Everywhere I look, I see a trend towards people wanting to have healthier food or drinks, which is great! But what is healthier and for who? I don’t know the answer for everyone but I do know that I seek real, nourishing food and when I do, we all feel better.
I think the most nourishing, real food will be as close to its original form as possible. So if we are talking about the macaroni and cheese, then if we made this from real food its ingredients would look something like this: cheese, milk, butter, and pasta. Where as I am not going to list the ingredients on most boxed, canned, or microwavable macaroni and cheese meals because the list includes many things that I don’t recognize.
Real food is also unadulterated with pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and hormones. So if you are eating broccoli that has been sprayed with pesticides, then you are actually eating broccoli and pesticide (aka antibiotic, antifungal, hormone disruptor and who knows what else.) This is true for meat too. I prefer to eat meat that has grown up as animals eating food that it was intended to eat hundreds of years ago. So for beef, this means cows that grew up grazing on lush, unsprayed grassland. For chickens, this means birds that grew up pecking around a farm for insects and worms. It also means that the animals lived the length of life that was intended, and they were not injected or bred to grow to maturity in a course of only a number of weeks. That does not sound real right? Real food animals are not kept in a pen in which they can barely move. They live as nature intended, on land where they forage and move around under the sun.
So if I am ever wondering what to eat, I ask myself, does it sound like something real and does it look real? Does it look like it was grown as nature intended and am I eating it in as close to the form it takes in nature as possible? I hope so.
As a side note, food marketing is very confusing in regards to labeling when choosing real food. Grass fed, natural, free range… these might not end up being what you envision when you read the label. For example, grass fed can be on a label, but the animal may have only been fed grass for a portion of their life. Or natural is a label that can be on almost anything without qualifications. Your best bet… get food from a farm or store near you where you trust their standards. Also, don’t forget that you are welcome to ask questions. A farm or store that won’t openly answer your questions or give you a tour, might be a place you no longer want to shop. If they really felt good about what they were doing, they would most likely welcome you with open arms and share information. Quit often farmers and food providers love that people are learning about what they do since so many people don’t care. Most farmers who are raising real food are so proud of what they are doing that they can’t stop talking about it and love when questions about their food arise! I recently heard a great point that “a nutrition label on food is a warning label.” What does this mean? It means that if you are eating food that has a label, then beware that there might be things in your food or done to your food that might not be in the best interest of your health. So if it has a label read it and see how you feel about the food after reading it. It might still be great and on your table that evening, or it might go back on the shelf and not go home with you that day.
Whenever I talk about eating “Real Food” people often ask me, well do you eat vegetarian, vegan, paleo, or what? Personally, I found that I need animal products in my diet to feel “good” (aka for my hormones to function smoothly and for me to not break out with nasty acne.) That said, I think that sourcing your ingredients from a trusted, clean source is more important that having a genre of food that you do or don’t eat. I would rather eat organic cabbage than industrialized produced meat, but I would rather eat real grass fed and grass finished meat than industrialized produced cabbage. I get the best real food I can and I care about its origin more than if it fits in a category on the food chart. If you want to know more about this, read a bit about glyphosphate (moms across America .com) and how it is being sprayed on our food and what it does to our bodies. Yuck! It is reported to be an endocrine disruptor and in case you were wondering, I don’t need anything messing with my hormones than I already have going on myself!
For those of you looking to see how to start on real food, here are five easy, not so expensive things that jump started my wellness when I transitioned to real food :
- Use Real Salt – switch your kitchen salt to a “real” one like Redmond Real Salt or Celtic Sea Salt. The next time you have to buy salt, try a new one. Refined salt is striped of its minerals that our bodies often need and love.
- Make Broth (if you are not vegetarian or vegan) – or buy a high quality one if you don’t make it. If you do make it, get some bones from a trusted grocery and put them in some water and let them boil. Add some lemon juice or a bit of salt or an onion and voila. You have a nourishing base for soups, sauces or even to cook your pasta or rice in the next time they are on the menu. Bone broth can help with joints, skin, digestion, sleep and more. One tip that I recently heard was that fish bones are much cheaper than chicken or beef. So if you are on a budget and you are into flavors of the sea, try making your broth from fish bones and let me know what you think. I heard that fish broth can make a killer soup base!
- Eat organic veggies and meat (if you are a meat eater) or at least love up on your organic veggies. Some people complain that organic is expensive. Healthcare is expensive too. Spend a little extra on the veggies and meat and you might save a lot on your health expenses at a later date.
- Stop eating refined sugar – there are so many options these days so you don’t have to eat sugar anymore. Hooray! White sugar is great for feeding your kombucha SCOBY (if you don’t know what that is, look it up or let me know and I would love to help you find out.) It makes sense that sugar may be in real baked goods, but it isn’t something that we need to eat everyday in so many ways! I was reading labels in the store and I was about to buy a bag of organic tortilla chips when I read that they had sugar in them. Why do tortilla chips need to have sugar in them? I don’t’ know, but you may find that sugar is way more prolific that you think. Read labels and choose an alternative if what you buy has refined sugar in it.
- Stop eating refined vegetable oils – this one is a little harder to do and to wrap logic around. I mean they are called vegetable oils right? Right but they are not good for you. Look up the production of vegetable oils and you will see why. They were not something that we ate traditionally and they seem to throw off our delicate Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acid ratio. Replace these often rancid oils with oils used for centuries including olive, ghee, coconut, butter, and avocado. My body thanked me as soon as I made this change.
So the next time you think, what should I make for dinner…. and you go for a boxed meal you just might as easily grab some broth, put it in a pot with a meat/protein of your choice, some veggies, a bit of ghee or oil, spices if you like and let it cook. This method makes an aromatic, delicious meal in no time and often fools people into thinking that I am an amazing cook! And if you have picky eaters at your table, throw in something that you know they like to such as organic rice or pasta so that they can still enjoy the benefits of soup with some of their “normal” favorite foods too.
For more information on the science, the why, and the impact of eating real food on our bodies check out a few of these incredible people’s work: Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Chris Kresser, Dr Terry Wahls, Dave Asprey, and Dr. Weston Price.