Life seems to be busier than ever and it seems we have less time to dedicate in the kitchen than in years past. It's no wonder women resort to picking up boxed packaged items, and foods in the freezer section.
I'm a firm believer in balance. Nutrition shouldn't be viewed as all or nothing. It's all about giving yourself grace.
Do what you can with the knowledge, information, budget and time you have.
While I do cook mostly from scratch there are a few things I purchase prepackaged. However, there are KEY things I look for before buying a processed food; and there are certain factors I won't compromise on.
In order to manage acne it is best done from the inside out. Focus on nutrition to bring your skin to an improved state of health. Examine all facets of your diet.
Let me share with you some key things to look for in any packaged food you buy.
- INGREDIENTS: This is an instance where less is more. The fewer the non-food ingredients (such as stabilizers), typically the better the food is for your body.
- WORDS: This one is simple. If you read the ingredient label and you don't recognize half the words, or it sounds like something you'd be reading in chemistry class, look for an alternative.
- SUGAR: It's important to avoid excess sugar, especially refined sugars. Here's where it can be a bit tricky. One of my favorite packaged foods Larabar ® - has a sugar content of around 16 grams per bar. However, the ingredient list is short and it's all REAL foods. The sugar content comes from whole foods not highly processed, refined sugar. Also, they contain some dietary fiber and protein which brings me to the next item.
- PROTEIN and FIBER: Look for items that are high in protein and high in fiber. These foods will help slow the release of sugars into your bloodstream and will help keep you fuller, longer.
- MSG (monosodium glutamate) and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup): Honestly, I could write an entire paper on why these two should be avoided but for now let me keep it simple. MSG is used as a flavor enhancer but it's linked to respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardio vascular, circulatory, muscular, visual and urological conditions. Should I say more? As for HFCS - this is a sneaky little devil. HFCS is a highly processed sweetener that (studies indicate) interferes with your body's natural ability to recognize when you are full. It may, in fact, "tell" your brain, "You're not full. Keep eating." If true, there is little wonder why it would be added to processed foods.
- OIL: Cheap, highly refined oils to avoid include corn, cottonseed, palm kernel, partially hydrogenated, safflower, sunflower and soybean. It can be really tough to find products that don't contain those oils. Most processed foods use cheaper vegetable oils for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately they do nothing for the beauty of our skin (or our insides). These oils are found in obvious places like potato chips but they also hide in sneaky places like jarred sauces and salad dressings. Instead look for oils and products containing oils made from coconut, flax, olive, avocado and nuts.
- NON-GMO: Genetically modified organisms (GMO) have altered DNA, changed by genetic engineering. 75% of all United States processed foods contain a genetically modified ingredient. The concern is genetic engineering hasn't been around long enough for us to know its long term effects. Dr. Sear's motto is "When in doubt, leave it out". I have adopted this attitude as well.
- ORGANIC: This last one I don't adhere to 100% of the time because organic isn't always an available option. If it is available, I typically choose organic over conventional. Organic foods eliminate your consumption of pesticides and herbicides, which is a plus.
- Note food labeled organic are also non-gmo. However, any food labeled non-gmo doesn't necessarily mean it's organic
Become a label reader. Take the extra 15 seconds needed to read the ingredient list on every packaged food you buy. I even periodically re-check the labels of foods I buy. Sometimes manufacturers change ingredients, or start using GMO's where they had not previously.
Know what you're putting into your body! For beautiful, clear skin avoid too many processed foods.