Real Food Made Simple: Making The Switch

Healthy Eating

Eating can be complicated.  What is "real" food?  Should I eat carbs?  Should I go vegan? (more on plant-based eating in an upcoming post)  When I first decided to switch to eating a diet consisting only of whole food I thought that it wouldn’t be hard because we rarely eat processed food.  Or so I thought.  When you really think about what you buy, it’s amazing to see that, sure enough, processed food is in my home.  I think we get so blinded by what we shop for week after week that we lose sight of the fact that our refrigerators, freezers and cupboards are filled with foods that aren’t whole.

I’ve always done a majority of our grocery shopping from the outer edges of the store but the reality is I was still filling my cart with processed items in the aisles.  Boxed pasta using white flour, salsa’s and dips using refined sweeteners, yogurt (read the ingredients, some of them are awful), crackers, and the list goes on.  While we weren’t eating what I thought of as prepared or processed foods, we were actually eating exactly that.

Switching has not been easy and my husband is still a hold out on a few things – he eats chips, sweetened iced tea, lunch meat, hot dogs, boxed mac & cheese, packaged cheese dip, and white pasta and rice.  I’ve gotten him to switch his bread over (thank you Dave’s!!) but he’s digging his heels in about the pasta and rice. 

I haven’t given up – I will keep trying to sway him to the other side......  I make two different meals anyway (mine primarily plant-based and his with meat), so he gets to keep his small selection of processed food.

For now.

What is “real” or “whole” food?
(I prefer whole but I know the term real food is popular right now)

This is the number one question!  It is food that is in its natural state.  I would say “unprocessed”, however, most food purchased at the grocery store is processed (bagged spinach or canned beans, for example).

It incorporates fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, grass fed pastured meat, seafood, dairy products, natural sweeteners (in moderation),  fats (in moderation), and eggs; and excludes synthetic things such as highly refined foods like bleached flour (and products containing it) and refined sugar (and products containing it).

Breaking It Down:
Fruits & Vegetables – preferably in season and grown locally (where possible).
Whole Grains – including, but not limited to, brown rice, oats, whole-wheat flour, rye flour, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, and millet.
Legumes – including beans, nuts, peas and lentils.
Grass-Fed Pastured Meat  - all parts of the animal.
Seafood – wild is preferred over farmed.
Dairy – raw and/or full fat including milk, kefir, cheese, sour cream, yogurt & cottage cheese.
Natural Sweeteners – including raw local honey, date sugar, agave, & maple syrup.
Fats – including extra virgin olive oil (first cold processed), unrefined coconut oil, tallow, lard & butter from grass-fed cows.
Eggs – from pastured chickens.

How To Make The Switch?
As with any change, baby steps are the easiest.

1. Go through your family’s favorite meals (if you’re also meal planning, you’ve got the list!!) and see if you can alter any that currently use ingredients not listed in the whole foods list above.  Make a list of all recipes you can continue to make with adaptations.

2. Try switching a few meals a week until you’re comfortable finding recipes, shopping for ingredients, and adjusting you and your family’s taste buds.

3. Make small changes:
     a. switch out most of the white flour in recipes with whole wheat flour (I like white whole wheat flour and I also like to substitute 1 Tablespoon of liquid in homemade bread recipes with fresh orange juice - it seems to counterbalance that whole wheat flavoring)
     b. increase vegetables at mealtime and decrease meat
     c. switch some of your meat and dairy products to grass-fed
     d. find soda alternatives
     e. switch out sweeteners in some of your recipes with real food-approved sweeteners

4. Ask your family to commit to a 2 week challenge of eating only foods that meet the real foods definition above.

5. Go through your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to make a list of processed ingredients that won’t be a part of your new lifestyle so you can try to use them up over the next week or two.

6. Set time aside, once a week, to prep veggies, etc. making it easier to craft homemade meals.  Eating out can be challenging, so preparing home-cooked meals for the first few weeks as you transition is key to the success.

7. Find alternatives.  Lifestyle changes fail when people feel deprived or like they'll never be able to have something again.  Try to seek out healthy alternatives to whatever food or drinks are your families' favorites.

8. Continue slowly introducing whole food into your family's diet, switching things out as you can.

Healthy Eating

1 comment

Unknown said...

Very helpful to me! Thank you for the info and insight!