There is a “real food” movement that has gained popularity in the recent years. It is a way of life that involves eating food in its most natural form – free from artificial add-ons, free from confinement and refinery, and free from alternative methods of preparation, such as microwave heat. All of this can create free radicals in your food, which can lead to cancer if ingested. Those who partake in the real food lifestyle feel healthier and happier, and often shed some unwanted pounds.
This change in lifestyle is usually not adopted over night since it takes time to reset your body, which has grown accustomed to years and years of processed foods, or “factory foods.” Think of the Entenmann’s baked goods section, Twinkies, Yodels, Doritos, Cheetos, Teddy Grahams, and even most boxed cereal – these are ALL factory processed foods that are TERRIBLE for you. They contain ingredients that will have you going back again and again for more, like an addiction. What is worse is that these foods can also lead to physical illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cancer. That, in a nutshell, is what factory foods will do to you.
Eating real food, however, will have you feeling more energetic, more positive and happy, free of disease and/or sickness, and more full more of the time. It’s a pretty simple concept that we can incorporate gradually into our daily lives. If you are lucky enough to live in an area that has great farmer’s markets, that is the best way to supply your real food diet. Farmer’s markets offer fruits and vegetables free from pesticides, homemade cheeses and milk, fresh made maple syrup and jams and marmalades, grass-fed beef and free-range chicken and eggs. But if you live in a big city like I do, you sometimes have to rely on your local supermarket.
If that is your case, the main idea is to look for foods in the outer corners of a supermarket – foods that are fresh and easily perishable such as vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs, seafood, and meat. The inner aisles of a supermarket usually contain the processed foods that we should all avoid. They have long shelf lives because of the artificial, refined sugars, refined carbohydrates, and refined sodium they contain, among other ingredients that are too complicated to understand. Just look on the ingredients of any food item you are thinking of buying in the inner aisles – you want to avoid trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, MSG or monosodium glutamate, high sodium, and anything that is refined.
What you should include in your real food diet are foods that are high in omega 3, such as seafood particularly salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring. Grass-fed beef and meats are important because it means that the cows or animals were fed a natural diet, which is better for their health and in turn, provides better quality meats for us that are free of disease or hormones. Pasture-raised cows and poultry is important in a real food diet because it means that the animals were allowed to roam freely, again minimizing the disease potential and free radicals in the beef or poultry that we are eventually going to eat. Relatedly, wild fish is better than farm-raised fish.
Here is a list of what you should incorporate incorporate into your diet should you decide to adopt a real food lifestyle:
-eat lots of foods with FIBER and Omega 3s
-eat lots of fruits and vegetables
-organic or raw milk
-free range chicken
-pasture raised or grass fed cows/meat
-wild fish versus farm-raised fish
-cod liver oil (great supplement)
-coconut oil (for cooking)
-unrefined sea salt (instead of table salt)
-flaxseed oil and/or ground flaxseed (see Skinny Smoothie post for usage of flax seed)
-brown rice and/or wild rice
-100% whole grains (be careful to read the packaging – 12 grain bread is NOT 100% whole grain)
-olive oil and vinegar for salads (versus bottled salad dressing)
-NO boxed cereal but rather granola or certain cereals (see my post on Gluten-Free for German muesli I eat as my cereal of choice)
These are just some examples of items that are commonly incorporated in a real food diet. Adopting a real food lifestyle will actually give you MORE time to do other things instead of having to slave away in the kitchen to prepare your meals. Because the idea is to eat foods in their most natural form, you don’t have to mix too many ingredients together or cook anything too long. This diet is similar to the Paleo diet, which reverts back to a time when people lived in caves and had to forage for their food. They obviously had no supermarkets back then and led simple yet healthy diets.
As I continue on my committed journey to become a certified nutritionist, I will be referring to a lot of books and articles that I read along the way. A book I just finished reading is “Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food” by Christine Avanti, CN. It is an informative 300-page book with an amazing real food recipe section and color photos in the back. One recipe I particularly love is the Heirloom Mac n’ Cheese muffins. Yes, these muffins sound bad for you but are made with whole wheat pasta, whole wheat flour, tomatoes, and Gruyere cheese, along with other real food ingredients like olive oil and sea salt.
See? Real food doesn’t have to be boring or plain!
In case you don’t have time to read the book yourself, most of the important take-aways are summarized above in terms of things to include in your “real food” diet. Going forward, I will be mentioning nutrition/food books I have finished reading and summarize important take-aways from each. Hope this helps! =)