Clean and simple whole foods are the healthiest option for your family. There’s no doubt that packaged products are popular, but when you start digging into what you’re putting in your body and your children’s bodies you’ll begin to realize how imperative it is to eat clean. There are some scary products lurking on shelves disguised as food when in reality they are so chemically altered and full of additives they are nothing like the real thing.
What does ‘eat clean’ mean?
Eating clean means eating foods that are whole foods, with only words you can recognize on the label, and not full of additives, food coloring, or preservatives. It means simple, fresh foods, or foods that aren’t altered. The best places to find clean foods in the grocery store are along the perimeter (think meats, dairy, produce) and in the freezer section where you’ll find fresh food that’s been frozen-not preserved.
How do I find time preparing clean food?
I get it, sometimes we are just too busy to cook a meal. Between school, work, appointments, activities, and household chores and projects it’s surprising modern parents have time to sleep much less cook a healthy meal 3 times a day. The key is to find shortcuts that work for your family. That may mean preparing meals on the weekend to reheat, replacing junk food snacks with fruit and ‘clean’ snacks like nuts or popcorn, and it most definitely means making the right choices when you’re shopping.
How to Shop for Clean Food
Start with Whole Foods– ‘Whole food’ or ‘real food’ are all ways to say food products that are grown and not modified before they go to the market. Think fresh fruits and vegetables, rice, beans, oatmeal, grains-anything that is packaged or displayed without modification. Things like meat, fish, and some dairy products are included because they are processed into a product you can consume (aged, cut, caught, etc.) but not modified in a significant way. (Dairy products like sugar-laden yogurt however are not whole foods.)
Carry a cheat sheet in your wallet or bookmark the ‘bad ingredient list‘ on your phone. Knowing what to look for as you familiarize yourself with label reading is a huge help. One of the easiest ways to know what to buy? If you can’t pronounce it-don’t buy it.
Learn to read labels. To know what you’re eating is the key to health and wellness. Below I’ll show you in photos how to read labels. (if you can’t see the photos, click over to the website)
If you are counting calories or limiting salt, fat, or carbs you can use the Nutrition Facts to help you assess serving size and help track your food intake.
Focusing on the ingredient list you’ll see only ingredients that you’ll know-no chemicals or long words you can’t pronounce. Even with the more ingredient heavy lists on items like the macaroni and cheese you’ll find nothing you can’t pronounce or recognize.
In the photo you’ll see a picture of the egg whites. The egg whites are mixed with whole milk (though it’s likely a tiny amount given the lack of fat), cornstarch (to thicken), sea salt and pepper (for seasoning).
Learn about organics. Learn what you should buy organic and what fruits and vegetables carry the most pesticides. Read my recent post on 10 steps to organic.
Look in the freezer. Not only can you find vegetables and fruit in the freezer section but that’s also where you’ll find Good Food Made Simple. While many frozen foods are full of additives there are increasingly more options in the freezer section that are better than off the shelf packaged products.
Our sponsor, Good Food Made Simple, conducted a survey to learn more about how typical American families eat and shop. Here are a few of the highlights.
2/3s don’t read labels: Only 35% of people surveyed reported that they always look at the ingredients label. This suggests that nearly two-thirds of Americans are unknowingly ingesting additives and preservatives into their bodies that could be harmful.
Parents read labels more often: Over 50% of respondents state that most of the time they are more likely to read an ingredient list if they are buying the food for their children.
More food coloring is being used: Since 1990, the per-capita usage of artificial coloring has increased by about 50 percent.* Even though the evidence linking food coloring to cancer and other issues has been inconclusive – why take the risk?
Food coloring banned in Europe: Artificial coloring (specifically Yellow #5) is currently undergoing testing for links to hyperactivity, anxiety, migraines and cancer. In fact, the color has already been banned in many European Countries.
Good Food Made Simple
Good Food Made Simple launched a campaign to help Americans understand ingredients and make cleaner choices when they shop for groceries.
Good Food Made Simple offers convenient meals made with only clean ingredients you know and understand-never using any processed or artificial ingredients, ever. They sent us some products and coupons to try their frozen meals including their mac and cheese, burritos, and oatmeal. Available at grocery stores nationwide and stores like Target, these are easy to find and affordable options for a quick meal.
Here’s what they have to say about eating clean:
“Potassium Sorbate? Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate? Disodium Dihydrogen Pyrophosphate? Good Food Made Simple – a brand committed to using clean, simple ingredients – believes that if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, or don’t know what it means, you should be highly skeptical of eating it. That’s why today, Good Food Made Simple is launching “Eat Clean, Eat Simple,” a national campaign that helps people take control of what they put in their bodies by educating and inspiring them to read and understand ingredient labels – not just glance at the Nutrition Facts.”
Due to my gluten issues I was unable to sample most of the products (sad, since I love burritos), but I am able to eat the oatmeal and egg patties. I loved having a quick and easy way to eat meals on the go. While we don’t have a microwave at home I was able to use these when we traveled and it was super convenient to have healthy and clean options despite being away from home.
A note about Microwaves:
While the burritos were able to be cooked in a conventional oven (and made an easy meal) it takes about 40 minutes. Some of the other products only have microwave instructions, so I’d recommend these products for families that have and use a microwave regularly, have access to one at work or school, or are traveling and have access to a microwave.
If I could make any product request it would be to create gluten-free options and eventually full meals that include frozen veggies. Like a typical frozen meal-but with their unflinchingly clean standards.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Good Food Made Simple and the Motherhood. All opinions are my own.