Real Food vs Processed Food

As a little girl, I was blessed to have a stay-at-home mom who made yummy dinners. I don’t recall going out to eat but when we did it was a special treat. My favorite occasion would be when we would pull out the tv trays from the closet. The trays were metal with a brown base filled with yellow, orange, and white flowers and they meant one thing…we were eating in front of the tv that night. You didn’t just eat any food on these trays in front of the tv, you had a delicious tv dinner. These delightful meals came in a metal container that would burn your hand if you got too excited to eat. The one I loved had three separate food locations. The main one was filled with beans and franks and the two sides were cooked apple slices and a chocolate cake…heaven!

I’m not sure what is the most interesting part of this memory. The fact that it was a treat to eat in front of the tv, why we needed trays in the first place (holding my plate up to my face with my hands work just fine now), or that I loved a tv dinner over something homemade that my mom would cook.

As a mom, I totally get the need for tv dinners. When my kids were little I’m pretty sure they grew up on fast food. What was a rare occasion for me as a child became the norm for my kids. It was cheap, it was quick, and it was convenient. I wish I could have been the mom that made homemade meals but between working, taking kids to practices or other events, homework, housework, and life, it just didn’t happen very often. I wish I knew then what I know now about the importance of food and nutrition.

Processing foods dates back to prehistoric times. It was a way to save your food for later use. You could preserve it by salting, sun drying, smoking, or steaming it. In the 1920s ready-to-cook foods were becoming more available. World War 1 brought about new methods of processing food which included canned and frozen foods. Processed food ads promised to save time for housewives. By the 1950s fast-food restaurants were everywhere and processed foods were mass distributed. This was the birth of tv dinners.

Eventually, we went from a place of trying to preserve our homemade crops to chemically processing our food so it will last longer on our shelves. Ultra-processed foods go through multiple processes and include many added ingredients that are not good for your health. The majority of your prepackaged foods at the store have been ultra-processed and include cereal, chips, candy, cookies, bread, hot dogs, frozen food, etc. The more of this we eat, the higher the chance health problems will occur.

Eating a nutritious diet is so important for our health. Good nutrition gives your body all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to function properly. It can help reduce the risk of disease, maintains your immune system, helps your brain to function well, gives you energy, and delays the effects of aging.  Nutritious foods are considered whole, real, unprocessed foods. Examples would be fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, whole grains, nuts, etc.

A lot of us know that fruits and vegetables are good for us but we don’t put a whole lot of thought into what we are putting into our bodies. We like something to taste good and a lot of times we need it to be fast and convenient. We are too busy to think about the quality of our food…we just want to know what is for dinner.

Now that my eyes have been opened to the importance of nutritious foods, I want to give you some ideas on how you can incorporate them into your lifestyle as well.

  1. Understand how to read a food label: Most whole foods will not even have a nutrition label (for example, fruit, vegetables, and meat). If you are going to purchase something packaged, it is important to read the nutrition label. The key item to look at is the list of ingredients. This list should only include words that you understand and a general rule is it should have no more than 5 ingredients. The ingredients will help you determine if it is healthy or not.
  2. Plan a menu for the week: Without planning, you are more likely to grab something that is unhealthy. If you are driving home from work, tired, hungry, and have no idea what you want to cook for dinner, you are more likely to stop and grab some fast food out of convenience. If you sit down every week and plan out your meals, you take the guessing out of what you will be eating.
  3. Make a grocery list: As you are planning your menu for the week you can make your grocery list. Make sure to include all meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. By making a list you are less likely to walk aimlessly around the store and just throw anything that looks tasty into your cart.
  4. Shop the parameter of the store: When you go shopping, remember that the healthy food items are usually around the parameter of the store. You will have the produce section, bakery, meat department, and dairy. The middle aisles contain mostly processed foods that you will need to be careful of. The frozen section has both so just make sure you are reading those labels.
  5. Meal Prep: When you are super busy, the thought of cooking meals every day can be overwhelming. By spending one day a week meal prepping you will be setting yourself up for success. You can cook meals ahead of time and freeze them. You can cut up fruits and veggies as snacks for the week so they are easy to grab. Get some reusable containers to pack your lunches for the week. Take advantage of kitchen essentials like your crockpot, Instapot, or air fryer.

Once you start feeding your body nutritious foods you should begin to see a difference in your overall well-being. It might take a little while for your tastebuds to change, but fresh food tastes so much better than packaged. You will begin to crave it!


1: Modern Pioneer Mom, 2012

7 thoughts on “Real Food vs Processed Food

  1. I have great memories of those TV dinners!!!😊 It’s really hard to get off processed food, thank you for the tips to try and get away from them and eat more healthy!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great topic! While I truly enjoy working out and trying to be in good physical shape. I really struggle with eating what is right to fuel and feed my body. To look good on the outside yet be toxic, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or a BMI of obesity😮 is no ones true goal.
    Thank you once again for sharing such a great blog and wonderful insight!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have the jealousies!!!
    I had friends that had those awesome trays and spoke of those amazing dinners.

    I do vaguely remember getting a butter tortilla and being able to sit on my blanket while watching a movie. Which was such a treat!

    Liked by 1 person

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