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Lose the Freshman 15: Cutting out Processed Foods

Hey collegiettes!  This week I have challenged myself to avoid eating processed foods.  My friend inspired me to take on this task, as she is trying to eat foods with only natural ingredients.  I know fad diets are never a good idea, but I do not see these eating choices as being on a diet, but rather making myself more aware of what I am putting into my body.  I am not trying to avoid eating processed foods in order to only lose weight, but rather to avoid the negative health effects that these foods have as well.

Besides the general heatlh benefits, such as weight loss, higher energy levels, clearer skin, and just an overall healthier feeling, there are many other reasons to cut out processed foods.  Potato chips, crackers, packaged cookies, fast food, and others are all extremely addictive.  Most of the sugars found in processed foods block the hormone signal that notifies your brain it’s time to stop eating.  Not only are you eating food with low-nutritional value, you are also going to be eating more of it.  Eating sugar also triggers the release of neurotransmitters called opiods, which are in charge of stimulating pleasure pathways in the brain.  Believe it or not– drugs like heroin use these same pathways, so if you eat enough of it, you could become truly addicted to processed foods!  

Processed foods are also known for abnormal amounts of pesticides and GMOs (genetically modified organisms), which both have negative effects on the body inside and out.  Certain ingredients in processed foods can lead your face to wrinkle faster as well as lead it to break out more frequently.  Other ingredients cause a deterioration of your organs, especially the kidney, and bones.  Eating too much processed foods can increase your probability of getting heart diesease and other illnesses. 

So what should you do?  EAT REAL FOOD!  Eating mostly natural foods will ensure that you are receiving nutrients in every bite!

Here are some suggestions:

  • Berries– strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries– all great for the summer!  It could be a fun activity to go berry picking at a local farm
  • Green vegetables– green beans, celery, broccoli, spinach, kale
  • Salmon– omega 3 fatty acids
  • Eggs– one of the superfoods in SELF’s Drop 10 diet!  So many options from scrambled to fried to poached to boiled!
  • Nuts– almonds are a great choice!  Be careful though- eat these in moderation because nuts are still very caloric
  • Apples– another one of the superfoods in SELF’s Drop 10 diet!  Lots of varieties to choose from
  • Bananas– great source of potassium and fuel for a workout
  • Beans– great source of protein
  • Lean meat– chicken and turkey are filled with protein that can help your body maintain muscle mass– higher muscle mass, higher metabolic rate
  • Sweet potatoes– very filling due to amounts of fiber and also a good source of vitamin A and B6
  • Brown rice– great whole grain!

Good luck in our last week of the diet!  Finish strong ladies!  We can do it!

Until Friday



Nicole Yang is an Editorial Intern at Her Campus.  Before joining the team at HC, she previously was the Managing Editor of her college's weekly newspaper, The Amherst Student.  While at Amherst College, Nicole was also a tour guide and a member of the women's varsity squash team.  Her professional experience includes working as a Communications Intern for Comcast and Monster, and her work has been published by Fast Company, Fortune, and The Sports Quotient.  Follow her on Twitter.
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