With the holidays upon us, we tend to spend a lot more time in the supermarket. And that can mean succumbing to the powerful temptations of Processed Food. Our weakness is not entirely to blame—marketing genius lures us close with shiny, pretty labels and trigger words. While some processed foods can be fairly harmless, others are not so kind. Want to avoid the worst of the worst? Steer clear of these items on your supermarket shelves.
- Processed meats: While a hot dog or bologna might seem like an easy fix for a meal, processed meats are breeding grounds for bacteria. They also contain parts of animals unfit to be sold as-is and can include lips, hooves, and other ohmygodijustatewhat?! ingredients.
- Soda: The ubiquity of soda in our culture may make it seem like it can't be all that harmful, but guess again. From the artificial colors linked with certain types of cancers to the issues with phosphoric acid—and let's not forget all the sugar thanks to the genetically modified corn syrup. Even if you're opting for a diet soda—they're no better. All the artificial sweeteners have been linked with a number of serious health issues such as migraines, behavioral problems, reproductive issues, and cancer. Soda may be everywhere, but make sure it's not in your cart!
- Processed pastries: Twinkies, those little powdery donuts…they are tempting for sure. But they're no good for you, not even a teeny weeny bit! Processed and refined flours and sugars are among the leading causes of diabetes and obesity—epidemics in our country. Those processed junk foods can contain unhealthy trans fats and even quite a bit of excess sodium as well as artificial colors and flavors. They also likely contain all kinds of genetically modified ingredients like canola or soy oil, cornstarch, and preservatives like maltodextrin.
- Frozen meals: While a bag of frozen peas or blueberries are indeed healthy, steer clear of the frozen meals—especially the pizzas, and the diet meals like Lean Cuisine. The heavily processed foods can contain a number of stabilizers, added flavorings and other unhealthy ingredients. Frozen pizzas can contain added oils in the cheese toppings as well as highly processed meats. Most frozen foods are destined for your microwave, too, and that's never a healthy option, depleting nutrients from your food. Make it fresh from scratch instead!
- Ditch the chips: I know. A football game or party just isn't the same without the crunch. But chips can contain high levels of acrylamide, a toxin that's been connected with cancer (it's a by-product of the high-heating process). Try making your own baked chips at home instead, or create raw dehydrated options like super healthy kale chips. And if you're looking for an immediate crunch, pop a carrot or apple into your mouth.
- Margarine: Butter has made quite a comeback in recent years, but many folks still eat margarine. It can also be consumed unknowingly in processed foods and it's no good for you, your arteries, or the planet. The hydrogenated oils are a source of unhealthy trans fats and they most often come from genetically modified oils such as canola, corn, soy, and even cottonseed. GMOs use an excessive amount of pesticides, which are damaging to our planet and our health.