What is real food? Some say it’s organic food. Some say it’s local food. Some say whatever you can buy at the store near you. Everyone seems to have an opinion these days on what you should eat. We each have to make a choice on what is best for our families in each situation. Not everyone can afford the same kinds of foods. Not everyone has the time to make everything the same way. What we do have is the responsibility to find out what is in our foods and what we are putting into our bodies and make our choices based on knowledge and not just convenience.
I started a journey to eating real foods after we found out my son had a peanut allergy. When I started reading the ingredients list on the foods I was buying, I realized that so much of it was manufactured in the same place as nuts or that the ingredients list was so long with so many things I couldn’t pronounce that I had no idea what was actually in it. I started doing more research into food and discovered a need to change our habits. I had to ask some questions and seek to find the answers.
What are the best foods for our health? How do these unpronounceable ingredients affect our bodies? How can I feed my family with the healthiest most nutritious food I can find? What is real food?
When I first started looking into this food thing, I got overwhelmed easily. Sometimes I would go to the store and just have no idea what to buy. I felt like no matter what I got, I was going to choose something that was bad for my family. I realized that I had to take it slowly and work my way up to the point I wanted to be at in our eating habits. I had to take baby steps toward healthier eating and leave the rest up to God.
I used to have a full pantry and a half empty (or full of expired leftovers) fridge. Now its the opposite. My fridge is overflowing, and I have actually been able to downsize my pantry to make room for my craft supplies. I try to buy food in it’s most basic form. I would love to buy everything organic, but that’s not always possible. It’s been a process of five years to get to the point that I am at today. I feel like there is so much more that I could do to be even healthier, but I also know that it’s a process. I have to work new things into my routine as I can.
So what is real food? The best explanation I have found comes from 100 Days of Real Food. Here she talks about what real food is and is not. I like it because it’s clear and concise. It leaves it up to you for interpretation for your situation, but it also doesn’t sugar-coat it. Even organic processed foods are under the not real list.
What are the benefits of eating real food? Real food tastes better. It makes you feel good and not like you want to throw up because you ate too much junk. You know exactly what you are getting and don’t have to wonder what yeast extract, dextrose, sodium benzoate, etc. are and what they can do to your body. It can actually be cheaper. Processed foods are convenient but not always less expensive. You can make some great meals for not a lot of money when you buy the ingredients yourself (especially if you can get good deals by buying in bulk like flour, grains, etc).
Where do you start? Next time you go grocery shopping, stop and take a close look at your cart. Is it full of fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, cheeses, milk, etc. Or is it mostly just cans, boxes, and frozen dinners? What item can you switch out today that can start you on your journey to healthier, Real Food eating? Start simple with things that you already buy like cheese. Buy the block instead of the pre-shredded that has added preservatives. It doesn’t take that much more time to grate your own, and you’ll already be cutting out one more unnecessary chemical. Instead of frozen pizza, buy pre-made crust and your own toppings. It will get you used to putting together your own and then you can take the next step and start making your own crust and sauce eventually. There are ways to start you on the process without needing to spend all day in the kitchen to start. When you get more used to your new way of eating, you will find it becoming more simple every day.
It can get overwhelming but don’t let it discourage you. Take baby steps if you have to. Change one thing at a time until you get the hang of it. If you are the kind of person that has to go extreme and throw everything out and start fresh then go for it! But if that last sentence makes your stomach tighten into a knot, don’t give up yet. You can still take it one step at a time and start your life on a healthier way of living.
Want to start reading more about Real Food eating? Check out these great Real Food blogs that I’ve been keeping up with:
And on 100 Days of Real Food, check out a list of other Real Food Blogs out there.