If you’ve been around the internet anywhere near articles and websites dealing with healthy eating and food, you’ve likely seen the terms “real food” or “whole foods” thrown around a lot. I’ve found that these terms can mean many different things, to different people. Overall, the goal is similar, but how each person chooses to change their diet to “real foods” is a personal decision.
This means that what I do for my family may, or may not work for your family – and that’s ok! I share what we do so that people who are curious and/or have no clue where to start can take baby steps to work whole foods into their life, and weed out the processed stuff.
This may end up that you are 100% whole/real foods and never buy a processed item again – that’s great! That’s not where we are at currently, but I think its a fantastic goal and way to live. Others reading this will be lucky if they can simply cut out high fructose corn syrup only. That’s great too! Any step that you can take to put better food into your body is a great thing to do. Don’t let “being perfect” discourage you from taking steps in the right direction [this goes for many aspects of life]!
How I Define Real Food
So here’s how I define something as Real Food:
- Vegetables, Fruits, Fresh Meat in their natural state
- Packaged items that:
- Have few ingredients
- Have ingredients that are made from whole/real foods
- Do not have ingredients that I can’t find to make something in my own kitchen
- Consists of Whole Grains and Unrefined Sugars
- Whole Fat Dairy
- Natural Oils and Fats [olive, butter, coconut, lard, etc]
So what this means is that we DON’T eat:
- Packaged veggies with added “sauce”
- Processed meats that contain nitrates/nitrites [or other non-real food additives]
- Anything with: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated/Partially Hydrogenated Oils, Chemical Preservatives, Artificial Colors/Flavors
- White Sugar [or any refined sugar] and Artificial Sweeteners [this includes highly processed Stevia and Agave syrup in my book]
- Processed Flours
- Low Fat Dairy
- Highly Processed Oils [no: soybean, corn, canola, etc]
These lists touch on the basics of what we eat. I know they are not all inclusive to “real food”, but its what we personally do. I will also say that even though this list is labeled “what we don’t eat”, we are far from perfect. In fact I have a whole shelf of sweet treats in our pantry that has candy filled with hydrogenated oils, artificial colors & flavors, and refined sugar. That said – these are items that are definite treats for us here, and are rarely eaten. Instead we primarily focus any “treats” on cookies made with butter and whole grain flour, or homemade snack bars made with oats and unrefined sugar.
I’d love to hear about your journey with real food and what it means to you! If you have any questions on anything listed here, please comment below or send me a message.