Banning Processed Foods from the House (At Least Most of Them)

A strategic plan can help you cut out processed foods
photo: ppdigital
Eating well is a full-time job.  That's because food items that are easy to eat, that can be stored on the shelf for, say, decades, don't take any thought.  There is no chopping, no washing, no spoiling, no refrigeration.  These foods can sit in your glove compartment, purse, diaper bag, or office desk for eons, just waiting for you to eat them.

We've become accustomed to this convenience, and it is hard to beat.  Most of these foods are pretty tasty, too.  They have loads of sugar and salt.  What's not to like?

Well, your body doesn't much like them.  And if you can wean yourself off these foods, you will come to detest them.  I know it's true, because it happened to me.

A couple years back I cut back on as many processed foods as I could.  (Now I'm not crazy and I didn't want my kids to start hoarding food in their closets, so I was strategic):

  1. I cut out all candy (easy).  
  2. I decided to allow one processed snack in the house at a time.  I let my kids choose popcorn, pretzels, or crackers at the store.  We eat them until they are gone, when we snack on cheese, nuts, and fruit for a while.  Then we go back to the store and choose another snack.
  3. I cut out all prepared foods, except for chicken salad, which I cannot resist from time to time.  (This, by the way, was largely driven by the recession.  Cutting out prepared foods can save a LOT of money).
So what about convenience?  Yes.  It's an issue.  Here are a few tips:
  1. Buy whole foods that can be as convenient as processed foods: cheese, nuts, dried fruit.
  2. When you have to wash and chop produce, do some extra and stash the cut up produce in the refrigerator so it can be pulled out on a whim.
  3. Make food prep an activity you enjoy with your kids.  You have to do it anyway, so make it fun.  Engage your kids in baking banana bread.  Ask them to help you wash blueberries.  Teach them to peel carrots.  This will teach them a bit about food and nutrition, and you will be taking on the time honored tradition of making your kids do activities you loathe to do in the name of "teaching" them.  Brilliant.
What are your tips?  

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