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7 Reasons Why You Should Stop Eating Ready Meals

7 Reasons Why You Should Stop Eating Ready Meals

If you cannot be bothered to cook, there are always ready meals. Popping these meals in the oven or microwave is the answer to your prayers. No shopping, no chopping up onions and crying, no frying, and no washing up. Sounds great!

If you work in this sector, your job looks safe as this industry in the UK is already worth £2.3 billion ($3 bn) and a 20% growth is forecast by 2017.

But is it really healthy? Here are 7 reasons you should stop eating these ready meals and start preparing simple, nourishing food again.

1. They contain fake vitamins and minerals.

Look at all the trouble you take to get your vitamin supplements every day and here you are gulping down fake ones in ready meals. Processing food means all the original nutrients get stripped out. The other bad news is that most multivitamin supplements we take are also processed!

Food manufacturers make cheap vitamins in laboratories and pump them into fortified foods and ready meals. They last a long time, but are synthetic vitamins and minerals good for you?

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No, because we will have trouble in digesting them and they may contain chemical compounds which were never meant to be eaten by humans. They are not natural and that is why home-cooked fresh food is always better. Here are some great recipe ideas to make your cooking faster and healthier.

2. The portions are rather small.

This is a massive industry and the economies of scale are just mind boggling. Tons of chicken tikka or half a million kebabs are processed in one day. Ingredients are assembled and stored in massive quantities.

Have you noticed how small the portions are? This might console you in that you are eating a smaller amount of preservatives and additives. The problem is that you will feel hungry soon and you will start snacking on more unhealthy stuff. It is a vicious circle.

3. They contain too many vegetable oils.

One way to avoid this is to make sure that any ready meals you must have (because of an emergency or the occasional bout of laziness) are more protein and plant based. That is certainly a healthier option.

If not, then you are going to get a rather nasty dose of additives such as unhealthy vegetable oils. Lots of vegetable oils are around such as canola, sunflower, corn, and cottonseed oil. They contain lots of polyunsaturated fatty acids which are bad for you. Vegetable oils can cause inflammation and may contribute to heart disease. You will notice that none of these meals contain olive or coconut oil which are healthy but, of course, cost too much for this industry.

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It is no secret that many vegetable oils are processed using highly toxic solvents and industrial chemicals.

4. They contain too many chemicals.

There are lots of other ingredients which you can see on the label which lengthen the shelf life but not yours!  I often see chemicals on the label such as:

  • Artificial flavor
  • Sucralose
  • Chromium amino acid chelate
  • Mono and diglycerides
  • Maltodextrin
  • Dipotassium phosphate
  • Glycerin
  • Sodium caseinate

Do any of these sound like real food? I know that all these chemicals have been tested for safety, but why not go back to some real nourishment?

I bought some low calorie cookies recently. But I had such cravings afterwards that I was convinced that there was some tweaking with chemicals going on, to get me to eat and buy some more. When I watched this video, I realized what they were up to and went back to fresh fruit!

5. They are packed with sugar.

Tempted by a Chinese sweet and sour dish? Be careful! This is one of the worst offenders as regards sugar levels. Just one serving of a typical ready made version was found to have 50.7 grams of sugar. That is on top of all the other sugar that you have already consumed to-day in coffee, soda and cookies.

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The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends that our daily amount of sugar should be around 25 grams (about 6 teaspoons). Too much sugar has been linked to obesity, cancer, and diabetes.

This does not refer to the sugars contained in fruit, vegetables, and milk as these are regarded as healthy.

6. They contain too much salt.

Why do ready meals contain so much salt? The answer is that because the ingredients have been frozen and transported for thousands of miles they tend to lose their flavor. The best way to spice them up is to add salt which is easy and cheap. It is disastrous for your health, though. Too much salt causes high blood pressure and heart disease. It may also cause osteoporosis, kidney stones, and there may be a link to stomach cancer.

The RDA (recommended daily amount) of salt for adults is 6 grams. But watch those labels on ready meals. If they say that there is a certain amount of sodium, you have to multiply that by 2.5 times to get the salt figure. If you see sodium reported as 2.4 grams, you have reached your daily limit. Food manufacturers are exploiting this to mislead customers.

7. They are mass produced and every healthy ingredient is at risk.

It is good for business but not your waistline. These companies want you to eat more and more. It helps the economy so what is wrong with that? They also cut their costs to a minimum so they benefit but you don’t. If you read Michael Moss’s Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, you will be shocked.

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They cut the simmering time in half and use salt instead to highlight the flavor. Herbs are too expensive so they toss in some more salt!

These food processing companies are in a giant industry. Ready meals are made in enormous quantities. That means long distances, warehouses, and endless storage and refrigeration. In the end, the coloring agents, chemicals, and all the preservatives are the only way to get that food on your supermarket shelf.

I’ve had enough!  Pass me the chopping board and those onions, would you?

Featured photo credit: Japanese ready meal – noodles/Andrew and Annemarie via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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