Tips to reduce ultra-processed foods in your diet

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    Who minds quick and ready to heat and eat meals? But for healthy eating, you must know how to reduce ultra processed foods from your diet.

    In today’s busy lives, we all want things to happen at a faster pace. We want to reach the office early, get back home early, and even want our food cooked early. The market today is flooded with packaged, ready-to-eat and ultra-processed foods. So, eating processed food isn’t just limited to eating food outside, but we have also incorporated bad eating habits into our day-to-day lives. This can have a negative effect on our health. So, if you are looking to reduce ultra-processed foods in your diet, read on.

    Health Shots got in touch with nutritionist Avni Kaul to understand how to reduce ultra-processed foods in your diet.

    What are ultra-processed foods?

    Ultra-processed foods are those products that have undergone extensive industrial processing, mostly having additives, preservatives, sweeteners, flavourings, emulsifiers, and other substances. These foods generally bear little resemblance to their original ingredients and mostly include ready-to-eat snacks, sugary drinks, packaged baked goods, and some convenience foods, nutritionist Avni Kaul tells Healthshots.

    Easy tips to reduce ultra-processed foods in your diet. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

    Why are ultra-processed foods harmful?

    Ultra-processed foods are harmful for multiple reasons. They mostly contain high levels of added sugars, unhealthy fats, and salt, contributing to extra-calorie consumption and poor nutritional quality. The consumption of these foods has been associated with an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

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    How to reduce ultra-processed foods in diet?

    Some of the ways to reduce ultra-processed foods in your diet, as per the expert are:

    1. Prioritise whole foods

    Choose fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and unprocessed foods. Anything that comes directly from nature is healthy for our body and is the only ideal food that’s meant for consumption.

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    2. Read labels

    Make it a point to study the labels of the foods you pick from the aisle. The ingredient list is written in the form so that the ingredient that is most present in the product is written first and so on. “Check ingredient lists and refrain from products with a long list of additives, preservatives, and artificial ingredients,” suggests the expert.

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    3. Cook at home

    We all love our cheat meal days when we want to order something from outside. But remember that the guilt and the price (against health) of indulging in unhealthy foods is more than having self-control. “Prepare meals from scratch using whole ingredients to have better control over what goes into your food,” adds Avni Kaul.

    Also read: Consuming ultra-processed foods can spike depression risk, says a study

    tips to reduce ultra processed foods in your diet
    Eating ultra-processed foods can increase your risk of developing cancer. Image courtesy: Adobe Stiock

    4. Convenience foods

    Self-control is hard, no question. However, honour your health and body enough to minimise the use of pre-packaged snacks, ready-to-eat meals, and fast food.

    5. Go for nutrient-dense snacks

    Go for whole foods such as nuts, fruits, and vegetables instead of heavily processed snacks.

    6. Stay hydrated with water

    Reduce sugary drinks and opt for water, herbal teas, or other low-calorie beverages. Having ample fluids or water in your everyday life flushes out toxins from your body.

    Also read: Eating ultra-processed food could give you a bowel disorder, finds study

    7. Plan your meals

    Plan your meals and snacks well in advance to lower the urge to grab convenient but processed options.

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