Alright peeps, today I’m here to talk about eating real food…and let me just tell you, there’s more to it than merely salads!
I think without a doubt the two biggest things that keep people from embracing real food are #1) not truly realizing how horrible the “food” most Americans eat today (aka the SAD—standard American diet) is for our bodies and how it is NOT designed to nourish and sustain us, and #2) not having a clue where to begin. I plan on doing a post on the former soon, but today I’d like to tackle the latter. Truthfully, it won’t be a tackle at all, because the subject of real food isn’t nearly as intimidating as many have made it out to be. It need not be confusing or unapproachable, so let’s take a couple minutes (that’s all it’s going to take) and break it down.
Just to quickly summarize, I believe in order to define what real food is we need to look at what food’s role is. As much as we’d all like to think it doesn’t, food plays a deeper role for us than simply that of making us happy (*wink*). And while real food absolutely, positutely, blow-your-socks-off tastes AMAZING (just think homemade bread vs store bought!), it goes much further than that.
It delights, it satisfies…but most importantly, it brings life.
Without food, where would all be? We’d be dead. So it’s not an exaggeration to say it’s vitally important to choose foods that help build our bodies up and not tear them down. We use food to help our bodies do what they’re meant to do—and that is live healthy, energetic, pain-free lives.
Sounds like a good deal to me.
You betcha. So, what are we waiting for?
At the risk of sounding like a *slight* know-it-all, I’m going to use my own diet, if you will, as an example of what a real food lifestyle looks like and where to begin with moving toward one. I’m not claiming to have it all figured out, and I’m certainly not ignorant to all the controversy that exists around the topic of healthy eating these days, but I can say with certainty that a lot of evaluation, thought, care, and reevaluation has gone into the way that I eat to make it as effective, exciting, and balanced as possible. It has proven successful for me, and I know it will for you too if you give it a shot! Believe me, there is no feeling like the feeling of being nourished by REAL food!
I’ll admit my eating habits are considered by some to be quite a bit on the odd side, and that’s something I’ve had to learn to deal with. But quite frankly, I love the way I eat. My family and I have experienced incredible breakthroughs in our health since we’ve committed to that way, and I am more than confident in it.
Don’t get me wrong, we used to eat unhealthy. Now, granted, we didn’t think we were eating unhealthy, but the truth is we were. It wasn’t until Yah got a hold of us at the end of the year 2012 that we began to see things differently. Since then we have done loads of research on the topic of healthy eating and have happily settled into a routine of what works well for us. We try our best to stay away from processed foods of nearly all kinds, we make most of our meals homemade, and we regularly include probiotic super foods in our diet such as milk kefir and kombucha tea/soda.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that in health food circles today, there are about 465,768,799,685,687,978 different opinions and just as many diet plans and “labels”. I personally don’t adhere to any one of those particular “labels”. I do not eat exclusively vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-/grain-/dairy-/nut-free or anything like that, because I honestly believe that while each of those diets are excellent tools to use temporarily to help facilitate detoxification and healing within our bodies, they are not suited for long term nutritional sustenance. (Although I do enjoy making recipes that fall within those categories because I find many of them to be extremely creative and delicious! And if healthy food can’t be delicious then, seriously, what’s the point? Ha!) If there’s one thing I’m all about, it’s redefinition over exclusion. I believe it is far, far more important (as in, I can’t stress how much so!) to “redefine” the food we eat by paying attention to its quality—the ingredients it contains, how it is made, etc.—rather than becoming exclusive with those foods. Just as a quick example, it’s all the buzz today that animal products such as meat and dairy are horrible for us. Really? Is it the meat and dairy that are the problems…or how most meat and dairy is produced these days? The issue of redefinition over exclusion is yet another topic I plan to devote a post specifically to in the future. That having been said, there is only one set of food which I completely avoid with strictness. These are the “foods” (really they can’t even be considered as such!) that Yah tells us in His Word never to eat. You’ll see these listed below. More on why I choose to abstain from these items coming soon as well.
While it’s true that there’s no one eating plan that will work for everyone, getting away from what I like to call counterfeit food is an excellent place to start, and you really can’t go wrong by doing so! This is exactly what I have attempted to do in my life and through this list. If you’re new to this and not sure where to start, I’d recommend you begin by cutting out the foods listed in the first column. Our bodies were not made to process these foods and getting away from them completely is one of the very the best things you can do for your health. Then, as you feel comfortable, begin reducing the amount of foods/ingredients within the second column that you eat. Perhaps you’ll begin with just cutting out two or three of them—that’s super! After a while and with a little practice reading labels, avoiding certain ingredients will become like second nature to you. Pretty soon, you won’t even have to think about it. Seriously! You’ll quickly learn the foods that they’re most commonly in and that will make it so much easier when you’re eating out or at parties. Not to mention it’ll make it easier to spot great opportunities to bring your own healthy versions of your favorite foods! Dessert night with friends? Why not show up with a batch of rich, fudgy homemade grain-free brownies? Your friends will love you for it.
As you’re ready, continue to proceed in this manner until you’ve found what works for you. The more foods/ingredients you avoid within the first two columns below, the better you’ll feel! Believe me, it’s not as hard as it looks. And most importantly, it’s not about being militant. I travel often, so I tend to be somewhat relaxed about what I put into my mouth (with the exception of the things in the first column as I mentioned above). I love to eat (*wink wink*), so it’s important to me that I enjoy my food, and while I actually enjoy my wholesome, real foods far better than I do those which are more processed, if on a given day enjoying my food means going out to lunch with a friend and being a bit more laid back about it than I would be at home, then that’s okay with me. If there’s anything real food is about, it’s consistency rather than perfection! If I find that my body’s trying to tell me I’ve gone on overload (i.e. I’m feeling sluggish, my skin isn’t as clear as normal, stuff like that) then I’ll go for a week and be as strict as I can about my eating.
Lastly, I’d highly recommend you start adding a daily dose of milk kefir into your eating routine (¼ cup per day to start, working up to a whole cup a day). Without going into detail on this little nutritional powerhouse, it is an absolute necessity in transitioning toward real food. Not only is it filled with essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids (organic compounds which bond within the body, helping to form strong muscle tissue), and living enzymes, it’s also brimming with beneficial bacteria and yeasts that your body—specifically your gut—need to thrive. If you’ve been on the SAD (standard American diet) for more than a week, you need kefir. It will greatly aid your body in detoxing, help restore needed balance to your digestive system, and ultimately soothe your entire body from the inside out! Yeah, it’s that good. I really can’t say enough awesome things about this stuff; it will basically change your life. Ha! 😉 Thankfully, it’s super easy to make at home (tutorial coming soon). And if you’re lactose intolerant, no worries—kefir can simply be made a certain way so that you’ll be able to tolerate it! So that means no excuses…mmmkay? Get yourself on some kefir…NOW!
Oh, sorry…I kinda have a thing for kefir. Anyway, enough on that—here’s the famous list you’ve been waiting for! Items marked with an asterisk (*) are ones that I try to buy organic whenever possible for various reasons (usually pesticide, artificial hormone/steroid, antibiotic, and/or GMO concerns). It is not my intent to be exhaustive by any means, so I won’t go into the specific reasons behind why I eat or don’t eat each of the foods listed, but trust me when I say that nothing has made it onto one of these lists through easy admission! Based on the Bible’s governing principles and the research I’ve done concerning food, it’s role in nourishing the body, and what kinds vibrantly sustained our ancestors before us, there is much consideration that goes into the things which make it to my mouth! So without further ado:
FOODS I NEVER EAT
- Pork (this includes pork sausage/bacon/hot dogs, lard, and gelatin [unless it’s specified kosher gelatin])
- Seafoods which do not possess both fins and scales (this includes shrimp, shellfish, squid, fish such as catfish, etc.)
- All other “foods” listed in Leviticus 11 of the Bible which aren’t as common, such as animals with a paw (rabbit, cat) and scavenger birds (owl, vulture)
FOODS I TRY HARD TO AVOID
- White/refined flour(s)
- White/refined sugar(s)
- Refined table salt
- Refined vegetable oils (veggie, canola, peanut, cottonseed, etc.)
- Anything hydrogenated
- Corn syrup
- Artificial sweeteners
- Food dyes (unless they’re specified fruit/veggie dyes)
- Monosodium glutamate (aka MSG, artificial flavor(s)(ing), natural flavor(s)(ing), flavor(s)(ing), seasoning(s)(ing), spice(s), extract(s), hydrolyzed protein, bouillon, and the list goes on)
- Anything which has been microwaved
- Anything I can’t pronounce or recognize!
FOODS I STILL EAT BUT WOULD LIKE TO EVENTUALLY ELIMINATE FROM MY DIET
- Pasteurized dairy products
- Non-organic dairy products
- Grains, nuts, seeds, and beans which have not been soaked, sprouted, or fermented
- Anything from a can (unless it was canned at home)
FOODS I REGULARLY ENJOY
- Homemade milk kefir*
- Raw cow’s and goat’s milks
- Kombucha tea/soda (sometimes homemade, sometimes store bought)
- Herbal and green teas
- Homemade almond milk
- Homemade coconut milk
- Fresh/frozen fruits and veggies*
- Real, aged cheese* (raw is my favorite)
- Real butter*
- Eggs (fresh, free range eggs from friends whenever possible)
- Beef (mostly grass-fed)
- Unrefined coconut oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Homemade salad dressings (they taste WAY better than the bottled stuff)
- Homemade bread
- Nuts/nut butters
- Grains such as oats, wheat, quinoa (my personal favorite!), and brown/black/red rice
- Almond flour
- Coconut flour
- Maple syrup (when we buy it)
- Turbinado or Demerara (also just called “raw”) sugar
- Pure stevia (not the kinds which have had fillers and other things added; we use Sweet Leaf brand)
- Chocolate chips (when we buy them) (Enjoy Life is my favorite brand because it’s soy- and dairy-free)
- All kinds of homemade treats and desserts
- Himalayan pink salt
So you see, when broken down, eating real food truly isn’t that difficult. It’s only a matter of knowing where to begin. Like I mentioned above, there’s no one eating plan that will work for every single person. Because of allergies, sensitivities, regional availability of different foods, and plain ol’ personal preference, living the real food life is going to look a little different for each of us. For example, I am able to buy certified organic, unrefined coconut oil in bulk at a local store for a great price, but perhaps where you are good quality coconut oil is difficult to find (my family and I struggled with this for awhile) and real, organic butter is easier to come by. So…go with the real butter and don’t feel bad! As another example, say you’re allergic to nuts so using almond flour to make your baked treats healthier than their commonly ill-prepared wheat counterparts isn’t an option. That’s a perfect opportunity for you to learn how to soak, sprout, and ferment your wheat in order to take it from being a mineral-absorbing trouble food to a delicious, non-damaging one!
Anyway, my point stands that no matter where you are on the food continuum, making the transition to a real food lifestyle is possible. It just takes some determination and a little know-how. Hopefully this post and the lists above have given you a few tools to put to work. Be sure to pin and/or download the real food quick guide above to your computer or phone for easy reference whenever you may need it!
Happy (clean) eating!
How do you approach getting started with real food? Any items in my lists above that you’d be interested in hearing more about?
Just as a disclaimer: Per my mother’s strict orders, no beautifully golden farm-fresh eggs were harmed during the making of this blog post! 😉