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How to Ditch Processed Foods and Franchise Burgers

By Sandy Schroeder

Want to feel better, look better, and be healthier? The answer may be as simple, and hard-to-do, as cutting back on franchise burgers and fries, and avoiding heavily processed foods at the supermarket.

Heavily processed snacks, sauces, and prepared meals come loaded with sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, artificial flavors, colors and additives that can undermine health. Researchers have linked foods such as chips, cookies, pastries, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, sauces, sodas, frozen meals and dressings to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and some fatty liver disease. They say these heavily loaded foods make up at least 60 percent of our calories.

How to Gain the Upper Hand

If you start slowly, you can reduce your taste for sugar and salt as you buy more fresh produce and try new recipes that use other spices and seasonings and cooking methods. Sweeping everything away at once can sabotage your best efforts, but gradual changes may help you win the battle.

Think fresh – Add fresh fruit or vegetables to every meal. Add apple slices to breakfast, fresh salads at lunch and dinner, and more fruits and vegetables at dinner to gradually replace sodas, sausage, pizzas, and fried foods. Start with your family’s favorites and look for new recipes in Epicurious.com for black bean or fish tacos, potato leek soup, sweet potato pie or homemade chicken pot pies.

Ditch the sodas – Erase huge amounts of sugar from your diet as you substitute sparkling water, pure juices or green teas.

Hide the salt shaker – When cooking, try garlic powder, black or red pepper, basil, oregano and wine vinegars for added flavor.

Choose whole grains – Whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and whole-grain bread add fiber and nutrients.

Cut back on hot dogs and bacon – All of the processed meats, including sausage and ham, have been tied to a higher risk of colorectal cancer.

Make good choices – Nuts or popcorn instead of chips, Greek yogurts and hummus instead of heavy dips, and homemade olive oil and wine vinegar salad dressings in place of high-calorie dressings all work. Made-from-scratch low fat veggie quiches, turkey burgers or turkey chili, and breast of chicken or grilled salmon dinners can easily become family favorites.

Update comfort foods – Spend a little time looking for low-fat, low-salt versions of your family’s favorite comfort foods such as meatloaf, macaroni and cheese or lasagna. Recipes such as oatmeal cookies or fruit tarts and banana or pumpkin loaves can be done with less fats and sugars.

Whatever you do to help your family break out of the franchise/processed foods cycle is sure to be a health boost for everyone. It may gradually become easier too, as you find more recipes and create new family favorites.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Windermere, Fla.

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