food [food] n 1. something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies
real [ree-uhl, reel] adj 1. true and actual; not artificial
Real food is food that is whole, natural and unprocessed. Whole foods are foods that grow, walk, swim or come directly from nature in some way. Foods that are unaltered by man, foods that do not come from a factory, box or bag are whole foods that have the most nutrition. High quality whole foods are foods that are Non-GMO, organically grown without pesticides, grass fed, pastured, antibiotic and hormone free. (Although high quality options are ideal, sometimes it isn’t always feasible, transition to better options as you can. ( See the Dirty Dozen for the most important produce to switch first.) Real food has no additives and chemicals to preserve it, if it will rot on your counter, it is the healthiest food for your body. (Living food promotes life!) While it seems funny to some folks to eat this “weird” way it is important to remember that “organic” food just a few generations ago was not “organic food” it was simply food. I personally believe that the industrialized food system we have created is responsible for overweight, malnourished people. Factory made foods, or faux-foods are often the cause of overeating and vitamin deficiencies because instead of eating something nutritious, floury, sugary foods are being eaten. Junk foods that can not be replicated at home are the #1 thing that everyone should remove from their diet. Eating a D’winkie in place of vegetables, meat, beans, avocados, apples or peanut butter will result in a sugar crash, a carb craving and empty calories your body doesn’t recognize. Your body doesn’t absorb anything from these processed foods, they often have very little nutritional value. Without proper sustenance you crave more, and more, and more, because your body is telling you to EAT.REAL.FOOD.
How Do I Change? – “I can’t change, we’re just so used to it.” Transitioning to a whole foods diet isn’t easy peasy, but it definitely isn’t impossible either. Just five years ago I had no idea about a traditional foods diet. In fact, as a kid I grew up on the Standard American Diet. Coming from a multi-home family meant different kinds of food in each house… both houses relied heavily on processed foods. (As a teenager I lived solely on fast food, chips, soda and frozen foods.) While many people are super critical of the processed lifestyle, I’m very grateful for the home cooked, hot meals we shared together. Although I appreciate being exposed to family meals, the food itself didn’t really prepare me for nourishing my own children “properly.” At the age of seventeen I found myself on my own feeding my soon to be husband and believe me when I say that it was tragic. I knew nothing about food that didn’t come out of a box, we ate lots of instant this or that. I’d seen certain foods prepared, I’d watched the cooking shows, but when it came to home cooked unprocessed foods I was clueless. When my eldest son was born in 2003 my home cooking began. I started making “semi homemade” meals, then I transitioned to preparing less and less from a box. It wasn’t until around 2011 that I really, absolutely started refining our diet to a traditional foods diet. I purchased “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats” and started following the blogs that speak about the nutrient dense diets based on the teachings of Weston A. Price. Although I don’t adhere to these principles 100%, Primal and Traditional diet guidelines are what we focus on the most.
-Switching to a whole foods, unprocessed diet does not have to happen overnight…
My family didn’t have a “serious purge” until 2011. We added raw milk and real eggs, then we removed processed foods, then we focused on the quality of what we were buying by reading every single ingredient on every single label. (while avoiding food with labels as much as possible.) Finally, we began relying on a local farm for the bulk of our staples. My point is that eating clean won’t happen overnight, and everyone eats shit food now and then. Everyone can make the choice to eliminate processed foods by simply introducing more whole foods first. If your skeptical try this…
- Stop buying anything that says “diet” or “low fat.” These foods are some of the worst foods in the market.
- Don’t drink your calories, especially at meal times. Raw milk, kefir, kombucha and fresh juices are healthy, great options for some folks but if you are used to drinking soda (diet or otherwise) you need to try and avoid all liquid nourishment until you are used to a healthier diet lifestyle. Don’t transition to a healthy soda, don’t transition to sparkling juice … drink water !!! (Not drinking juice or milk around meal times is especially important for young children. My sons will both drink big glasses of juice or milk before supper and then whine that they are full.)
- Add a salad and/or fresh vegetables to your nightly routine. Switch your pasta’s to a better quality variety. (I try to primarily buy organic pasta or sometimes rice pasta’s)
- Replace cereals and processed “white bread breakfasts” with fruit, organic cheese, meats and eggs. My kids love porridge and baked oatmeal, one batch will feed my boys for a week or two. I serve leftover meats, rice and eggs at times. Meal time does not necessarily have to represent a standard structure. (If I buy cold cereals I buy them juice sweetened or with basically zero sugars.)
- Pick just one meal a week to cook 100% clean, natural foods that are simply prepared. Kids love things like baked chicken, meatballs, mashed potatoes, lightly roasted vegetables, baked french fries, chocolate pudding and so on. If you learn how to prepare just a few super easy, nourishing meals that your family loves you can replay that meal once a week until you are confident in trying something new . Then make TWO real food meals, then three, then four, then five and so on. I found that trying to rob Man Meat and the boys of their hot dogs resulted in outraged, grumpy kids. We still eat pizza, hot dogs, and even Chinese food on occasion, but most nights we eat clean.
- Add fermented, living foods to your diet and stop using refined sugar. Substitute raw sugar, maple sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey whenever you feel you “need” sweetness.
- Stop buying margarine and vegetable oils!!! (In short, this is how margarine is made.) Don’t be terrified of fat. Animal fats and fats packed with Omega 3’s are incredibly important to the human body. Fats are what support brain tissue and sustain healthy hair, joints and nails. Use REAL butter, coconut oil or animal fat whenever possible. Olive oil, avocado oil, grape seed, sesame, almond, hemp and so on are also good choices. Cheap coconut oil is better than expensive “butter spread.”
“Following a whole food diet involves maximizing your nutrient intake from natural sources and avoiding nutrient-poor processed foods. Whole foods mainly include plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits and nuts, and animal foods such as eggs, meat, fish and poultry. “
- Don’t take my word for it. Research and draw your own conclusions.
- If eating clean food for a month doesn’t make you feel better than go back to eating the way you were before. It won’t hurt to try! (If you can follow the whole30 routine, give it a try, it has helped me a lot.)
For my family it took almost ten whole years to end up where we are now. I mostly avoid instant, convenience foods. (Instant Food = Instant Fat and Long term health problems.) Transitioning to a whole foods diet made treat foods well, treats. If it takes two days to prepare buns for our hamburgers, we enjoy them more. If I prepare a homemade cake from wholesome ingredients, it is a process that takes time. Instant, convenience foods are the foods that we try to avoid. If it’s not in the house, we can’t eat it.
– Our Whole Food Staples Are –
- Raw milk + Cheese, Raw Milk Kefir, Raw 24 Hour Yogurt (Coconut Milk when real milk isn’t available)
- Real Eggs From Pastured Chickens
- Healthy Fats (almost always organic if possible) -butter, Coconut oil, homemade lard, homemade tallow, olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, red palm oil . Even if I purchase certain produce or meats conventional, I always avoid fats from conventional sources.
- Fruits and Vegetables – Onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, cabbage, broccoli, apples, bananas, blueberries, and cherries are what we have around the most. We almost always have these things due to availability of frozen produce, and a stocked pantry from canning season. (the cupboard always has homemade tomato sauce, salsa, applesauce, fruit conserves, pickles and relish) I also store dried and freeze dried produce for long term storage and convenience.
- Natural Meat- Chicken, Ground Beef and home butchered venison are our MVP’s. No Hormones and No Antibiotics, whenever possible. Salmon is a healthy favorite of mine but I don’t prepare it as often as I probably should. Seafood that is sustainable can be hard to afford.
- Bone Broth- I always have bone broth available. I make about 6 quarts at a time and use broth to prepare our soups, stews, beans and casseroles.
- Starch: Basmati Rice & Potatoes are served around here most nights.
- Nuts & Nut Butters- My oldest son has nut allergies but I’m pretty sure my younger sons think that cashews are a food group. I make homemade almond butter, but purchase organic peanut butter that is additive free. The ingredients should be peanuts and salt. (NO SUGAR!)
- Organic Pop Corn & Tortilla Chips- These are convenience foods we often have on hand. I serve chips with homemade fermented salsas, guacamole or organic store bought salsa.
- Grains- Properly soaked whole wheat baked goods are a necessity for us. They are comforting and I can buy organic whole grains in bulk to save money on organic. (I bulk buy organic red and white wheat kernels and oats.) I bake primarily with fresh milled flour and very little refined sugars or refined flours. When we eat pasta, we eat “white” pasta because it is affordable, readily available. ( My family hates whole wheat or sprouted. Its also much more expensive to buy these varieties) Occasionally we do gluten-free pastas.
- Beans- DRY BEANS are an amazing, affordable way to really stretch a budget. With an instant pot available, beans have become easier and easier to prepare. I always soak beans overnight.
- Herbs, Spices and Condiments- Leafy dry spices and herbs should be purchased organic whenever possible. I am always aware of labels, I always look for preservatives and thickeners such as corn starch, cellulose or silicon dioxide.