount of calories you burn through exercise or physical activity. There is no harm in eating your favourite potato chips or dining in your favourite fast food joint, as long as you stay conscious of your physical activity and exercise routine. Balance is still important. So, how can you achieve all these and what are some things you can do to eat healthy amidst a world of processed foods?
Steam, Bake, or Broil – Any food item as long as it is in its rawest form, chances are it is likely to stay healthy for a long time. But the way you prepare it is the deal breaker here. Stay away from food that is fried or cooked in oil or batter. This applies to vegetables too, not just meat. Basically, anything fried in oil is a sign that you should stay away from them.
Get it on the side – If you order a salad or a dish that comes with a dip or sauce, ask for it to be served on the side. That way, you can feel the real raw taste of the dish without any condiments and see if it suits your palate. You can also determine how much you consume, or if you even really like the taste enough to consume the calories that comes along with it.
Inquire about Substitutions – If your dish comes with a side of fries, ask if you can get a baked potato instead. Ask your waiter if they serve Paleo alternatives to your favourite dish. There are a lot of Paleo-friendly restaurants out there if you just ask them. Restaurants are often very willing to cater to these requests and make substitutions.
Plan Ahead – Choose a day or days of the week and designate them as food preparation days. We call this a “cook up” day. Use these day/s to make several days’ worth of healthy foods to bring with you to work, school, or wherever. You can put them inside glass containers and chill them in the fridge for you to eat in the next couple of days. If you have leftovers, you can still store them for later consumption. Also, don’t be afraid to mix and match some recipes so that you can have some variety among your meals. Eating the same kind of food even for two days is boring and bland. After all of these preparations are made, you won’t be tempted with a McDonalds run when lunch hour rolls around, plus that is an additional savings for you. This technique is actually budget-friendly and at the same time, health-friendly.
Ask for Less – If you’re ordering a sandwich, for example, which comes with barbeque sauce, ask for the waiter to go “light” on the sauce. And better yet, order the smaller or the regular-sized sandwich if you can. By doing this, you will save small amounts of calories in each food item you order. Although you might think you are not getting your money’s worth if you ask for “less”, just think of the long term effects to your health this might bring. Hospital and medical expenses are far more expensive compared to the amount you sacrifice on going less.
Minimize the Toppings – Toppings can be very tempting and alluring when it comes to food especially when it’s free and comes along with your dish or dessert. When ordering fast-food, stick to menu items that have the least amount of non-vegetable toppings. Try to pass on the calorie-heavy condiments and instead ask for extra vegetables. When ordering fruit ice cream, stay away from colourful toppings they sell it with. Those are just excess sugars and calories you are eating. Remember, more filling, less calories.
Be a Kid Again – Order off the kids menu. The serving sizes are smaller and oftentimes, the side “dish” is a fruit or vegetable, instead of a French fry or the like. You might it’s too childish but this is actually more practical and realistic. Most often, we don’t really need that extra-large serving of fries nor a large order of coke in our meal. Plus, the kids menu prices are often cheaper so it’s a win-win situation.
In the perfect world, we wouldn’t find ourselves in a line of cars at a fast-food restaurant or dragging the family out to a local diner for Tuesday night dinner. Love it or hate it, processed foods are a large part of our society, but that doesn’t mean we have to be food hermits. There is a way to make processed foods more health-friendly by making small, conscious choices each time you find yourself speaking into that talking black box.