Now is the time for New Year's resolutions. Most people are trying to create and stick to their wellness goals by steering clear of any foods and drinks that could get in the way of fulfilling such goals. Certain types of foods that everyone should try to avoid are ultra-processed or highly processed foods. Why? They most likely have many added ingredients such as sugar, salt, fat and artificial colors. This article will take you through ultra-processed foods, the main ones to avoid, why they are bad for overall health and wellness, and healthy alternatives to swap in! 


The Why

Food processing is an integral part of making foods edible and safe. However, highly ultra-processed foods can result in different health conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Essentially, ultra-processed foods are often marked as "healthy," "natural," and "organic." While these words may describe the authentic ingredients, they don't refer to the initial process of how these foods are made. 

Ultra-processed foods are bad for the body because they are less filling, ultimately leading you to indulge in more food. These foods naturally raise blood sugar levels significantly higher than minimally processed foods. They are also usually higher in calories and sugar and lower in protein and fibers. 


Examples of Ultra-Processed Foods

You may be wondering, "What are some examples of these foods, and how do we go about avoiding them?" Don't worry; here's what you need to know! 


A few ultra-processed foods include ice cream, cookies, ham, sausages, mass-produced bread, sugary breakfast cereals, candy bars, fruit-flavored yogurts, instant soups, carbonated drinks, sweet or savory packaged snacks, cake mixes, margarine, and many ready-to-heat frozen products. While these foods seem like the easiest and quickest way to cook, they’re not the healthiest for our bodies. 


Healthier Alternatives 

Cereals may be cheap and quick for breakfast, but porridge oats are even more affordable, healthier, and cozier for those cold mornings. Spice yours up by turning it into overnight oats or by adding nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a dash of cinnamon on top. 

Now let's talk about those infamous, ready-to-eat frozen meals. Sure, they're easy, but that's all they are. Avoid frozen meals. Instead, double or triple the quantity of food you usually cook and freeze portions in batches. This way, you get to enjoy a home-cooked meal while also avoiding that unnecessary junk!


If you're someone who is used to eating ready-to-serve meals, this can be quite the undertaking. So, take it in stride. Choose one meal from your day and commit to making it yourself every day of the week. Maybe even pick one of your snacks and swap it out with something that isn't highly processed, like fruits or vegetables. However you choose to approach it, slowly inch your way away from a diet rich in ultra-processed foods for the benefit of your overall mind and body wellness.