How Do I Ditch Processed Foods?
Beginning the journey towards better health and fitness can be very overwhelming for someone who’s just starting out. There’s tons of information (good and bad) out there that can really cause quite a bit of confusion. As a registered dietitian, many times, new clients will ask “how do I get started?” or “what should I do first?”
Just like someone who’s new to exercise might begin a new regimen by walking or easing into weight lifting, someone new to improving their nutrition can easily get started just by having a better understanding of what they are eating. One great benefit of the STYR Labs app, as you start, and develop, your personal journey, is the voice activated food logging feature, where you can simply tell the app what you’ve just eaten, and it will give you the caloric, macro and micro nutrient detail. This is an awesome way to quickly and easily understand the value (or lack thereof) of the food you are consuming.
One of the most important aspects of your journey to start with is to limit processed foods in your daily diet. By incorporating some easy to follow lifestyle guidelines, your body should notice a definitive difference within just a few days with higher energy levels, less afternoon slump and improved sleep.
Here are the first 12 of our top 24 recommendations to get you started (part 2 will be later this week)—and don’t forget to log your food consumption in the STYR Labs app, or wherever it is that you’re keeping track of your meals!
1. Increase produce. By taking this simple step, you will increase fiber, antioxidants & the overall feeling of being full. Start out easy. Add fruit to your morning, mid-day, or evening snack, or even better, in place of your snack. Make it a goal to add one vegetable to each meal – chopped spinach in your omelet, or roasted vegetables with lunch and/or steamed vegetables at dinner.
2. Ditch artificial flavoring. Flavor your water or beverages the natural way. Soak oranges, lemons, & cucumbers in your water overnight for a naturally high-in-vitamins flavored water. Use real sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup rather than artificial sugars.
3. Put in the prep work. Unfortunately, whole, natural, energy-giving foods are not going to magically appear in your lunch bag. Take the time to prepare meals (enough for leftovers) ahead of time, pack snacks to leave at work for the week (a bag of apples, jar of almond butter, bag of trail mix) and compile a few new healthy recipes for dinner for the week ahead.
4. Keep healthy snacks at work or in your gym bag. Nut butters, fruit and nut bars such as Lara and KIND bars, nuts, trail mix, and beef jerky just to name a few. What’s worse than working late, then showing up to the gym in starvation mode? It’s not an optimum way to end your day, mentally or physically. Be well prepared for the day ahead of you, whether it’s a busy day at work, meeting up with old friends over the weekend, or just a day at the gym.
5. Keep your goals visible. Make “SMART” (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals. Try using the STYR Labs App and tracker (or any other product you use) for a constant reminder of exactly where you are for the day’s goal, regarding your steps, calories burned, and more.
6. Do a search for some of your favorite meals—in the STYR Labs app, Pinterest, or even your favorite celeb chef’s website. Find some great recipes with easy to follow instruction, follow other people’s boards & pins that have similar interests in choosing and preparing whole foods, and start cooking. You will be sure to find plenty of fun and easy ways to make your favorite meals more nutrient dense! For example, using zucchini noodles in place of pasta, or using high protein chickpea pasta in place of regular pasta are both great ways to improve upon tried and true recipes.
7. Add exercise that you enjoy. Many people feel more motivated to make healthy choices following a good workout. You can check out some of Head Coach, Lisa Smith-Batchen’s ideas in the STYR Labs app.
8. Raid the pantry. Take a good look at what you already have in stock. If many items have a long list of unfamiliar ingredients, it may be time to ditch them. If it feels a bit too overwhelming to discard most of your pantry in one fell swoop, then you may prefer to just start small by replacing snacks initially (or whatever is the easiest step for you). Eventually, you can replace additional items such as salad dressings, cereals, desserts, etc.
9. Make a grocery list & stick to it – but don’t go hungry! One of the worst things you can do on your journey is to go shopping for groceries on an empty stomach. Everything will look delicious! Start with shopping the perimeter of the store where the healthier items are usually stocked, and then go to the inner aisles for items like olive oil, nuts, etc. If you are a Plus member in the STYR Labs app, you will begin seeing some of my own meal plans and grocery lists—don’t forget to use them!
10. Plan out the week. Not only does planning help with budgeting, but it takes away the pressure of “what’s for dinner?” each night. Carve out 30-45 minutes on the weekend to sit down, scan recipes, and plan for the week ahead. Single people may want to start by planning 2-3 meals to cook per week, and use leftovers for other dinners as well as mid-week lunches. Large families can try to focus on preparing meals every other evening and making sure there’s enough for leftovers, Or, if you’re able to cook every night, use leftovers for lunches the next day. After choosing a few new recipes, make a grocery list of all the ingredients you’ll need to prepare them, and go shopping all at once for the week ahead. You will be sure to love my meal and grocery plans in the Plus version of the STYR Labs app!
11. Eat a small (healthy) snack before social events. Not everyone is going to support a healthy lifestyle, so plan accordingly. Similar to grocery shopping, don’t go to an event on an empty stomach and hungry when there could be all kinds of tempting and unhealthy foods prepared, or worse, no food at all!
12. Look at the big picture. Don’t get too lost in the details of trying to decide if something is a highly processed food or not… is it in a package? Usually you’ll want to ditch it. Does it have a long list of ingredients? Ditch it. Does it grow on its own? Eat it. Would it still exist without humans to create it? Eat it. Remember, cooking is a form of slightly processing food. All foods will be somewhat processed unless they are raw – just try to keep it as simple & fresh as possible.
Stay tuned for the other half of this list later in the week!
Remember that you can start this process by taking the first few steps at your own pace. These tips are not always easy to implement all at once. Your journey to better health and fitness is a lifestyle shift, and one through which we will be supporting you with the STYR Labs app and coaching.
Join us, and let’s start ditching processed foods together!
If you are interested to hear more and receive personalized nutrition, check out STYR’s app, fitness tracker and suite of connected smart devices. Through the platform, you can track and log activity, food, hydration, sleep, nutrition, mood and more to personalize your nutrition needs based on data, science and access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.