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By Elena Lynch

Too many people have become dependent on processed food. We come home from a long day of work and the last thing we want to do is slave over a stove while juggling homework with our kids. Providing healthy meals and snacks can be easier than you think. Many food companies are offering better options all the time, but the key is reading and comparing ingredients between products.

A concept to keep in mind is that a living body needs real, living food. Feeding the body a regular diet of highly processed food is going to lead to inflammation within the digestive system, which then stems to other areas of the body.

Processed foods which are those products coming from a bag, box, or can, should at least be comprised primarily of “real food” ingredients close to its original form. The terms used in the ingredients description should be recognizable.

Ingredient labels are typically set up with the “nutrition facts” on the top, and “ingredients” listed on the bottom. Though the nutrition facts are worth looking at and contain important information, the ingredients list is really the key factor in determining whether or not a product is good for you. Note that ingredients are listed in order of weight, so the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last.

If you were to make cookies at home, you would use roughly five ingredients. If you look at some of the cookies, crackers, and cereals in the grocery store (and don’t even get me started on “healthy” granola bars), some items have upwards of 30 ingredients! It is a recipe for disaster since your body does not recognize many of those ingredients (filler, flavors and chemicals) as food, yet many people eat them all day, every day.

For snack items like cookies, muffins, and dips, try to make them yourself and triple the batch so that you have enough extra to freeze for later. A healthy whole grain pumpkin or banana muffin makes a perfect snack to pack in a lunchbox, or can even be eaten for breakfast. The ingredients are far better for you than most of the cereals you will find on a shelf. See my recipe page for some of my favorite recipes. WholesomeStyle.com/healthy-recipes/

If you are not in the habit of reading the ingredients on food packaging, please start today. The next time you head to the grocery store, try to go without the kids and allow extra time to read and compare as many products as possible. A golden rule is to choose the option with the fewest ingredients as that often yields the healthiest choice. Look for real, recognizable ingredients and make this a new habit.

Do not pay any attention to what you see on the front of a package. It is cleverly designed to make you assume it is wholesome and nutritious. You must read the ingredients, and each time you go, it will get easier as you become familiar with certain products.

More food manufacturers are responding to the increased demand for better quality food. There is a beautiful shift happening within the food industry as people truly want to be eating healthier and are essentially voting with their dollars, supporting the companies dedicated to offering better quality products.

To read my full story, visit WholesomeStyle.com/about-me/. For daily tips, healthy recipes, and information, find Wholesome Style on Facebook. Please note, I am not a health and nutrition professional.

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Elena Lynch runs WholesomeStyle.com, a health and wellness website, and also offers food consultation services. She can be reached at wholesomestyle@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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