If you're looking to make healthier eating choices and reduce your consumption of highly processed foods, the best way to start is slowly. Begin by gradually introducing fresh foods into your meals and opting for whole grains instead of processed grains. You can also use snack replacements and highly processed foods to help you transition. Vegetables are a great source of fiber, which can help you feel full between meals and reduce cravings.
Real foods are single-ingredient whole foods that are low in additives and high in nutrients. Eating real food is key to good health, and you can reduce your consumption of other processed foods by making homemade versions of your favorite prepared meals. Instead of frozen pizza, try making your own with fresh ingredients. You'll know exactly what you're eating, and it can be just as practical as using packaged foods.
Eliminate foods that are high in sugar, such as cereals and pastries. Instead, opt for whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats. Many foods that come in plastic bags, boxes, or cans are minimally processed and healthy. Examples include dried beans, bagged salad greens, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables (without added sauces, salt, or sugar).
Healthy alternatives to processed foods that you can make at home include chia pudding, air-popped popcorn, granola bars, and fruit leather. If stress is causing you to eat more snacks or lean towards processed and ultra-processed foods, try to find healthier ways to cope with it. Not everything that comes in a plastic box or container is bad for you - learn what packaged foods can actually be part of a healthy diet. Swapping processed foods for healthier whole foods is one of the easiest ways to reduce your intake.
Oatmeal is a great example of a whole food with just one ingredient: oatmeal. You can also enjoy many processed foods as part of a healthy diet - such as canned vegetables, frozen fruits, and pasteurized dairy products - but limit those that are high in sodium, sugar, additives, and preservatives.