News and processed food

With the recent events concerning a certain chicken joint, I’ve been thinking more and more about fast food. Actually, this isn’t the only reason I’ve been thinking about it – my daughter loves McDonald’s chicken nuggets, so processed food is on my mind quite a bit.

Growing up, I ate a lot of processed food. Given how busy Americans have become over the years with both parents working, a huge market has been generated for quick and easy meals – not just fast food, but boxed food. I remember that many times my childhood dinners consisted of either frozen pizzas or TV dinners. What I didn’t question at that time was all of the chemicals and preservatives that were needed to ensure the food lasted a long time before being consumed. This added to the convenience of keeping food on hand and having it to prepare for dinner when you just got home from an 8+ hour work day and didn’t feel like making homemade mashed potatoes.

As I’ve gotten older I realize that many of my health and weight problems have stemmed from the pure unhealthiness of this food. I’m not talking about eating things like this every once in a while. I’m talking about eating this type of food for every meal.

Now that I have a daughter of my own, I have taken more of an interest in the health of the food that we eat. This awareness has made me reflect on my own eating habits throughout my life. After 30+ years of eating processed food for practically every meal, I’m overweight, regularly sick, taking medicine daily to control my blood pressure and am looking at a future with possibly developing Type 2 diabetes (many members of my family already have it). Don’t get me wrong. I do, in part, embrace the fact that many of these things – including weight – have genetic elements. I fully believe that I have a genetic predisposition to being overweight and having high blood pressure. The fact that I am overweight and have high blood pressure is magnified by my eating habits.

Well, no more. Three months ago I did a juice cleanse and went off processed food, including store-bought breads and anything made with gluten (it’s related to the word glue for a reason – ick!). I feel better, am rarely feel sick, don’t have headaches and as a side affect, I’ve lost over 30 pounds. Yes, I’m still on blood pressure medication and I might be for the rest of my life – but the changes I’m making now significantly improve my chances of avoiding the diabetes hurdle.

What’s more important is that I’m now teaching my daughter about making healthy food choices. One of the scariest day-dreams I have ever had was seeing her at my age with the same problems. Now, regardless of how tired I am we prepare meals instead of throwing something into the microwave. An added bonus to avoiding processed food is that I actually have more energy so I’m less likely to feel too tired to fix a dinner that is made with fresh ingredients and with minimal added chemicals or preservatives (the hormones that are given to some animals on the market is a whole other post).

It’s a win-win.

She still loves chicken nuggets and being a working mom, I still like the idea of being able to rest when I get home. We can both have that on occasion, but we’re both learning to be more healthy. It’s not easy – especially in the modern world. I empathize with anyone who tries it. But the results are definitely worth it.

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