A New Year's Resolution: Not a Diet, BUT Less Processed Food

Two weeks before Christmas I decided to swear off most processed foods. I figured I needed to reduce the amount of refined sugar, salt, and fat that I was consuming. I came up with a simple plan: No food that comes in a box or bottle or made in a factory (with the exception of coffee... for obvious reasons). This would essentially cut out junk food, but also a few staples, such as white rice, bread, pasta, and cheese. In addition, I instituted what I called Vegan 6: Eating Vegan (no animal products whatsoever-- cheese, milk, eggs, gelatin, etc.) six days a week, with one day to eat whatever I pleased.

David "enjoying" a bit of Black Friday shopping. "Oh, how I love shopping!"
The BEFORE picture
I thought this was a good plan.

It wasn't. The plan lasted about 3 hours.

I got off to a good start that morning by drinking my coffee black. I was so proud of myself for not adding milk. However, at work, I attended a graduation party. The table was scattered with candies, including a big bowl of M&Ms. Before I knew it, I'd scooped a handful of the tiny treats and shoved them in my mouth. So much for the processed food ban.

Since then, I've regrouped. I have a new plan.

I'm going to target things one at a time.

I'm going to keep the Vegan 6. That seemed to work. And I'm still drinking my coffee black. This week, I'm going to tackle sweets (wish me luck) by substituting fresh or dried fruit for candy. Once I've shown I can stick to that, I'm going to cut things like bread (unless I make it from whole wheat flour myself... now ain't that a pain in the butt? Guaranteed to reduce intake.)

So why on Earth would anyone cut processed foods?

Processed foods are bad for you in the following ways:
  1. High in refined sugar, such as corn syrup. Processed foods are full of empty calories that add up quickly. More importantly, refined sugar tinkers with your metabolism and causes blood sugar spikes, triglyceride imbalance, insulin resistance, and issues with cholesterol.
  2. Processed foods are NOT lovingly created by chefs, but cunningly designed by Ph.D. chemists with one purpose: short-circuit your body's regulating systems. Food manufacturers want their foods to be irresistible in order for us to buy more. They have no interest in your health, just your cash. They experiment with ways to get us to over-eat, and even develop addictions. They use fat, sugar, and salt-- the magic trifecta for humans to entice us to eat their products. And even though I know I'm being manipulated, I fall for it every time because processed food are just so delicious. 
  3. Artificial chemicals are added, not to make the food healthier, but to manipulate you into eating too much or extend the shelf life of these foods far beyond a natural time frame.
  4. To make foods melt in your mouth, most of the fiber has to be removed. Low fiber allows you to eat more than you should. Fiber is also needed for proper digestive tract functioning. Low fiber diets have been linked to colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Ironically, there are high-fiber products out there in which they artificially add the fiber back in after taking it out.
  5. Low in nutrition. Processed foods are mostly filler, not actual food.
ingredients list from a typical processed food
Ingredients list from typical processed food

We will see how successful I am. It feels oddly seditious to resist the charms of the megalithic food industry. What strange times we live in when eating healthy feels like an act of resistance. Our lives are so controlled that even trying to become the sovereign of your own body is a struggle. Some of you will roll your eyes at me and say, "No one is trying to control you with Cheetos." But I disagree. I have a choice. Unlike Charlton Heston, I don't have to eat the Soylent Green.
(This clip is for those of you under the age of 40 who've never seen this classic film.)

How much do we cede to our corporate overlords? You can blissfully take your Soma and stay in the Matrix (yes, I know, that's a mixed metaphor of pop-cultural references) or you can take small steps. If you want to use your money to support the chemists at Frito-lay, go ahead. If you want to divert those funds to support healthier options, you can do that, too. It's up to you.

Cheers.

Find me on Twitter: @dsborden

Website: www.ScribbleFire.com

#diet #processedfood #vegan #vegetarian #diabetes #heartdisease #healthyeating #health #wholefood #natural



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