Monday, 4 April 2016

Cutting Down on Processed Food

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I mentioned in my 30 before 30 post that one of the things I wanted to do was cut down the amount of processed food I eat. While I don't think I eat too badly, I'd gotten into a bit of a food rut, and pretty much every dinner involved heating something up from the freezer. Snacks were generally crisps or biscuits and we seemed to be eating the same thing every week, which was just boring.

I have read various articles and such about the impact of processed food on your health, and I am not super against pre-prepared food, I just want to eat less of it. Particularly to cut down the amount of non-food food I eat. Things that include mainly ingredients you can't pronounce. Anything where I could make it myself, and if I did it would contain a lot less sugar, salt and other nasties. I also think that if I start making more of my food from scratch, I will naturally end up eating more variety, and eating more fruit and veg, which is something I struggle with, despite actually really liking vegetables.

I knew if I tried to go hardcore and quit processed food altogether I'd fail after a week, so I set myself a goal. The aim is

- four from-scratch dinners a week
- four from-scratch lunches a week
- six from-scratch breakfasts a week (one day off for the free pastries in the office!)
- swap all biscuit type snacks for home made snacks or raw snacks like dates, unsalted cashews and carrot sticks. You can prise my crisps from my cold dead hands however!

As per my 'rules' from-scratch is allowed to include anything pre-made from the shops as long as I know/can name and visualise what all the ingredients are.  I definitely cheat with 'good' pre-made stuff where I can!

I'm about three weeks in to my challenge now and so far it is going ok! I think not pushing myself to make something from-scratch every day has definitely helped, I genuinely wouldn't have lasted a week otherwise! The main thing I have learnt is preparation is key. I've had mostly quiet weekends the past few weeks, so I've been able to set aside a good hour or so to do the food shop, and a few hours each Sunday to meal prep for the week. I don't know how I will fare when we have a weekend away. James is on board with the experiment, as long as it doesn't mean too much more effort for him, as he usually does the cooking in the week, which I feel is fair enough.

The most difficult things for me have definitely been swapping out the biscuits for more natural snacks, and giving up pre-made sauces and condiments. I ended up going to Whole Foods last weekend and came back with fancy hummus and chipotle ketchup (with no weird ingredients) which filled the mayo and ketchup place hole in my life temporarily. I also made a loaf of banana bread which really helped when I had a biscuit craving last week! Necessity may make me a baker yet!

The biggest benefit I have seen is that I am definitely eating more fruit and vegetables, probably much closer to 5-a-day than the 2-3 a day I was having before, and I have had a much greater variety of meals too (although thinking of them takes a lot of brain power!) Health wise I haven't seen a huge change yet, but it hasn't been very long, and I did eat and drink quite a lot over Easter, so I am not sure it is quite the right time to judge just yet!

I might do a separate post about meal planning/preparation and what I've been eating, as this is already getting pretty long, but so far I am enjoying the change in eating habits!

1 comment:

Style Eyes said...

I have been trying to cut back on processed foods for quite a while and it can be difficult especially if you are busy. I would definitely recommend the new Deliciously Ella everyday cookbook for healthy/ natural recipes.They are some really quick and satifying options plus some great alternatives to sweet treats. I have tried quite a few for my children and they love them too.