Five ways to reduce your intake of ultra-processed foods for a healthier lifestyle

Today, hustle culture has taken over our eating habits. After a long day at work, we don't want to spend more time controlling what we eat. This is where ready-to-eat ultra-processed foods come into play. Not only are they ready in minutes, but they are also a great way to escape the hassle of cooking. However, they are affecting your health faster than you would expect. Ultra-processed foods are often high in unhealthy fats, sugars, and additives and low in beneficial nutrients for your body. This could also lead to various diseases related to heart health, weight, and general well-being. If you want to avoid the long-term effects of ultra-processed foods, we've compiled a list of 5 tips to help you do just that.
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Reading labels and ingredients is important to managing your diet.

Reading labels and ingredients is important to managing your diet.
Photo credit: iStock

Here are five ways to reduce your intake of ultra-processed foods:

1. Read ingredients and labels

To control your consumption of ultra-processed foods, develop the habit of reading food labels and ingredients before purchasing food. Look for products that have minimal ingredients to avoid consuming additives, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors. To understand what is harmful to your health, start reading about what is good for your body and what is not. Be wary of terms like “high fructose corn syrup,” “hydrogenated oils,” and “artificial sweeteners,” as they indicate highly processed ingredients.

2. Choose whole foods

Try to consume whole, minimally processed foods as much as you can. While shopping, fill your cart with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lean proteins, legumes and seeds. These foods are packed with nutrients and essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that can promote overall well-being. Plus, whole foods are easier on the wallet than ultra-processed foods!

3. Cook at home

Remember when we were little and our parents would say “There's food at home” every time we wanted to eat. Fast food? Well, they weren't wrong. You can reduce your intake of ultra-processed foods by cooking at home. Take charge of your meals and cook at home frequently. When you prepare food at home, you can modify the ingredients and cooking methods according to your preferences. Experiment with recipes and preparation techniques to make cooking and eating more convenient.

Cooking at home can help you control your diet.

Cooking at home can help you control your diet.
Photo credit: iStock

4. Limit ready-to-eat foods

Just because you can prepare ready-to-eat meals at home doesn't mean they're healthy. Reduce your dependence on frozen meals, packaged snacks and fast food. While they seem convenient, ready-to-eat foods are full of preservatives, sodium, and hidden sugars. If you're short on time, plan and prepare meals in advance.

5. Control the drinks

Pay attention to what you drink and look for hydrating options such as water, infusions, juices, etc., instead of sugary drinks and drinks with artificial flavors. Many manufactured drinks on the market are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients that can affect your weight and overall diet.

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