Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Processed Foods

There are a lot of "diets" out there. I don't mean diet in the sense of being on a diet. I'm talking diet in terms of your diet...What you eat. People follow a variety of plans and build that plan into their lifestyle. Any change is difficult at first, but becomes easier over time. Sticking to it isn't always easy, but if you plan and shop according to your plan, you should be in good shape.

When I first changed my diet I didn't have a whole lot of trouble. I got rid of the bad and bought the good. For me this meant no white flour and a seriously reduced sugar content. No more pre-packaged meals ("diet" style or regular") were allowed in my house.  To this day, I haven't bought any. There are so many nasty things lurking inside those meals, especially sodium which was my main focus.  I drastically cut down on my alcohol intake, which has managed to creep back up recently. I've gotta decrease that again. I stopped drinking completely for a while, then would allow myself one or two drinks here and there, when out for dinner. I've been drinking more this summer.  Maybe it's the thought of a cool beverage on a hot summer day (or night) that makes me want a drink. Or maybe it's the fact that I've been much more social.  Whatever it is, it isn't good for me and I must cut back.

I thought about changing to a vegan lifestyle once.  Then I decided I couldn't handle that. NO animal products? NO WAY! That's not for me.  Plus I've read some scary information on the health impact on vegans. There's argument that vitamins and such can provide what might be lacking, or there are other sources to get what's lacking, in a vegan diet but.... FOR ME this wasn't the right choice.

I do participate (sometimes) in Meatless Mondays.  There are Mondays that I forget and others that I remember. I think that with better meal planning for specific days (or at least for Mondays) I'll be better able to remember.  I generally buy groceries for a couple weeks and then eat a meal on whichever day I'm in the mood for it.  Planning each specific day is annoying. I like to have fun and that's too regulated for me.  I think I can handle ONE planned day a week though, especially if it will keep me on track to remember that it's Meatless Monday!

One thing that I noticed is that I allowed my sugar content to creep up again. I've written before about liking cinnamon and sugar toast, which is a go-to snack for me. It's been too frequent of a snack so I had to take action. I threw my bread away. And my sugar.  If I need it for baking, I'll go buy a small bag. I don't see myself baking anything in the near future (I only bake for others) so I think I'm safe sans sugar. If it's gone, I can't figure out a way to eat my cinnamon and sugar toast-style concoctions (this has included rice cakes).  The truth is, I do not NEED sugar in my house. I don't use it unless I'm baking. I'll eat my toast if it's there, but I don't NEED it. So? Buh-bye, sugar. I am also not planning to purchase any bread on my next shopping trip. I don't generally eat sandwiches, so the only time I'm eating the bread is when I have my treat.  I've tried not eating as much of it, but I'm unable to resist. I guess I'll do what I did with some foods when I first started....They're just not allowed in my cart.

I generally eat healthy but even those small little things, like more booze and more carby snacks, are probably preventing me from dropping weight like I would want. Despite counting values, and despite tracking I've plateaued. I still desire a little loss.

It IS the quality of food and what you eat that makes a huge difference (especially when you've lost as much as I have). Sure, at the beginning I could eat some of those things without a second thought, mostly because I changed from white to whole wheat or whole grain (100%, please!). Now though, it's different...I've gotta become more strict and make some more changes.

I've also read about the non-fat, low-fat, light debate... These foods are packed with chemicals that aren't good for your body. They're also frequently bumped full of carbs, like sugar.  Sure, the fat and calories might be low, but the other things that are added aren't good. 

Trying to limit these, or even avoid them and buy full fat versions will be hard for me.  As it is now, I don't think I buy anything that doesn't have one of those qualifiers on the label.  The idea of buying full fat products scares me a little.  Moderation is the key when it comes to these... Fortunately a lot of what I buy that's labeled that way happens to be super processed....Most of which would be dairy products. I'm trying to cut down on processed foods.

One thing that I try not to eat much of is processed food. Processed foods (like those frozen meals) are so bad for you.  Even with a "diet" company label on the package, they're still not good. I'm sure some people have some success at times due to the portion control and some of the values (lower calories and fat)....BUT the sodium is a huge killer.  There are also other unhealthy things packed into that stuff.  Other foods that include this that I try to limit are pre-packaged foods like lunch meats, hot dogs, sausages, cheeses, pepperoni, etc.  I do pretty well limiting my processed meats. It's the dairy that I'm not so good at. I continue to buy it but I don't eat it often.  As infrequently as I eat them, I should be fine buying the full-fat, reduced chemical counterparts.

I did recently buy some turkey bacon, thinking that a BLT (minus the T) would be a good dinner idea. It's still in the refrigerator, unopened. The date is good but I'm not going to return it.  Call me weird, but I think that's a little weird.  I desperately need to shop this weekend, so I'm debating whether to open it and eat some of it or to just pitch it (the idea of waste pains me).  I'll probably eat some of it and do a healthy shop this weekend and start fresh.  Of course, eating a BLT would mean that I need to buy bread again, which I'm trying to avoid.  I wonder if making some sort of concoction in a low carb tortilla would work. I have some that I need to use. Perhaps I'll try.  The worst that can happen is that it will be horrible.

I came across this fantastic website about not eating processed foods; 100 Days of Real Food.  This site seems to be a great place for someone who wants to start cutting out processed foods. 

I know the differences between processed and what's not processed.  I know reasons to avoid processed foods. However, I'm not so great regarding recipes or coming up with ideas that do not include those things. There are some foods that I'm unsure about whether or not they'd be considered processed or not. Generally things that say raw, natural, or organic are safe, but reading labels is very important.  While I grasp the basic concept, I think I need to learn a bit more so that I don't start without the proper knowledge.  There's nothing like confusion to cause something to go astray.

I already buy a lot of organic products. I'd say my biggest issues are sugar and dairy.  I've already been eating whole grains, buy organic fruits and veggies, and generally avoid processed meats. Sugar will be easy, since I don't eat a lot of it and my bag has currently been placed in it's grave within my trash can.  I'd say dairy will be difficult for me. With the correct planning, though, I should be okay. As the website points out, their belief is not eating HIGHLY processed foods so full-fat dairy is okay. They don't eat raw (which would avoid any processed foods), which I think is a more realistic philosophy for me. I'm a little afraid to avoid non-fat/low-fat/reduced fat/light dairy products but I eat diary in moderation now, so a little extra fat shouldn't be too scary. In fact, most days, I eat too little fat, so this will actually be a good thing for me in that way too.

Dining out will be the hardest. How in the world am I going to stay organic at a restaurant?! This will be an area that I need to research a little better. I may have to go back to my old habit of not eating out for a while. I hate that though because that, like drinking, limits my socialization, which I so, so enjoy (and need!).

The website listed above has challenges that you can do.  I'm thinking that to start, I'll do the 10 day challenge.  Eating foods that are not processed and not eating out for 10 days (unless I discover the secret) won't be something that's difficult.  I also think that 10 days is a good place to start.  I'll learn if this is something I'll be able to do forever.  Of course there will be the occasional splurge (like a good pizza) but I don't think that's a bad thing. I'm doing this for my health overall. With any type of diet change, you're allowed a little wiggle room (I think). Unless, of course, you adapt a lifestyle which is very strict and you adhere to it perfectly.  I'm not a perfectionist. If I eat non-processed foods the majority of the time, I'm going to enjoy a piece of pizza now and again. 

I have a little bit of studying and some planning to do! I'm excited about this!! I plan on shop on Sunday, so Monday will probably be a good day to start my challenge.

Anyone up for doing a challenge with me!?.


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