With respect to this food and wellness blog, the "norm" in our society is to go for convenience. We are busy, I get it. But I believe convenience foods have become one of the major culprits to our nation's declining health.
Convenience foods are pre-packaged, prepared foods that are usually manufactured in large facilities by machines. In order to be shelf-stable (not decompose), they must contain preservatives. They come dressed in pretty bags, boxes and cans with all sorts of claims - natural, healthy, whole grain, fortified, nutritious are just a few of the clever words printed on them to convince us that they are as good as what you would make in your own kitchen. But turn the package around and read the ingredients. Do you have monosodium glutamate, partially hydrogenated soybean oil or hydrolyzed corn protein in your pantry? Me neither.
I believe with every fiber of my being that If we were to "eat" outside of the box, we would be a much healthier population. Don't get me wrong - sometimes you need something that is packaged. I stress the word "sometimes." If the bulk of your diet or the diet you feed your children requires a can opener, microwave or recycling, you might be setting yourself (and your kids) up for a higher risk of health problems, not the least of which is obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Why? Packaged foods are generally higher in sodium, sugars, fats (the unhealthy kind), calories, chemicals and food dyes - all of which are contributing factors to diseases. They have also been linked to learning and behavioral disabilities, ADD/ADHD, autism, mood swings, depression and fatigue.
You'd be hard pressed to find any doctor, nutritionist or health expert that would tell you that you don't need a diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meats. We all know we should be eating more of these food groups, especially the fresh veggies. So why don't we? Convenience. Ugh. There's that word again. How convenient is it to be sick? To be in a doctor's waiting room? To monitor blood sugar? To fill yet another prescription?
As spring is about to push forth an abundance of new veggies and fruits, I urge you to use this time as a springboard to better health. Once you eliminate the packaged foods and dig in to what is growing in your area, you will be amazed at how your tastes change. You will taste the sweetness of a carrot, the bitterness of collard greens, the spiciness of a radish and the creaminess of an avocado. You will poop more and whine less. Yep - diets rich in veggies clean out your intestines and make you feel great. Your skin will glow, your energy will improve and you'll start healing your body from the inside out. I can't think of one boxed food that can promise that - and mean it.
If you don't know where to start, I suggest taking inventory of your kitchen. See where you can substitute fresh, real ingredients for packaged foods. Pick up some new cookbooks or search online for new recipes. Start cooking more and appreciate the blessing of having access to fresh foods. Join a local CSA (community-supported agriculture) to have veggies delivered to you or start frequenting area farmers' markets. See what the land has to offer. I can promise you it will be better for you than what comes from a factory.
If you're wanting recipe ideas or ways to make the switch, comment on this blog and let me know! Don't forget to check out my Recipes page!