The scientific studies keep rolling in backing up common sense ideas about health and nutrition. Hopefully the government is listening and will act accordingly. We spend billions treating disease, when preventative health measures could save countless lives, the misery of illness and billions in lost productivity. Eating whole, organic foods, which are free from harmful ingredients or unhealthy processing has been labeled ‘clean eating’ although I prefer the term ‘healthy eating’. Whatever you call it, these new studies are highlighting the grave dangers of the standard western diet. For example, a recent study has shown that one-fifth of global deaths are linked to processed junk food and toxic ingredients. These findings from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington were published in The Lancet medical journal. They show that legally allowed levels of toxins and harmful ingredients in our foods are now one of the biggest killers of human beings on the planet. Another study showed that just a 10 per cent increase in ultra-processed food intake is associated with a 12 per cent increased risk of cancer. These findings from the Sorbonne in Paris and the University of Sao Paulo were reported in the British Medical Journal. Ultra-processed foods include ones that have five or more ingredients, have undergone heat processing and contain additives and preservatives and are likely to be high in salt and sugar. Added to this is the classification by the World Health Organization that processed meat is now regarded as a level 1 carcinogen. But food is big business. These studies present an inconvenient truth to the gigantic transnational corporations with a huge financial interest in maintaining the status quo. It is only going to get tougher for these companies to survive selling products filled with harmful ingredients in this climate One argument for ultra-processed food is that it is cheap, so forms an important part of the diet for poor people. I find it ludicrous that whole foods like fruit, vegetables, oats, rice and lentils are considered more expensive than processed foods. We need to realise we can have healthy food on a budget. In the world we live in processed food certainly does have its place. It can store food safely and provides convenience. Some processed foods are quite healthy; tins of tomatoes, a jar of peanut butter, a pack of frozen peas are all useful additions to my life. My advice is to get informed and make changes one simple step at a time. Remember, you don’t have to overhaul your whole life in one go. Here are a few ideas: - Reduce or eliminate refined sugar from your diet. Use maple syrup, coconut sugar, local honey or fruit to sweeten things instead. - Fill up on good food, like a superfood smoothie in the morning, so you won’t need to eat junk later. - Make a big batch of food, such as a stew, veg chili, curry or casserole and keep it in the fridge or freezer for when you are short of time. - Swap white bread and pasta for wholemeal or other alternative. - Cut out or eliminate all processed meat. If you want to eat meat, do so sparingly, and buy organic whenever possible. There are numerous healthier plant-based protein sources. - We sometimes eat when we are thirsty. Drink plenty of water, not beverages containing artificial ingredients. - Make some healthy treats to have on hand when you need a boost (my book Divine Desserts features loads of them). - A sugar craving can mean your body needs protein or fat. A handful of nuts, seeds and dried fruit makes a quick snack. Avocados are a wonderful food to help overcome cravings. - Carry an orange or apple about with you for when you get hungry when out. - Start to look at the ingredients in the foods that you buy. If an item contains more than 5 ingredients with words you do not understand, be on your guard.