No Processed Food Challenge!

No Processed Food Challenge

I have personally started a challenge today, which I am very excited about.  The toughest part of this challenge will be to cut out the processed foods.  Now mind you, I eat pretty good in general, but as of today, I am cutting out anything I would consider negatively processed – including artificial sweeteners.  I challenge you to do the same with me for the next month and to see how you feel at the end.

This challenge is not about losing weight; it is about getting back to the whole, nutrient dense foods that nourish the body and the soul.  It is about feeling better overall and increasing endurance and stamina.  If I happen to lose a few pounds along the way, that would be ok, but the truth is, I am very happy with my weight and body composition.  This really is about eating the way God intended and in a way that will support the crazy hard workouts I do and the fast paced life I lead.

There has been much debate about ‘what is a processed food’.  Technically most of the foods we eat today are processed in some way – often for safety reasons.  What I want to cut completely are the clearly commercially prepared foods designed for ease of consumption and the ones with an excess of chemicals.

According to Wiki, a processed food is a commercially prepared food designed for ease of consumption.  Products designated as convenience foods are often prepared foods that can be sold as hot, ready-to-eat dishes; as room-temperature, shelf-stable products; or as refrigerated or frozen products that require minimal preparation (typically just heating).  These products are often sold in portion controlled, single serve packaging designed for portability. Convenience food can include products such as candy; beverages such as soft drinks, juices and milk; fast food; nuts, fruits and vegetables in a preserved states; processed meats and cheeses; and canned products such as soups and pasta dishes.

While it would be nice to cut out all convince foods, my benchmark will be the ingredient list.  I will still be enjoying my veggies that come frozen, provided the only listed ingredient is actually vegetable.  Same with chicken and fish.  Now, as I said before, I eat very clean for the most part, but I have noticed that from time to time, I am letting things slide into my diet that well, really have no place there.

So, are you up for the challenge?  Still not sure what a processed food might be?  Here are some of the obvious…

Processed foods that are bad for your diet:

•       Canned foods with large amounts of sodium or fat.
•       Pasta meals made with refined white flour instead of whole grains.
•       Packaged high-calorie snack foods such as chips and candies.
•       Frozen dinners that are high in sodium.
•       Packaged cakes and cookies.
•       Boxed meal mixes that are high in fat and sodium.
•       Sugary breakfast cereals.
•       Processed meats.

My biggest beef with the current American diet is sugar.  I feel that the overuse of and wide spread abuse of sugar is a primary reason for the obesity epidemic this nation suffers from – especially our kids!  For me personally, I eat very little sugar.  What I have found myself relying on a bit too heavily on is artificial sweeteners.  I do not actually consider these foods bad – in fact, in many cases, I think they help you stick with an overall healthy eating plan.  That said, for this challenge, I want to see how I feel without them.

While not specifically on the list above, here are some of the things I am cutting out as they contain artificial sweeteners:

•       Diet soda
•       Sugar Free syrup
•       Crystal Light
•       Sugar Free Gum

For the record, I am keeping in my Ultimate Muscle Protein, which has a small amount of sucralose.

Finally, I have cut out caffeine and alcohol all together.  Mind you, I do not drink caffeine for other reasons but I thought you should know that I will be strictly avoiding caffeine.  And even though I am health conscious, I have found myself enjoying a glass of wine a little too frequently.  So alcohol is gone too.

Sounds like a lot at once?  Well, for me, I sat down and really evaluated what I eat each day.  From there I compiled the above criteria to help make a significant impact on my overall eating plan.  Want to join me, but not ready to be this extreme?  No problem!  Make your own list.  Small changes over time can lead to big results and the less processed foods you eat, the better off you will be!  Good luck!




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