There's enough research out there now that we can be certain that eating fewer processed foods can only benefit your health. Processed foods, basically most foods in a box, bag or can, are usually full of salt, preservatives, chemicals, food coloring, sugars and ingredients not found in nature. Why do they have these ingredients? Because it helps make the food that's been sitting for years in a box, bag or can to taste and look better. Did you know that a Twinkie has a shelf-life of 21 years? Click on the link to see what fast food looks like after two years.
If processed food and its ingredients aren't found in nature, our bodies have a hard time recognizing them and properly digesting them (or getting any usable nutrients from them). When food is hard to digest, the body becomes stressed. When the body is stressed, it becomes inflamed (and acidic). Many researchers believe Inflammation (of some sort) is the root of most chronic diseases, including allergies, heart disease, Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, MS, gout and many others. Decrease inflammation and acidity, decrease your risk for disease. Pretty simple math. Plus, processed foods make you cranky.
Natural foods, namely veggies, grains, beans, seeds & nuts and fruits cause little to no inflammation (unless you have an intolerance/allergy) and are much less acidic than processed foods and animal protein (meats, dairy and eggs). I'm not telling you to stop eating animal protein, although I eat very little, if any, of it. But, you can drastically improve your health simply by cutting out the processed foods. How?
1) Take inventory. Check your kitchen staples and see what you and your family eat on a regular basis. How much of it comes from a box, bag or can? How much of it is from the produce aisle? This will give you a good indication of how far you have to go.
2) Start small. Don't try to change everything overnight or you (and your family) will only get frustrated. Start with one meal a week. Talk to your family about why you are doing this and see if you can get them to help prepare the fresh meal. Instead of defrosting those frozen chicken nuggets or opening a bag of Goldfish, think of something else you can serve that isn't from a box, bag or can. Instead of drinking that Diet Coke, try water with fresh lemons and limes. (See Recipes link to the right).
3) Try 1 new, healthy recipe a week (see Recipe link to the right). Think of what you and your family like most and modify it to be healthier. ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING ON THE PLATE THAT YOU KNOW YOUR KIDS WILL LIKE. Tell them they have to have at least 3 bites of the new food before they can eat what they like that's on their plate. A new veggie? Google it and see the nutrients so you can educate yourself and your family.
Remember - the goal is to be conscious of what you're putting in your body and how your body reacts to that food. Take note of how your body feels after eating/drinking each food.