5 Ways Your Family Can Avoid Processed Foods

14 months.

I have to admit. Part of me is trying to figure out if I’m some kind of prophet or something…

On January 15th I published an article here about why I despise red food dye. Then a week later, on the 21st, I did one questioning where chicken nuggets come fromreferencing that now infamous “pink slime” picture we all recognize and attribute to McDonald’s.

Turns out, last week on February 1st, Yahoo News published a very popular article entitled, “McDonald’s confirms that it’s no longer using ‘pink slime’ chemical in hamburgers.” The author, Eric Pfeiffer, covered the topic of the mystery of processed meat and even mentioned red food dye, just as I did in my articles.

What does this mean? It means we as Americans, and we as parents of children, are officially questioning where our food comes from. We care now. The Eighties are over, sadly.

But it’s not just about questioning where our meat and food dye comes from. It’s about where all of our food comes from. And the real reason we’re having to ask this question to begin with is because, according to the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, over 60% of the average American’s diet consists of processed foods.

In other words, the majority of the food we eat has been… messed with. And it only makes sense that the more processed a food becomes, the less nutritional value it can have.

So while it’s important to ask what’s in our food, it’s even more crucial to find out how to avoid processed foods as much as possible.

Fortunately, this “food prophet” is willing to part the red sea of processed foods (receiving its color thanks to Red 40 and Crimson Lake) which maintains its perfect consistency thanks to sodium lauryl sulfate.

Today I bring to you the 5 commandments of avoiding processed foods:

1. Nix fast food. Fast food is nothing but processed food. From mysterious meats to white bread buns to soda to wash it down, fast food restaurants are the epitome of what processed food is.

2. Only eat foods with 7 ingredients or less. The higher the number of ingredients it takes to make a food, the better chance you’re going to see ingredients you can’t pronounce; meaning you have no idea what they are. Should we really be eating something with mysterious ingredients? The FDA doesn’t care, but I do.

3. Recognize high fructose corn syrup as the most obvious dead-giveaway. When genetically modified corn is turned into sweetener for ketchup, hot dogs, and the buns we put them on, we begin to question whether or not our meal really needs to be that sweet and so likely to give us Diabetes.

4. Avoid buying any food that comes with “microwave instructions.” I think subconsciously, we realize that cooking food alongside radiation is something we should avoid. So what does it say about a food that was designed to be prepared this way? Probably not something to make a habit of.

5. Prepare as much of each meal as possible yourself. The idea is to use the freshest ingredients possible. After all, the healthiest foods you can eat don’t even have a nutritional label on them at all; nor are they as convenient as the canned, microwavable version.

Image: An opened can of bite sized sausage, via Shutterstock.

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  1. by CaliCat

    On February 10, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I agree with much of what you said, except #4 (avoid microwave cooking). Microwaves do use radiation but it’s not dangerous or even cancer-forming like X-ray radiation. It’s no worse than a conventional oven.

    I will say though that cooking in general will reduce the nutrition of content of most foods. Even bread will lose nutrients when it’s made into toast.

  2. by Nick Shell

    On February 10, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Thanks for agreeing 4/5′s with me, ha ha. I watched this documentary on Netflix called “The Beautiful Truth” and it changed my perspective on microwaves.

  3. by Ann

    On February 17, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Wait, you won’t use MICROWAVES (which can be fantastic for veggies) but are still buying processed food, just processed food with less than seven ingredients? Oh that’s RICH.

  4. by Nick Shell

    On February 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Ann, I use microwaves. What I am getting at is that microwave instructions often are a sign of a highly processed food.

  5. by mike

    On March 26, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I do not agree with number 4 as being a commandment. Old fashioned oats although not as good as steel cut oats has microwave instructions. Apply common sense. Also number 2 is out of line. If you know the ingredients, then you can make an informed choice. If you don’t know an ingredient then you should pass until you know what the ingredient is – chances are, if you don’t know it, it is likely highly processed.

    How do you feel about eating out at restaurants? Avoiding fast food is obvious – although difficult with kids. Most chain restaurants aren’t much better (Chili’s, Applebee’s, etc). Mom and Pop restaurants succumb to food service offerings as well. High end restaurants may be okay if you order wisely (probably use the same kind of processed deep frying oils).

  6. by Kim

    On August 16, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    THANK YOU for giving a simple plain english breakdown. Even with comments, whether I agree with them or not, its ten million times more helpful to most people than other solutions I’ve seen. I’m sorry world, but just going free-range organic is only realistic for about .1% of the population.