14 Steps to Cut Out Processed Food

Flickr-salad-SweetOnVegLisa Leake, Guest
Waking Times

We took our own pledge for 100 days in part to convince others that they could follow our same “real food” rules for only 10 days. We realize not everyone is keen on the idea of going “cold turkey” with the 10 Days of Real Food pledge though, which is why we also developed 14 weeks of mini-pledges. If taking baby steps is more your speed then check out the weekly “real food” challenges detailed below.

Earlier this year we finished up these mini-pledges with our readers as a group, but just because we’re no longer taking these pledges together doesn’t mean people can’t do them on their own. If you’re interested in giving it a shot you could start at the beginning or go in your own preferred order. You could also build each week on top of the next or simply tackle one weekly challenge at a time. Our hope is if you take these mini-pledges (or the 10-day pledge) that you’ll gain a new perspective from the experience and make at least some positive long-term changes as a result. No matter what though…these pledges will get you to start reading ingredient labels (if you don’t already)!

14 Weeks of “Real Food” Mini-Pledges

  • Week 1: Two fruits and/or vegetables per meal – Eat a minimum of two different fruits or vegetables (preferably organic) with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal.

  • Week 2: “Real” beverages – Beverages will be limited to coffee, tea, water, and milk (only naturally sweetened with a little honey or 100% pure maple syrup). One cup of juice will be allowed throughout the week, and wine (preferably red) will be allowed in moderation (an average of one drink per day).

  • Week 3: Meat – All meat consumed this week will be locally raised (within 100-miles of your hometown). Meat consumption will also be limited to 3 – 4 servings this week, and when it is eaten meat will not be presented as the “focal point” of the meal. Instead meat will be treated as a side item or simply used to help flavor a dish.

  • Week 4: No fast food or deep-fried foods – No fast food or any foods that have been deep-fried in oil.

  • Week 5: Try two new whole foods – Try a minimum of two new whole foods that you’ve never had before.

  • Week 6: No low-fat, lite or nonfat food products – Do not eat any food products that are labeled as “low-fat,” “lite,” “light,” “reduced fat,” or “nonfat.”

  • Week 7: 100% Whole grain – All grains consumed must be 100% whole-grain.

  • Week 8: Stop eating when you feel full – Listen to your internal cues and stop eating when you feel full.

  • Week 9: No refined sweeteners – No refined or artificial sweeteners including (but not limited to): white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice. Foods and beverages can only be sweetened with a moderate amount of honey or maple syrup.

  • Week 10: No refined oils – No refined or hydrogenated oils including (but not limited to): vegetable oil, organic vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, organic canola oil, margarine, and grape seed oil.

  • Week 11: Eat local foods – Eat at least 1 locally grown or raised food at each meal. This includes, but is not limited to: fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains, nuts, meats, and sweeteners like honey.

  • Week 12: No sweeteners – Avoid all added sweeteners including, but not limited to: white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, date sugar, maple sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice.

  • Week 13: Nothing artificial – Avoid all artificial ingredients including, but not limited to: sweeteners, flavors and colors.

  • Week 14: No more than 5-indgredients – Avoid any and all packaged food products that contain more than five ingredients no matter what ingredients

Know Where Your Food Comes From

Whenever possible, please support local growers by shopping at a farmers market! Getting to know the people that actually grow your food is a great experience and you’ll be supporting your local community at the same time.

This article was originally featured at Eat Local Grown.

About the Author

Lisa Leake is a wife, mother, foodie, and blogger who chronicles her family’s journey on 100daysofrealfood.com as they seek out the real food in our processed food world. Projects include a 100-day pledge to avoid all processed foods and refined ingredients as well as another 100-day pledge on a food stamp budget. Leake’s award-winning blog is receiving national attention from big names like Rachael Ray, Jamie Oliver, and Yahoo! and has also been turned into a nationally syndicated newspaper column.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Waking Times or its staff.

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6 Comments on "14 Steps to Cut Out Processed Food"

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  1. matthew ciuccio says:

    I just can’t do the last one, no more than 5 ingredients. So I manipulate to to no more that 5 ingredients that are not a whole food. Yes, I am a slacker. Sorry. (i’m still going to die one day the healthiest guy I know).

  2. dimitri ledkovsky says:

    Way, way easier said than done. But periodically I take most of these steps. I would also include a week when you fast for 24 hours at least for one day. Or be extreme and do the ten day lemon juice + maple syrup cleanse.

  3. scott says:

    What’s wrong with stevia and agave?

  4. Mollie says:

    I’ve read up on how agave is not natural in any sense but highly refined and has high levels of fructose. I am curious as to why Stevia is not recommended by this article? I’ve only heard good things about this natural herbal sweetener, and know that (unlike raw honey/maple syrup) does not feed Candida with overuse…

  5. pat says:

    NO GRAINS-modern grains are mostly all toxic and indigestible-ditto dairy and animal protein not raised on chemtrail and factory farmed poisons…no nightshade or pesticide or chemtrail poisoned fruits and vegetable either. NOW what is left??? not much.

  6. muggies says:

    I have done these and more many years ago. At this point it is all second nature. I know where to get the items I need, and these places also just are part of my routine. For example, once you find a store that sells local organic meat, you make that store a regular stop, whether it’s once a twice a week or whether you go once a month and freeze your meat.

    And remember that everything that comes in a package can be made at home with pure, natural ingredients of the highest quality. Pick one thing at a time, and play around with recipes until you find one you like. Chips, soups, salad dressing, spice mixes, etc, can all be made at home. The cost savings on making your own “packaged” food will fully cover the cost of higher quality ingredients. Making your own crunchy snacks to replace chips often costs less than 10 cents a batch, instead of $2 or $3. Salad dressing costs 20 cents for 2 cups, instead of $3 to $5. Spice mixes are often less than a penny a serving, instead of $1 to $2.

    The first few times you make your own stuff it will take longer, but once you get used to it, it doesn’t take any more time at all.

    The health benefits of doing all these and more, when done to the extreme, are beyond amazing. I was very sick, very fat, very tired, very miserable before I changed my diet. Now I’m almost 50, I’m thin and lean, never get tired, no longer sick, never get a cold or flu, and feel better than I did as a teenager. No aches and pains ever, a clear thinking mind.

    Just like drugs, a “little bit” of bad food chemicals is not good for you. If you do the work to remove all of these things, the rewards are very high. You can eat all kinds of stuff, it’s just a different routine.

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