To avoid processed foods, look out for items that contain hydrogenated fat or oil, cook with natural oils and ingredients, and check labels for high fructose corn syrup and MSG. Soda and foods that contain chemicals should also be avoided.
Processed foods have been altered in some way, and they often contain ingredients designed to extend the product's shelf life and prevent the food from going bad quickly. Avoid pre-packaged foods with preservatives listed on their labels whenever possible.
Fried food and packaged foods, especially packaged baked goods, usually contain significant amounts of hydrogenated fats and oils, so they should be avoided. Some foods may claim to be trans fat free, but the FDA allows up to a 1/2 gram of trans fat, which can add up if you are not aware.
When cooking at home, use buttermilk, olive oil, butter and soy oil when possible. Check food packages for high fructose corn syrup, and avoid products containing it. High fructose corn syrup is found in most sodas, but it may also be added to unexpected foods such as pasta sauce or bread. Foods that contain dextrose, glucose, maltose or lactose should also be avoided. Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour, and don't buy foods that contain monosodium glutamate, or MSG.