A food is considered ultra-processed if it has been produced using industrial-scale techniques and ingredients that you might not be familiar with or would not use in your own cooking. Ultra-processed foods are frequently low in nutrients that are good for your body and rich in bad fats, sugars, and chemicals
Let's face it: processed meals are simple and quick to prepare. The likelihood of completely giving up processed meals is scarce despite the fact that they have a negative reputation. There's no need to fully exclude processed foods because they have a role in the diet. In areas experiencing food insecurity, diets devoid of processed goods may be more monotonous and lead to malnourishment.
Reducing the amount of ultra-processed foods—the most severe kind of processed foods—might be a more practical objective. Ultra-processed foods, such as frozen meals and boxed cookies, account for about 60% of our diet.
What Are Ultra-Processed Foods?
Although the terms "processed" and "ultra-processed" are often used and typically connote something unpleasant, what really qualifies as processed or ultra-processed?
Most of the food we consume every day has been processed unless it's broccoli that you picked straight out of your garden. But as we'll see, that's not always a terrible thing.
Food is processed when its natural form is altered in order to extend its shelf life, improve its flavour, make it safe to store or consume, or even boost its nutritional content.
Foods can be processed using techniques including pasteurisation, canning, fermentation, freezing, and drying.
A food is considered ultra-processed if it has been produced using industrial-scale techniques and ingredients that you might not be familiar with or would not use in your own cooking. Ultra-processed foods are frequently low in nutrients that are good for your body and rich in bad fats, sugars, and chemicals. Additionally, this may result in a number of illnesses linked to weight, heart health, and general well-being.
5 Ways To Cut Back On Ultra-Processed Foods
Eat Whole Fruits
Instead of selecting fruit juice or fruit items like jam or apple juice, try opting for entire fruit. The fruit's fibre is frequently removed from processed types, and sugar is added. It's simple to grab a banana for a snack or a handful of blueberries for breakfast when there's a bowl of fruit on the counter.
Try organising your workday snacks on the weekends if you find yourself grabbing highly processed meals since they are quick and easy while you are rushing to go to your meeting or your child's football practice. To make things easy to grab and go, set aside pieces of trail mix, carrots and celery with hummus, Greek yoghurts, and fruit with natural nut butters.
Make Eggs Your Best Friend
Try having a whole egg or two for breakfast instead of cereal or yoghurt with added sugar. You will feel fuller till lunch if you eat eggs. Their inclusion of all nine necessary amino acids makes them a complete protein, which explains why. More vitamins and minerals are found in eggs. You must consume the full egg, yolk included, in order to get all of its health advantages.
You can prepare scrambled eggs or an omelette in less than ten minutes. Another quick breakfast option is to prepare an egg bake loaded with veggies that you can reheat for many days.
Make Your Own Snacks
Not every meal you enjoy has to be given up. Replace prepackaged meals with handmade kitchen basics and your favourite snacks.
You can make healthier, more nutrient-dense, and preservative-free vegetable chips, crackers, popcorn, granola bars, and trail mix by creating your own. So that they're as easy to grab on the go as store-bought equivalents, package snacks in reusable ziplock bags.
Certain foods are not always unprocessed or nutritious, even if they are vegan, organic, or gluten-free. Examine nutrition labels and use critical thinking in marketing. Watch out for substances you've never heard of before such as high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils along with extra sugar or salt.