If you’re looking to lose weight, it’s easy to gravitate towards low-calorie convenience foods instead of real food — frozen “healthy choice”-type meals, diet sodas, low-fat and/or reduces-calorie products, etc. Over the last week or two, I’ve had several conversations with clients about quantity (calories and portions) vs quality (real food vs processed food).I am here to remind you that calories are just one part of the puzzle:
It’s important that you eat real food, and to do your best to stay away from processed products and chemicals. A Paris university just released a study of over 100,000 people that showed that for every 10 percent increase in the consumption of processed food, you have a 12 percent increase in cancer risk!
Processed foods are often loaded with sugar, preservatives, nitrites, artificial flavors and/or coloring, emulsifiers, and chemical sweeteners. They have fewer nutrients and less fiber than whole, unprocessed food. Many types of plastic packaging contaminate their contents with potentially harmful chemicals that disrupt your hormones and metabolism.
Not Real Food
I pulled a boxed dinner at random from the grocery freezer, and got a glazed chicken entrée from the most popular line of “healthy” frozen foods. You can probably guess which brand I’m talking about – it rhymes with “Mean Machine.” It’s a low-calorie dinner, so I suppose you could call it “lean”, but it sure isn’t healthy. Here are some of the issues I have with the ingredients:
- The chicken undoubtedly comes from industrial feedlots — that means the animals are loaded with antibiotics, hormones, and chemicals.
- The chicken is coated with high fructose corn syrup, multiple preservatives, salt, and artificial caramel color.
- The rice accompanying the chicken is blanched, enriched rice – meaning that all the nutrients have been stripped away, leaving just the carbohydrate shell. It also contains partially hydrogenated oil (trans fats), sugar, maltodextrin (more sugar), and artificial caramel coloring.
- To top it all off, the directions tell you to microwave the whole entree in the accompanying plastic tray. When plastics get heated, toxic chemicals leak out. Don’t microwave plastic — reheat food in a glass or ceramic container instead.
So today’s takeaway is to consider WHAT you’re eating, in addition to HOW MUCH. Do calories matter? They sure do, but calorie content is not the only important factor.
Real Food Is:
- Vegetables and Fruits (organic is best)
- Unprocessed Meat and Poultry (raised humanely and fed real food)
- Pasture-raised Eggs
- Wild-caught Fish (yep, farmed fish are fed chemicals, antibiotics, and are sometimes even given vaccines)
- Unprocessed Whole Grains (not “enriched”, organic is best)
- Hormone-free Dairy (whey protein, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, butter, milk)
Try to minimize the amount of packaged food that you eat, and avoid anything that has ingredients that you can’t pronounce!