August 14, 2020Categories: Diet Changes
Browsing through the grocery store shelves you'll find all kinds of sales gimmicks that make you think the products are "natural" or "whole" or any number of other words that lead us to believe that what they're selling is good and healthy for us.
The Basics of Real Food:
If that isn't enough for you, and you know there's something just not quite right, then it might be time to consider digging a bit deeper into what it really means.
To start with, it's going to be a process that you'll put into place over time.
Real food isn't defined nearly as literally as something like "fat free" or "dairy free". It's more like an attitude you take with food, and how it's grown, how it's transported, how the environment is affected by it's production, etc. Many of these topics are controversial with extreme views on either side. That means you'll need to put your own personal ethics and values into the decisions you make about what you'll call Real food. Those decisions will likely change over time, especially if you choose to explore various perspectives, and learn something that changes your mind about how Real something is in your mind.
You'll also need to consider that some food may be Real, but it doesn't agree with you. Such as if you have Celiac disease, no matter how wholesome and natural a bag of wheat flour is, you still can't eat it. The same would be if you have a dairy allergy. No matter how kindly the cow was treated, with lush endless organic pastures that it feeds on, you still won't be able to eat dairy products.
Consider Your Own Situation:
This should be something to really keep in mind when you hear other people tell you about some Real food they love. They don't know your personal needs. It might have been something that helped restore their health, and they might even shout it from the rooftops and think everyone should eat that miracle food. But that doesn't mean it will be good for you.
This also applies to some of the strict eating lifestyles out there, such as vegan, keto, low fodmap, etc. Some of them may be useful for a short period of time, but virtually none of them will serve you for your entire life. Most of the time we can take parts of each of these that serve us, and either discard the rest or use them only occasionally, for a specific purpose. The eating styles that are trendy also are filled with a lot of packaged foods. If your goal is to move towards a Real food diet, it's unlikely you'll want very much packaged food.
Consider Your Motives:
Another consideration is if a big part of your goal in moving to a Real food diet is for health. For some people, there will be less focus on health and more about ethical decisions. But if health is a big part, then what you consider will need a bit of a different focus.
When Health is the Motivation:
One of the first criteria in eating healthy is if you actually feel physically better with your food choices.
As strange as it sounds, this is extremely overlooked in our current culture. Let's dig a little into why this is.
You've probably seen some of the special health seals and logos splattered all over things that are just ridiculous. Cookies with heart healthy seals. Soda pop with GMO free logos. Candy with gluten free emblems. These are purely for marketing. Unfortunately many people are given the impression that these foods are actually healthy. They are not encouraged to actually check if they feel better eating them.
If you're consciously choosing to question what you eat, with the goal of eating more Real food, that improves or maintains your health, you'll need to look beyond those marketing seals and logos. You'll need to pay attention to how you feel.
Making Progress Over Time:
If you have a lot of health issues, this can take a while, but you can still make progress. If you happen to be eating 100 different foods, or forms of that food, that are hurting you, you may not feel better until you've removed, or changed the form of, most or all of those foods. That's the main reason why making this change is a process, and not a hard and fast destination.
This is also one of the reasons I encourage everyone to learn about WHY some foods, or additives, or forms of a food, are good and bad. It's often easy to find out why something is good for us, or safe for us to consume. It can be a lot harder to find why something is bad. The opposite can also be true for some foods. Unfortunately there are often agendas behind whatever is easy to find out, and agendas why it can be hard to find the opposite info. That's why it's important to look at all sides, and make your own informed decisions.
If your goal is to be healthy then I'd also encourage you not to get too attached to your decisions. You do not have to BELIEVE something with all your heart. It's fine to act on the available info, and if you ever learn something different, you just adjust and move on. If you have not become attached to the info, it's much, much easier to just let go of bad or old info. The way I think of it is that everything I learn goes on the "Info Pile." I don't have to believe it or disbelieve it. It's just info. Over time I learn new things, and they may validate or discredit something else I learned in the past. I can act on that new info and make adjustments and see if it holds true for me or not.
This is also a great way to keep info that you don't know what to do with. You just stick it on the "Info Pile" and years later you'll learn something new and a big light bulb will go off in your head. You make connections that are priceless.
Moving towards eating more Real can be a fun and enjoyable practice, if you look at it as a journey. With a good attitude you'll be able to enjoy new foods you've never had, and learn how to make more foods from scratch, that usually taste a lot better, and are easy once you learn how to do them.
These are examples of dishes where the flavor is so much better than any canned soup. The first time you make them it takes some effort and time since it's new, but once you've done it a few times, you can make it at the same time as you cook your regular meals. If you ever had a grandparent or relative who always had stuff on the stove or in the crockpot, that's an example of how they made so many different home cooked meals and still had time for all the other things going on in their lives. With practice you can do the same thing!
Get cooking and get started on your Real food journey - eat and enjoy!