There are only two categories of foods: whole foods and processed foods.
A healthy balanced diet should be primarily whole foods with restricted consumption of processed foods. There are numerous ways to differentiate between these two.
Processed food that's organic is still processed food !
If a food comes out of a box and is labeled organic, it means it's healthier only in that it was minimally produced without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation. And you can feel good that workers, animals, and the environment were all treated better in the process.
However, it might not be nutritionally better for you!
Generally speaking, processed foods are produced using manufacturing methods to transform raw ingredients into neatly packaged goods, which have a longer shelf life. Some of the artificial ingredients used include monosodium glutamate (MSG), flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated oil, fillers, and artificial sweeteners. Usually, consumers can prepare them quickly allowing immediate intake.
Disappointingly, they don’t offer much in nutritional value. Most likely, it's processed food if it's wrapped in several layers of plastic, cardboard, and/or foil, and it didn't exist until after 1903 when the hydrogenation process was invented. In addition to being excessively advertised, this food category is well funded by government subsidies. These foodstuffs are located on the shelves of the inside middle aisles in grocery stores. Examples of processed foods include sugary drinks including juices, cereals, and crackers, rice cakes, cakes, biscuits.
On the other hand, whole foods are grown in orchards, gardens, or greenhouses, are unprocessed and unrefined, and have a shorter shelf life. These foods are authentically flavorful, have vibrant colors, and rich textures. Moreover, they are full of the micronutrient vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber. Typically, they require longer preparation times. In contrast, they receive very little media advertising, and are not well funded with government subsidies. When you are in grocery stores, these foods are mainly found on the store’s wall aisles to the sides and back of the store. Additionally, this food category can be found at farmers markets, and at fresh fruit and vegetable stands. Examples of whole foods include unpolished grains, fruits, and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
The easiest way to swop your snacks to whole foods is to just add in fresh, raw fruit and vegetables as snacks such as apples, pears, carrot, cucumbers and pepper sticks with a tablespoon of humus or tahini, nuts and seeds with dried fruits, or even making your own health bars, energy balls, truffles, using wholesome ingredients conventional or organic.
Another all time favourite healthy snack made from fresh, raw, ingredients are smoothies. You can make them with fruits or veggies, add in some goat’s / sheep’s yogurt, tahini, alternative milks, goat’s milk, superfoods / powerfoods (spirulina, moringa, bee pollen, maca, carob powder, aloe vera, chia, hemp, acai etc..) and leafy greens like kale, spinach, parsley, coriander.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !