How to Eat Less Processed Food on a Plant-Based Diet

Processed foods are those that have undergone changes or have undergone some degree of industrial processing before reaching our table so that we can consume them.

Food processing makes available to us many products that we would not be able to consume if it were not for this technique, it allows us to acquire seasonal foods throughout the year. Without this process, a great variety of food products that we find in supermarkets and stores would not be available to us.

But over-processed foods can be a problem for a healthy diet. In the United States, for example, an alarming statistic is already emerging: these foods account for more than half of all calories consumed. They account for almost 90% of added sugar consumption in the American diet.

You know that eating a more plant-base diet is good for your heart, gives you more energy, and provides a nutrient dense diet that is balanced and satiating. In addition to reducing animal consumption, you are also going to try and reduce processed foods as much as possible, while switching to more whole and clean foods. If you are used to frozen dinners, bags of chips, and boxed ingredients, this might be a bit of a transition.

Here are some ways to ease into eating less processed foods when you start your plant-based diet.

-Start Reducing Processed Food Slowly

Unless you want to overwhelm yourself and give up during the second week, don’t get rid of all your processed food in one day. Slowly start getting rid of 1-2 processed foods at a time, and replacing them with cleaner alternatives. This is the reason so many other diets fail. Not only are they too restrictive, but people try to make too many changes at one time.

If most of your diet is made up of frozen or processed foods, find one meal or snack that you can replace with something healthier, whole, and plant-based. Maybe this is switching out your morning cereal with oatmeal, or you decide to put together your own little hummus plate for an afternoon snack instead of the packaged snacks you typically eat.

-Learn How to Make Dressings and Sauces

An easy way to use less processed food is to make your own salad dressings, condiments, and sauces. They sound intimidating if you have never done it before, but are actually much easier than you might think. You can start small by skipping the bottled dressing, and instead just drizzling oil and vinegar on your salad. Most dressings can be made really easily with just a few ingredients. This gets rid of unnecessary sodium, sugar, and the many additives the bottled stuff has to keep it fresh.

-Start Cooking More from Scratch

Eating more whole and plant-based foods means to cook more from scratch. This might not be your favorite thing, but there are a lot of benefits to it, even aside from the fact that you can save money. Again, don’t feel like you have to learn how to cook 3 meals a day from day one. Just start slow, maybe cooking 1-2 dinners a week until you get used to it, or just trying 1 new recipe every week that is a completely plant-based recipe you have never tried before.

-Consider Food Delivery Services

If you are new to cooking at home, start with a food delivery service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. This will allow you to try new recipes, practice your cooking skills, and not have to worry about going to the grocery store for all the ingredients.

Processed foods can bring us several disadvantages, such as: added sugars, salt or fat for better preservation, or more calories and less protein. So, I advise you to take into account these tips to consume less processed foods.

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