I am not asking if your food is feeling down in the dumps. Instead, I am talking about the Standard American Diet. The Standard American Diet is a diet that is high in overly processed, nutrient deficient ingredients. These products are high in refined sugars, refined flours, trans-fats, refined sodium, and are loaded with chemicals. Many scientists are linking SAD to many of the chronic health problems of our time such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. We are eating ourselves into an early grave and it is not all our fault! Most of the food choices available in stores are fake food products, loaded with calories for energy for human survival but completely stripped of nutrients to nourish the body. You can overcome the SAD diet by searching out REAL FOOD!!!
What is Real Food?
Real Food can be defined in numerous ways. Real Food is food as close to its natural state as possible. Real Food does not have artificial flavors, colors, chemical preservatives or genetically modified ingredients. Real Food is food that your great-grandmother would recognize as food. Real Food does not have a long list of ingredients that you can not pronounce.
Real Food provides nutrients and nourishment for our bodies. Food that has been created in laboratories has been so highly processed that it has been stripped of the nutrients that nature gave it in the first place. Sure these ‘fake foods’ deliver the calories we need to survive, but these food items are sorely missing the important macro and micro nutrients that help our bodies stay healthy over the long term.
Of course, it would be nice to have everything made from scratch in your own kitchen. It would be a treat if we could walk outside our door, fetch some fresh eggs, fresh vegetables and some fresh milk from a cow, however, that’s not very practical (or even desirable) for many people. We live in a world where we buy food from large grocery stores and eat at restaurants. We are busy people with jobs, families, and activities.
You can choose to go as ‘Real’ as you would like, and as is practical and is friendly to your particular budget. That might be farm fresh everything or packaged food made with Real ingredients! Any step you take towards eating Real Food is a step in the right direction!!!!
Let me lay out some ground rules for you:
- Choose whole food, 1 ingredient, when possible. Fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat etc.
- Try to buy organically grown, hormone free, antibiotic free, etc. as you can find and your budget allows. But remember, conventional fruits and veggies are better than none at all!!!
- If you are buying packaged food, try to buy food with 5 ingredients or less (this is a general rule of thumb).
- Can you pronounce the ingredients in the food? Could you, theoretically, have these items in a kitchen? If yes, it’s Real Food. If no, it’s probably not Real Food.
- We love Michael Pollan’s rule “Don’t eat anything that will not eventually rot.” There are exceptions like honey, but you get the idea!
- Try to avoid heavily processed foods. This is food that has been taken very far from its original form.
- Avoid refined sweeteners such as sugar, corn syrup, cane juice and artificial sweeteners. Use sweeteners sparingly and try to use those that are nutrient dense such as maple syrup, coconut sugar, and honey.
My experience with this was a little hysterical. I watched Robyn O’Brien’s TED talk and proceeded to completely empty my cupboards, fridge, and freezer of every fake food I could find. I was completely forced to find better options. It was a tad stressful, but it was necessary for me to rip off the band-aid and get it done!
Now I recommend that people make simple swaps, one at a time. If you drink low-fat or skim milk, replace it with a whole version. If you use vegetable oils, throw them away and instead use olive oil and coconut oil. Simply take one food you enjoy, and replace it with a better option. Before you know it you will have a READ FOOD kitchen.
Along with my drastic food purge, my 4-year-old son at the time was really curious as to why he couldn’t have his Cheerios and goldfish anymore. I simply said that we were having different things for breakfast now. And I replaced his goldfish with real food snacks I knew he already enjoyed.
The swap, while challenging considering the way I did it, has been one of the best things we have done for our family. If you are confused about where to begin, this article, Choosing More Nourishing Ingredients, might be helpful for you!
Have you made changes like this already in your kitchen? Are you chomping at the bit to get started? If so, which ingredient will you attack first?