How hard is it to eat real food? Very difficult, according to a recent Guardian article highlighting the dangers of ultra-processed foods. In it, food writer Bee Wilson wrote about the enormous presence of these foods in our diets, explained the science linking them with obesity and disease.
I hardly ever eat fast food, I thought, so I must be all right.
Turns out, ultra-processed foods are not just the obvious things like fast food burgers, flavoured crisps, or chocolate bars. According to the article, ultra-processed foods are anything that are so processed it is hard to determine the underlying ingredients. This means things like non-dairy milks and yoghurts, vegan or vegetarian meat substitutes, even apparently innocent foods like bread and soup (if they have a significant amount of fillers, stabilisers and other additives).
This got me thinking. It is pretty easy to have an almond milk latte in the morning, a vegan energy bar in the afternoon, and indulge in a vegan burger at dinner. None of these are “bad foods” but, eaten regularly, they increase our high consumption of ultra-processed foods.
The challenge is, these foods are tasty and convenient. How can we replace them and enjoy a healthy, whole food diet without spending hours in the kitchen? Here are 4 tips to make it easier to eat real food.
Cook what you can
Obviously, not all of us have the time or desire to cook every single day, nor are we all gifted in the kitchen. However, instead of letting our shortcomings hold us back, we should focus on what we can cook — and do so regularly. Soups, stews, jacket potatoes, rice, stir-fries, and salads are all simple, delicious and easy.
Invest in Tupperware
Once you’ve identified the dishes you like and enjoy cooking, make them in bulk. Popping a few servings into the fridge or freezer insures you can eat whole food every day, without having to prepare it from scratch.
Befriend a baker
Fresh bread, made from natural yeasts, without preservatives or additives, is a good staple food. Build a filling breakfast by adding nut butter, avocado or eggs, or make a hearty veggie sandwich with hummus. To keep bread fresh, slice it immediately then freeze, toasting slice by slice what you need.
Snack on fruit and veg
This might sound obvious, but if you want to eat fewer processed foods, you need to eat more whole foods. Fresh fruit and veg are the simplest way to get nutrients as most of them can be eaten raw — so you spend zero time and energy cooking!
Check out my blogs on seasonal foods for tips on what to eat now!