Many times in our busy lives we have the best intentions to eat fresh, minimally to unprocessed foods as often as possible, but allow time for preparation or cost to get in the way. This past weekend, I was traveling for a dance competition and had some time to explore Seattle. I luckily had some free time to explore and check out Pike’s Place Market. While I was there, I got super excited (as most dietitians would) to see the large amounts of beautifully bright and colorful fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh meat and fish! While I was walking through this market filled with fresh foods, it inspired me to stop and think for a minute. Depending on where you live, these options may not be quite as accessible, but there is usually at least one grocery store, if not a market where these foods are available. So I thought to myself, why do we so often go for processed foods over these delicious fresh choices?
It really came down to convenience and cost. Therefore, I wanted to discuss the benefits of making these fresh food choices, as well as a couple ideas as to how to make these more accessible.
First let’s start with the benefits of eating fresh, un/minimally processed foods. These food options generally provide a wide range of, not only your macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats), but also provide a significant amount of your required micronutrients and other phytonutrients that can help with optimal body function, provide antioxidants, and provide natural sources of fiber. In addition, these foods don’t go through the same process that can many times break down the nutrients and make them no longer available as you would see in many processed foods. In addition to receiving fantastic, nutrient rich nutrition, these fresh foods also minimize the amount of chemicals that your body really doesn’t need from entering your body to allow your body to function at its best without having to worry about sifting through the chemicals that your body cannot use and having to work harder to naturally detox.
Convenience. Buying fresh food in bulk and meal prepping or freezing (especially meats and fish) allows for the best use of fresh foods before they go bad. This allows you to minimize waste and still maintain convenience without consuming so many processed ingredients.
Cost. Buy fresh foods in season. Most state’s health departments have a list of which fresh foods are in season when. Buy in bulk and freeze/use as discussed which many times can save you money when buying at stores like Costco or even sometimes at markets. Lastly, if you’d prefer to choose organic, but cannot always afford it. Buy your fruits and veggies with soft peels organic and those with harder peels non-organic as the edible portion of these foods is less likely to be effected.
Make the decision to eat more fresh foods more frequently, color your plate, and reap the benefits of receiving the best nutrition possible, not being bogged down by ingredients you can’t even pronounce, lastly and enjoy how much tastier those foods can sometimes be!
I hope you enjoyed these fun facts and tips on why to choose fresh first and would love to hear some of your experiences as to why you choose to eat more fresh foods or shy away from them?
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Wishing you a week of health, flavor, and freshness,
-Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN
Denver’s Dancing Dietitian
A Taste of Health, LLC
“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”