Many of us start the year hoping to eat healthier only to revert back to our old ways after a couple of weeks (or days…). Despite our best intentions, life has a habit of getting in the way and maintaining a restrictive diet is time consuming, costly and, well, extremely boring!
But do not despair! There are simpler ways of eating well that don’t involve restriction, abstinence and cold, hard longing.
One easy change is to cut unnecessary sugars, salts and fats from your diet by choosing fresh meals over processed convenience food. Freshly made food not only tastes great, but the ingredients maintain their natural quality, meaning you get more nutrients for your nugget with every bite!
Still not convinced? Here are three reasons to step away from the supermarket ready meal and pick up a fresh cooked lunch instead:
- Processed foods contain excess amounts of sugar, salt and who knows what else!
Processed foods have been created to have a profitable shelf life and, to achieve this, manufacturers pump it with extra salt and sugar to artificially preserve it. This means you are consuming the natural calories of the ingredients PLUS all the additional refined sugar and salt slung on top.
Even short shelf life food like ready meals end up with excess sugar due to artificial flavouring processes. Much of the natural flavour and nutrients is lost during production, so extra sugar and salt have to be added afterwards, causing the calorie content to rocket further.
Worryingly, sugar and salt are just the tip of the iceberg. Pick up any processed food product and there will be reams of illegible text listing artificial ingredients no one’s even heard of, never mind found in their kitchen cupboard!
- Processed foods give us cravings – And crashes
Evolutionally speaking, we’re programmed to crave sweet, fatty and salty foods because of their concentrated energy content. This may have been handy 200 years ago, but isn’t too helpful now sitting at a desk…
Undeterred by this, food manufacturers tap into this craving by creating ‘hyper rewarding’ foods engineered to keep us coming back for more. Regularly consuming these ‘rewarding’ foods can upset natural hunger cycles, causing us to respond to cravings and overconsume.
You’re also likely to encounter energy slumps after consuming high-sugar, high-starch processed foods. Once this fast-release, short-term energy has worn of you will be left feeling sluggish and craving… more sugar!
- Processed foods take less energy to digest
Manufacturers want their food to last, look the same and have a uniform consistency. To achieve this, ingredients are refined through multiple stages, losing much of the natural fibre and making foods easier to chew and shallow.
The consequence of this is that we use much less energy – half the calories! – eating and metabolising processed foods. This not only burns less energy during digestion, but can lead us to feel hungrier sooner after eating.
This list is by no means exhaustive and we could go on and on about the down-sides to eating processed foods – but we don’t want to preach! Besides, what’s better than hearing the facts? Seeing the goods, of course! So, in the spirit of tasty inspiration, why not take a look at some of the delicious home cooked meals our chef Lizzie has been knocking up?
Everything we serve at Taste has been prepared fresh, using locally sourced ingredients, so you know exactly what’s gone into your breakfast or lunch.