Unless we have all been hiding our heads in the sand, we really do know that we should be changing to a healthier diet both for ourselves and our children. But how do you wean your family off processed foods? It is not easy - it takes time and perseverance but it can be done.
The first thing to do is to work out what you can use as a healthy substitute for each your family's favorite processed food dishes. And then there are individual things like sugar, cookies, sodas and more. They all have to go!
But don't do it all at once – there is no point in going completely “cold turkey”
You can reckon on it taking up to a year to achieve your goal. But as you eliminate processed foods, you will also find it gets easier and you will also be eliminating sugars and artificial flavors and colorings at the same time.
- Part of the weaning process is to encourage your family to really enjoy what is on their place. Try to sit down at the table as a family for the meal with no rushing off to do something else before everyone has finished. Make sure there is a large jug of pure water with some slices of fresh fruit in, such as lemon or orange, to encourage a taste for drinking water too.
- Learn to enjoy the genuine flavor of real food. With processed foods: fats and sugars and salts are all added to help mask the metallic taste of those chemical additives. You have to agree that that is a very good reason to wean you off!
- Learn to read labels wisely. Yes I know it is a chore but you will get quicker at it and you will learn a lot on behalf of your family. The safest and easiest of all is buy food with no labels! Fresh fruit and vegetables for example.
- It will not happen overnight but you have to give your palate and that of your family time to change so that you gradually lose your taste for those very sweet or very salty foods.
- Breakfast is a good meal to start changing the family's habits. Eggs make an excellent choice – they are right back in fashion again and now considered to be a superfood. Free range of course and so many different ways to serve them. You can even whip a raw egg up in a smoothie for an easy energy meal. I always eat a good breakfast. A cup of black tea with a slice of lemon, followed by either a lightly boiled egg and slice or two of gluten free buttered toast and a glass of 100% pure fruit juice or it could be a bowl of home made muesli with raw oats, dried fruit, fresh fruit like blueberries, raw nuts and a mixture of seeds with yogurt or milk and some raw honey and cinnamon. Endless combinations are possible. The important thing is to avoid sugary, colorful commercial breakfast cereals.
- Other ideas are to replace artificial flavors with real ones such as extracts, essential oils and pressed oils. For example you can use vanilla extract, peppermint essential oil and orange oil or you can sprinkle a few organic lavender buds on food for a fun flavor and appearance instead of the ordinary every day and less than healthy “sprinkles”. Another natural flavor idea is to use baking soda with a few drops of organic essential oil.
- As a change from fresh fruits, dried fruits are a fun and quick dessert or snack, and they keep for a long time, too. But too much dried fruit and the sugar levels can rise.
- Another snack is crunchy raw nuts such as walnuts, almonds and cashews. All raw nuts have good things to offer you.
- Once you have the breakfasts sorted, then work on the next meal to go unprocessed such as suppertime.
- Remember to go for high quality foods with the least amount of processed ingredients. The perimeter aisles of the supermarket usually have the fresh produce or get to know your local farmers market. Something to remember when shopping, and if in doubt whether to buy something, is to ask yourself if your great grandmother would recognize it. If she would not, then the chances are (unless it is some exotic fruit from distant shores) that you should put it back on the shelf!
Tips to bear in mind to wean your family off processed foods and when you are checking out foods to buy
1. Food should be grown without pesticides nor chemical fertilizers.
2. Food should not be genetically modified (that is non GMO).
3. Food should not contain any added growth hormones, antibiotics or other drugs.
4. Food should not contain anything artificial nor preservatives.
5. Food should be fresh looking with no wilting leaves or squashy, bruised fruit.
6. Food should not come from a factory farm and in the case of animals and poultry, they should have free range to the outdoors and be fed their natural native diets.
7. Food should be grown with sustainable, natural and organic methods.
If you prepare your meals by following these 7 tips, you will be making major and delicious strides for your family’s health. So take outs and restaurants are off the map for the time being – it is home cooking all the way!