Guide To Eating Natural Foods

How To Eat Yourself Healthy
How Much Do You Know About What You Eat? Food Labelling Can Help, Especially When It Comes To Eating Natural, Fresh, Unprocessed Foods.
You Are What You Eat – a phrase formed around the idea that to be fit and healthy, you need to eat good food. The site suggests the very earliest record of this phrase being used dates back to 1826. How many people over the years cared about what they ate, or even understood the processes involved in bringing the food to their plates? Well they care now, a recent trend report found that people are much more tuned into food and beverage labels, and look for identifiable text that points to green credentials, locally or ethically sourced produce, and how ‘processed’ the item is.

Are you someone that scans ingredient labels for hidden ‘nasty’s’ or products to avoid, or do you look for the natural, raw, whole food or organic tags? Let’s delve into what all this means.

Clean Eating

Every diet or fad has its own name or label, and clean eating is no different. But this isn’t just the latest celebrity diet, it’s not about eating less or more, it’s about eating clean. This means lots of natural and unprocessed foods and avoiding as much as you can processed and refined products.

Refined foods tip the balance in favour of calories over the amount of nutrients they provide. Items may be refined to improve the taste and texture, but this process removes important parts of the food, such as fibre and minerals, not all of which is added back to enrich the end product.

Refined Foods: Normal fizzy drinks and soda, cookies, cakes, syrups, table sugar, dairy desserts can all have refine sugars in them. There’s also refined grains to consider which can be found in corn bread, pretzels, noodles and cous cous. Check your food labels for refined carbs such as sucrose, nectar, dextrose, corn syrup, maltose, and high fructose corn syrup, all names of refined sugar. You may also find added/refined sugar in unexpected products, such as pasta sauces, some frozen meals or canned vegetables.

Processed Foods: Many people see these as ready meals, microwave items, and convenience products, but the term can be applied to anything that has been altered from its natural form. They may not always be unhealthy, but they can contain added fat, salt, and sugar. Sometimes food has to be processed to make it safe or suitable to consume, like pasteurised milk or pressing seeds to make oil, and it can prolong shelf life, but watch out for those additives and calories.

Food Labelling

How far you go along the clean eating journey is up to you, but if you do want to eat clean, choose the right foods, and plan your diet to ensure you have the right nutrients and minerals, then food labelling can play an important role as you shop.

Buying fresh, natural and unprocessed ‘whole foods’ can be easy in some cases, we’re talking here about fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, unsalted nuts and seeds, low fat dairy and grass-fed and free range meats, but with other products you will need to check the labels so you know exactly what you are getting.

This handy NHS guide on food labelling runs through how food labels can help you have a more balanced diet, explains the standard food labels and what to look out for, along with high and low levels of fats, sugars etc. and how to understand the colour coding and ingredients list.

Eating fresh unprocessed foods should be a habit and a lifestyle choice, but buying smart should be as well. That jar of pasta sauce may look tempting, but there is far more value in a tin of tomatoes that can easily be turned into a home cooked tasty dinner.