Written by Jill Ettinger
Another year has come and gone. And you know what that means—none of us are getting any younger! But we can get healthier. So here are three processed foods should leave behind… for good. Your body will thank you.
1. Salad dressing
If you’re still pouring bottled salad dressing over your daily greens, now is the time to stop! Not only are most bottled salad dressing loaded with fillers and binders (and even corn syrup and sugar), but they are ridiculously expensive, especially compared to what you can whip up at home in just a few seconds (not to mention all that glass and plastic for just one little bottle!).
Make your own vinaigrette with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a few big glugs of EVOO, and a few splashes of balsamic. And then start experimenting with creamy tahini or miso paste and fresh herbs for an endless well of salad dressing recipe ideas.
2. Frozen pizza
You can’t throw a piece of pepperoni in this country without hitting a pizza shop. Yet our obsession with frozen pizzas shows no signs of slowing down. We’ve all been there—hungry, exhausted, and too lazy to do much about it. So we dig into the freezer and stare at the gorgeous picture on the front of the box thinking “this is the one”—in hopes that we finally uncover a frozen pizza that actually tastes better than the cardboard it came in. Except deep down inside, we all know it doesn’t exist. Worse than that, frozen pizzas can contain excessively high amounts of sodium–and even sugar!—as well as myriad processed ingredients of questionable origin from the meats and cheeses to preservatives, artificial flavors, and colors. Now, I’m certainly not saying picking up the phone and calling Pizza Hut is any better—in many ways, it’s worse.
There really are only two solutions here: learn to make your own pizza from scratch, with fresh, whole ingredients (it really isn’t that hard). Or, consider giving pizza up all together. Since no one in their right mind would do the latter, you do have one other possible option: scour your town for an authentic, made-from-scratch joint. They do exist, some even use organic ingredients. But learning how to make your own (hey, you can even freeze them!) is really the only way to go.
3. Processed Meats
And this brings us to the last processed food to give up for good in 2016: processed meats. If you haven’t yet seen this news, the World Health Organization says it now considers processed meats—bacon, sausage, pepperoni, deli slices, etc—to be carcinogenic. It was enough of a warning for California to look at listing meats under Prop 65, which requires brands to clearly label any cancer-causing products as a health hazard.
There are scores of other reasons for ditching meat as well—it’s a leading cause of foodborne illnesses, it can lead to antibiotic resistance, and livestock animals are fed steady diets of genetically modified ingredients, too. That’s not even touching on the rampant animal (and human) cruelty issues in the meat, dairy, and fish industries, as well as the environmental impact raising billions of animals each year has on the planet. If ditching meat “cold turkey” is not an option, consider adopting Meatless Monday, or Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before 6 pm program. Or just reduce the size of the meat on your plate.
What processed foods are you committed to ditching and why?