How many hours have you worked out at the gym or rode a bike, trying to tone your body and work toward your fitness goal? For many of us, the amount of hours doesn’t always show improvement. Trust me, we understand the frustration!
However, the reason we struggle to see results has something to do with our hassle-free, quick-fix dietary habits. Canned, frozen, and packaged foods often contain ingredients that can negate the rest of your health regimen, like saturated fats, added sugar, and excess salt.
Below, we explore eight ways in which we can detox from overly processed foods and drinks.
1. Start Slowly
When your body gets used to an unhealthy lifestyle, breaking old habits proves difficult. Studies show that when people cut down on their consumption of processed food, they tend to experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms similar to those felt by patients who quit alcohol and drugs.
Start your detox diet slowly by gradually reducing your intake of processed foods and replacing them with healthy substitutes. For example, you can try nonfat popcorn as an alternative to french fries.
2. Drink More Water and Fewer Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
A study on the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages shows a correlation to a higher risk of premature death. The results demonstrated that the deaths were caused primarily by cardiovascular disease and, to a lesser extent, cancer.
Of course, no one wants a premature death. So, start flushing out any excess sugar by drinking six to eight glasses of water every day. It will improve cellular oxygenation.
Experts have demonstrated that water helps the colon and kidneys to remove toxins and waste from the body more effectively. Alternatively, you can drink fresh fruit or vegetable juices—with no sugar, of course!
3. Make Your Own Versions of Processed Foods
Save your money, eat healthily, and help the environment by avoiding processed foods that you can cook in your home. It may sound taxing; however, with a little planning, you can create your own versions of your favorite dishes.
Some of the quick and easy processed foods that you can make at home include:
- Fresh juices
- Salad dressings
- Ketchup and sauces
- Pie crust
- Spice mixes
4. Add Fresh Food to Your Daily Diet
Eating only fresh foods ensures no chemicals, dyes, or preservatives enter your body. Plus, fresh food generally offers more nutritional value than processed foods. Preservatives prolong the shelf life of processed foods, but they harm the body in several ways over time.
Always choose fresh, organic, local produce that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Add an apple at breakfast or during snack time. Or, push yourself to eat salad for lunch. It will help you form the habit of eating fresh foods on a daily basis.
5. Reduce the Amount of Salt in Your Meals
Processed foods like cold cuts, cured meats, packaged bread, canned soups, burgers, and pizzas contain high sodium levels. Reduce the salt in your food to keep high blood pressure or cardiovascular diseases at bay. Avoid fast-food restaurants and control your salt consumption at home by choosing the following replacements:
- Citrus, lemon juice
- Ground pepper
- Apple cider vinegar
- Cilantro leaves
6. Limit or Avoid Processed Meats
Who doesn’t love bacon for breakfast? What’s a cookout without a hot dog? With no time for a healthy, sit-down dinner—let alone time to cook one—processed foods tend to take over as the most convenient option.
Avoiding excess consumption of processed meats can help you maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Additives that contain sugars, sodium, and fats in frozen dinners lead to weight gain and health problems. Some of the ways you can limit or avoid processed meats include:
- Eating less frequently
- Reducing portion sizes
- Scheduling meatless days
- Choosing a plant-based diet as an alternative
- Avoiding all food labels that mention the words ‘cured,’ ‘salted,’ ‘nitrate,’ or ‘nitrite’
7. Make Healthier Versions of Frozen Meals
Consider batch cooking your dishes to make your own healthy frozen meals, like beef stew or an old-fashioned Lancashire hotpot. Just freeze the food for later and enjoy your favorite meals midweek. You can always fall back on the extra goodies in your freezer when you have too much on your plate. Also, by freezing your food in portions, you do not feel forced to finish it all at once.
Spend the weekend drafting a meal plan and start cooking for the week ahead. Try your best to avoid takeout or frozen meals despite how readily available they are at the restaurants and grocery stores. You can freeze meals like Greek moussaka, Italian spaghetti and meatballs, and Dauphinoise potatoes. Or, preserve delicious desserts like key lime pie, profiteroles, and muffins.
8. Go for Whole Grains over Processed Grains
Even though processed grains enjoy a longer shelf life than whole grains, whole grains provide more health benefits. They contain every part of the grain kernel: bran, germ, and endosperm. They also possess a slightly denser, rougher texture, making them higher in fiber than processed grain. Try to select whole wheat grain products when buying bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, and tortillas. A few of the most popular whole grains include:
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
Start Your Detox!
A detox diet helps you limit your consumption of processed foods by choosing healthier, fresher food options that offer natural vitamins and nutrients.
I know what you’re thinking: healthy food doesn’t taste as good. However, fresh food can taste delicious. Explore ways to season your food to your liking to make the detox a bit less challenging.
Of course, feeling hungry, bloated, and irritable serve as positive signs of a perfect detox regime, so don’t get discouraged by those signs. Fasting and drinking only healthy juices and water can boost your energy and improve your health. Take your time, and you will gradually develop a habit that builds immunity.
Start your detox today, and stay strong throughout! While it may be difficult at the beginning, improved health is worth it.