How I Finally Stopped Eating Processed Foods
I used to see a family-size bag of Doritos and would proceed
to devour the whole bag in one sitting, hating myself as I kept reaching back
for more. I would promise that each next chip would be the last. It wasn’t.
Now, when I see that same bag, I think, “Fake food!” It
offers nothing nutritionally, and it will make me crave more the moment the
over sensationalized flavors hit my tongue. I know I will regret eating it the
second I start.
Food affects everything
about our being.
It is the thing we put into our body on a daily basis, the
thing that is most likely to change and impact us. With illnesses and health
problems, we need to look first at diet. How have you been teaching your body
If you’re training it with only eating processed foods and
refined sugars (what has become the American diet), then it’s not getting the
nutrients it needs for its basic bodily functions. That will lead to countless
food related diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac arrest,
and even cancer. Cancer has proven in countless studies to be reversed by
switching to a plant-based, whole food diet. By eating fake food, you are
literally feeding the diseases and encouraging them to grow.
Food is tied to
Our motivations behind eating are so fascinating. For
primitive humans, food was a basic survival need driven by instincts. It has
evolved to become closely linked with emotions. We eat for pleasure. Food
becoming arousing, almost reminiscent of sex (yolk porn anyone?). We eat when
we’re sad to fill a void. We eat especially when we’re bored, because what’s
more entertaining than food?
These are not reasons to eat. As a society, this is how our
relationship with food has evolved, but it’s up to each individual to recognize
this and break away from this unhealthy pattern. Here are my tips to stop
eating processed foods.
1) Stop watching food
Everything we see or watch gets absorbed into our brains.
See food, want food. That’s how my brain works. I had to stop watching all my
recipe videos, cut myself off of “Great British Bake Off” and the countless
other shows that made my mouth water just by presenting the tantalizing,
delicious food. Put away your computer and go take a walk outside instead!
2) Learn about health.
Take time to learn about nutrition. I recommend watching
documentaries such as “Forks Over Knives” or “The Magic Pill”. These helped
with shaping my psychology towards processed foods and really understanding the
damage they can do to our bodies. We don’t see it in the moment until it’s too
late, but these documentaries give us a glimpse of what could happen if we
continue down the processed food-guzzling path. It’s shocking and eye-opening.
In addition, when I eat fresh food, I like to simultaneously
look up what nutrition it offers. From this, I have learned a wealth of
information: what micronutrients whole foods contain, what different vitamins
and minerals do for our bodies. So many fruits and veggies beyond oranges
contain vitamin C, including broccoli, peppers, and strawberries.
Once I learned about how these foods work inside my body to
keep it functioning optimally, I made the connection that food truly is meant
to nourish, sustain, and energize. If it’s not doing this, then it’s not really
3) Stop accepting
free or cheap food.
This one took a while for me to learn. I even wrote a piece
called “How to Save Money on Food”. I used to think free food is better than no
food. But I’ve learned the lesson that this is not true at all. Fake food does
nothing for me nutritionally, offers no energy, and in fact, makes me feel sick
and disappointed with myself after eating.
No food can certainly be better, and I’ve learned that with
doing intermittent fasts in the first halves of my day. They make me feel
really good and energized.
Plus, cheap food is often synonymous with processed foods.
What did they do to the food to make it so cheap? Do you recognize every item
in the ingredients list? Whole fruits and veggies can be pretty cheap, and I
definitely recognize them as offerings from Mother Earth.
4) Try a whole-food,
Whenever I ate mac & cheese, I would account for
recovery time after. This makes no sense. Food is meant to nourish, sustain,
and energize. We shouldn’t be medicating ourselves immediately after eating
with TUMs or acid reflux medicine. This means the food is not doing its job,
and in fact, hurting our bodies. It’s not really food, it’s poison.
When I switched to a whole-food, plant-based diet, I noticed
how I felt light and springy after my meals. I ate as much raw food as I could,
and I felt full and satiated. I felt energized and alert. I didn’t crave more
food after, which was a somewhat unfamiliar feeling to me. I became less lazy
and more proactive.
Try it yourself, feel the effects of eating nutrient-dense
5) Incorporate umami
flavor into your meals.
Taste is incredibly important in food. Historically, taste
served as information. Sweetness denoted sugar and therefore energy, saltiness
made food taste good and helps with bodily functions. The processed food market
is oversaturated with these two.
Sourness and bitterness were warnings about food going bad or
poisonous foods, respectively. But we have learned to work with foods of both
these profiles, such as lemons and arugula.
The savory, pungent deliciousness flavor umami wasn’t discovered until about
2002. It denotes the availability of certain amino acids that our body needs to
function. Umami is often the missing element in many dishes. It’s what finally
made my meals feel complete.
Once I learned about this, I make sure to add umami to
everything I eat. Nutritional yeast, cooking foods to caramelize them,
mushrooms in all forms, or miso soup are all ways to unlock this flavor and
bring in those missing nutrients. Umami helped me feel satiated at last and
didn’t leave me running to my kitchen for more.
This feeling was unfamiliar to me, as someone who used to
describe herself as perpetually hungry. This is another trick with fake foods.
They aren’t providing this full spectrum of flavors, which is synonymous with
nutrients you need. Your body won’t feel complete and will incessantly crave
more. By giving your body what it needs, you might finally feel truly full.
6) Train your brain.
Now, when I see anything that comes in a package, I think,
“Fake!” This new practice made me painfully aware of how much fake food is
floating around our universe. I put myself to the test and went into a grocery
store. There were things that I normally would have gravitated towards, like
lentil chips that promised no added sugar or sugar-free, high protein ice cream.
When I saw these this time, I said “Bad!”
By doing this, I’m constantly reinforcing the notion that
all these packaged processed foods are bad. Our brains are malleable, and by
repeating a behavior or thought process, we can train them. Try this practice
next time you watch TV. How often do they show processed foods?
7) Try an
This one is hard, I know. Not eating for 12-16 hours?
But if you actually try it, you learn a lot about your body.
You learn that you don’t NEED food all the time. Every body is different, and
this may help you start to tune into yours. Breakfast may or may not be the most
important meal of the day. That’s up to you to decide, not society.
Once I learned about food
as it relates to our health, I couldn’t even look at processed foods anymore.
Food doesn’t control you. You control your mind and you’re
the one who has total agency when you put a piece of food into your mouth.
Don’t forget that. Learn to check in with your body, and not allow the mind to
win the battle between the two. Are you actually hungry, or are you bored, sad,
or enticed? Learn to distinguish it all, and start to retrain your brain to
think about food differently.
Food is meant to nourish and sustain, not weigh us down and
make us feel greasy, heavy, unhappy, or cause life-threatening diseases. Check
in on your relationship with food. Is your food working for you or against you?
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