Trouble losing weight? Intent on keeping unhealthy weight off? A diet high in ultra-processed foods may be part of the problem, according to the results of a study published May 2019.
We Americans like convenience. We tend to be a culture on the go, getting on our grind to pay the bills, to handle biz, to support our families. In the mix of all that activity, when hunger calls it’s easy for us to default to our preferred fast food spot and fill the belly with [insert fave menu item here].
But, dear friends, be careful. Especially because someone out there loves you! This is not a sermon on avoiding processed foods entirely, but a reminder to think well on what you put into your body. What seems harmless now can be harmful in the end, like the proverbial frog being boiled.
It’s an act of loving service to self to discern pleasure from wisdom, and to proactively prevent problems rather than spend resources dealing with problems (but really though–do you love yourself?). A few action items for your consideration:
Recall that plant-based foods have a variety of nutrients, including antioxidants, that protect our systems from disease processes. Recall that highly processed foods are often stripped of much of the macro- and micro-nutrients found in the source product.
Recall there is a spectrum of processing–for example, wheat berries to whole wheat flour to unbleached white flour to bleached white flour. Each stage of processing can strip away nutrients and/or involve some chemical intervention that alters the original structure of the food.
Emphasize whole foods at each meal that includes a strong presence of plant-based foods, saving processed products as an occasional treat (because, let’s face it, the stuff is delicious) rather than your go-to.
Substitute mixed nuts and fresh fruits (assuming you have no allergies) for all or part of your favorite carb-heavy snack.
Cultivate the habit of planning meals out a few days.
Who inspires you with their healthy eating habits and overall lifestyle? Go see what they do.
Forgive yourself when you lapse–without giving in to self-coddling.
Recall the benefits that accrue to supplanting intake of highly-processed foods with unprocessed foods.
Recall the suffering that accrues to continuing in the habit of too much highly-processed foods and not enough whole, unprocessed foods.
If you’ve fucked up, admit that you’ve fucked up. Ask your conscience (the calm inner knowing that is less concerned with societal norms and more concerned with following the natural law) what needs to be done to make it right. And listen to it.
Commit a few minutes each day to holding yourself in the space of loving-kindness directed at yourself, letting the light of the heart awaken in every cell of the body. The natural result of this practice is to avoid that which is harmful
Practice chewing your food mindfully. A 2011 study from China revealed that chewing more resulted in decreased caloric intake.
A few times per week, review what you’ve been eating. Listen to what your conscience is telling you.
If you know that you should change your diet, but stubbornly refuse to, open the mind to the possibility that you have authority issues &/or control issues. Deep subjects here, but worth considering. Generally speaking, uplifting the mind from both of these dynamics involves, among other things, forgiving past wounds.
If you don’t cook regularly, open the mind to learning. Start with easy recipes–most veggies taste delicious with nothing more than garlic, olive oil, lemon, salt, and fresh ground black pepper.
For further reading on the above study, follow the link to this recent NPR article.