Processed food

All the evidence for living a full and active life with a minimum of ill health means eating a plant-based, wholegrain, sugar-free diet. The addition of occasional oily fish may not be harmful. Animal products (meat, white fish, eggs and dairy) are consistently shown to be harmful, as are processed grains, processed fat and sugar.

To maximise your health, especially if you are at risk from cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease follow the guidelines below:

Basically, avoid processed food. Make your own food from scratch 90% of the time. Do not include packet sauces, dressings, pre-cooked food etc.

Some packets such as spice paste can be OK. Check the back of the packet and if you can buy all the ingredients yourself and there are no ‘additives’, then it should be fine.

Most processed food contains inflammatory products such as gluten, dairy, sugar or processed oil.

If you eat café/restaurant food choose fresh, home-cooked dishes with minimal grain-based carbohydrate and do not eat dessert unless it is your own birthday! Look for the highest fibre dish available. This is usually the best choice.

Ask the café to remove the least nutritious portion of the meal (usually the bread!) and replace with something better – such as side of beans, hummus or spinach.

Only eat take-away once per fortnight or less. Choose falafel kebabs, pitas, sushi or fish and chips (if you eat fish) first, then Indian, Chinese, Thai, then burgers, fried chicken etc. Sometimes there are healthier options at less healthy take-aways, choose them if you can!

Fish and chips is considered healthier because it is fresh, the fish is relatively good for you and the chips are usually thick cut. It is not a healthy meal, just healthier than many other take-aways. Consider ordering a small portion of chips and taking some of the batter off the fish.

If you do choose to eat take away food – eat it with great enjoyment. Do not feel guilty, just plan to eat it less often in future.


Photo courtesy of Dawn Beck

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