Your doctor, your gym instructor, and even your best friend are telling you to wean off processed food but the idea is just too intimidating. How can you cut out all that tasty junk food and switch to boring salads overnight?
Won’t you feel deprived and envious of everyone else still happily washing down a bucket of French fries with a gallon of diet soda? Not if you do it right.
Quitting junk food “cold turkey” isn’t the best option.
Wean off processed food gradually in one month with this easy-to-follow step-by-step process:
1. Week One – Start Reading Food Labels
Becoming aware of the synthetic chemicals in the food you eat everyday is your first step to successfully weaning off processed food. For the first week, start reading food labels. When you go to the grocery store or visit the vending machine, skip past the fat and calorie count and go straight to the list of ingredients clumped together on the side or back of the package.
When you start examining these labels, you will see ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, MSG, food dyes, and more. You may even find it difficult to pronounce some of them. You’ll realize, as you read more and more packages, that there’s hardly any ‘food’ in the food you’re eating at all.
If you find an ingredient you don’t recognize, do some research on it. This may help you to understand why you’ve had trouble losing weight and/or are experiencing difficult-to-diagnose health problems.
2. Week Two – Make Healthy Substitutions
By now, you’ve learned a little bit about processed food and the potentially harmful synthetic chemicals they contain. Now is the time to make healthy substitutions.
Visit the organic and natural section of your favorite grocery store and check out the snack foods, candy, and pre-packaged meals there. These foods are still processed but they contain far less “junk” and a lot more nutrition.
This step can help you wean off processed food by providing familiar tastes and textures so your palate is better able to make the transition to a healthier diet.
3. Week Three – Visit a Farmer’s Market
At week three, it will be time to visit your local farmer’s market. When you move away from the mindset that food is only available at the grocery store, a whole new world of healthy possibilities opens up. If you’ve never shopped at a farmer’s market before, the idea may be a bit confusing.
I encourage you to visit Local Harvest.org to find a farm in your area. This website offers contact names, store hours, and information on products sold so you can get more comfortable with choosing fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, and meat for your family.
The more connected you are to where real food comes from, the more automatic your healthy food choices will become.
4. Week Four – Plan Your Meals
When you’re hungry, it can be very easy to just grab whatever looks appealing at the moment and put it in your cart. One of the best ways to wean off junk food is to go to the store with a list of ingredients you will need for a week of planned meals.
Creating healthy, nourishing meals doesn’t have to mean spending hours slaving over a hot oven. Fresh salads, greens, grass-fed beef, poultry, and fish can all be prepared quickly depending on the recipe you use.
100DaysofRealFood.com offers hundreds of excellent real food recipes you can pick and choose from that will make healthy meal planning a breeze.
Weaning off processed food and slowly introducing your body to the nutritious, wholesome foods it craves doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Go slowly, do your research, and forgive yourself when you “cheat.”
This isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change, and once you put it into motion, the health benefits you’ll reap will far outweigh the temporary pleasure you once felt eating a fast-food burger.
About the Author:
Dr. Maxwell is an osteopathic physician who is board certified in integrative medicine, family medicine and osteopathic medicine. For more information and a private natural health consultation, visit AskDrMaxwell.com.