Make 2017 the year you banish refined foods



Why you should stop eating refined foods

Foods such as white bread, white rice, breakfast cereals, and many snack foods, are often the product of a process called refining.

In refining a grain, the bran and the germ portions on the outside are removed. This is done to produce a desired texture or to extend the freshness of a product. Refined grains are often added as an ingredient to make other foods, like white bread, or they can be consumed by themselves, like white rice. In the case of sugar, the refining process refers to filtering sugar cane or beets until the desired material (the sugar crystal) is obtained.

Unfortunately, refining often produces foods containing little nutrition. What is lost with the bran and the germ of a grain is fibre, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, zinc, antioxidants (like vitamin E) and selenium – as well as other important phytochemicals (chemicals existing naturally in plants) that may help to reduce the risk of several chronic diseases. As a result of this loss, most refined grains have to be enriched
with vitamins and minerals in order to provide more nutritional value.

Furthermore, foods that have been refined tend to break down shortly after being consumed, resulting in a spike, and then sudden dip in blood sugars. This often leaves us feeling hungry within a short period of consuming the food and craving for more refined foods.

Along with being low in fibre and high in sugar, refined foods are also often high in fat, especially saturated and trans fats, as well as sodium and other preservatives. Refined foods now make up the bulk of our Western diet. A diet high in refined foods has been linked to chronic conditions such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, macular degeneration, cancer and diabetes.

8 steps to a healthier diet

1.Stick to whole, fresh foods instead of meals that come in packages. Eat fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes, raw nuts and seeds, natural nut butters, and whole fruit often. Use homemade sauces and dressings instead of those you buy in a bottle.

2.Fill up half your plate with vegetables before adding any other foods to your plate, and eat raw vegetables as snacks whenever you can. The more you fill up on naturally low calorie, high-fibre, nutrient-dense foods the less room there is for refined, processed, calorie-dense indulgences.

3.If you eat bread, crisps, or crackers, look for words like “sprouted grain”, “whole grain” or “stone ground”. Try experimenting with raw flat breads or homemade superfood crisps like Medisys dietitian Crystal Higgins’ sweet & savoury maple cinnamon kale crisps.

4.Replace white rice with whole grains like barley or quinoa; and use steel-cut oats in place of “instant” or “quick” oats to boost fibre.

5.When baking, replace each 1 cup of white flour with 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup of seeds and nut meals such as flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, salba, wheat germ, ground almond meal, or psyllium husks.

6.If you buy something that comes in a box, can, or jar READ LABELS. On the “Nutrition Facts” table, look for foods that are high in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals and low in sugar, salt, saturated and trans fats. Compare the labels of similar products and this will give you an idea of the most nutritious products out there.

7.Keep fresh cut raw veggies on hand for easy-snacking; do not go over 3-4 hours without eating a meal or snack. If you let yourself get ravenous, you’ll likely crave unhealthy, refined foods.

8.Use the 80:20 rule. Follow healthy eating guidelines 80% of the time, and allow yourself a “treat” 20% of the time.



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