Nature-made food comes packed with the good stuff — vitamins, micronutrients, minerals and fiber — delivering the important nutrients that sustains life.

And then there is processed food, which contain high amounts of salt, sugar and fat. Over time, these foods alter our sense of taste, extend our waistlines and damage our cardiovascular systems. In addition to that, these packaged foods include many extra ingredients designed to enhance flavor and extend shelf life. But the health effects from these extras can range from questionable to inadvisable. Instead of nourishing our bodies, these ingredients feed our cravings and actually make us less healthy in the long run. At New Life Hiking Spa, we serve healthy, whole food, freshly prepared in our New Life kitchen by expert chefs.

Here are just a few reasons to quit your packaged-food habit:

Potassium sorbate: In a lab study, this preservative damaged DNA in human blood cells. Further investigation will be needed to determine the true risk. If you don’t want to chance it, just be aware it can be found in things you are consuming to boost your health, such as dried fruit and some dietary supplements!

Clever food engineering: Sometimes, it’s a matter of construction that can mess with our perceptions and make us want to eat more. Take the cheese puff. It is built on the principle of “vanishing caloric density.” That is, when you eat it, the air constructed into this tasty snack tricks your brain into thinking you are not getting enough calories, so it tells you to eat more.

Aspartame: For many, this artificial sweetener may serve as a green light to keep chugging soda. Yes, it does spare you from sugar’s empty calories, but studies show this stuff is actually counterproductive to weight loss. It alters the brain’s sweet receptors and prolongs sugar cravings. Researchers also found that over a decade, diet soda drinkers had a 70 percent greater increase in waist circumference than non-diet soda drinkers.

Nitrites: In October 2015, the WHO deemed processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon and lunch meat as carcinogens that raise the risk of colon cancer. While the warning did not point to any one thing, nitrites added to red meat are linked to cancer in animal studies.

Instead of filling your body with fats and mysterious chemicals that may harm you in ways we don’t yet know or understand, know what you are putting into your body. Focus on real food, whole grains, fresh lean meat and plant food that comes in natural packaging.  And, while you are working on putting what nature gave us in your body, go for a hike to experience the benefits of putting your body outside in nature!

Thinking of a way to get off the cycle of bad habits?  That’s what we are here for!  A vacation at New Life Hiking Spa will get you on that track.  It’s what we do.  Take a look at or give us a call at 802-353-2954.