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People choose to eat a real food diet for different reasons. For some, it is about gaining health by avoiding the chemical additives that are found in highly processed, factory packaged foods. For others, it is about losing weight to reclaim health. No matter what your reason, it is all about a healthier lifestyle.
Eating this way is about eating foods that are in their natural state, or as close to it as possible. This means incorporating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fermented foods, pasture-fed raw dairy, and organic pasture-fed meats and seafood. It is about cutting out unhealthy fats and replacing them with healthy fats, including saturated fats that are vital for brain health, hormone production, and detoxification.
Every person who adopts a whole foods lifestyle has to make a choice about what level they will follow this way of eating. This way of eating gives the body far more nutrients than a diet of junk food. And it is the way of eating that must take place if you are looking to reverse chronic illness or nagging symptoms.
Here are the guidelines for eating a nutrient rich, real food diet:
Get rid of the white flour!
This flour has little nutritional value and should be avoided completely. It is best to use whole grains that have been prepared traditionally through soaking, sprouting, or fermentation (sourdough). Grains can cause a significant amount of digestive issues, but soaking, sprouting, or fermenting them can reduce digestive issues…and it makes the nutrients in the grain easier for the body to absorb and use. For some, it’s better to avoid grains altogether, especially if food intolerances are present.
Avoid processed white sugar
Replace regular granulated sugar with natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, Stevia, coconut or palm sugar/nectar, and Sucanat (sugar cane natural). The idea is to limit these sweeteners so that you can prevent blood sugar imbalances, but they are not off-limits for most people. There are some real food eaters who choose to avoid sweeteners altogether.
Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies!
When it comes to vegetables and fruits, fresh is always best. Check your local farmer’s market or organic grocer for large selections of great produce. So what if you can’t eat fresh all of the time? As I said before, you have to choose the level of real food eating that you follow. The next best choice for produce is the frozen variety. But I add a caveat…..read the label! A lot of frozen fruit has added sugar and you also want to avoid veggies that have any added sauces. Look for as few ingredients as possible. I have a package of frozen organic strawberries that has one ingredient…..strawberries! That is real food, frozen fruit!
So, what about canned fruits and veggies? It is really best to avoid them if possible since many cans are lined with BPA, a toxic plastic. For those who really don’t want to do without using some, it is really important to read labels. I was shocked and a bit disgusted at how many canned veggies contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup! Yikes!! Canned veggies that have seasonings (including salt) often contain sugar too.
I’ve found that unsalted varieties are often just veggies and water. You can add a little sea salt while cooking. With canned veggies, look for those without added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Canned fruit packed in juice or water is the best bet. Also, look for a brand that uses BPA-free linings in their cans. Some brands like Eden Foods have stopped using it, and carry a line of canned beans, tomatoes, fruits, and more.
Can’t afford all organic produce? Follow EWG.org’s “Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen“.
Become a label reading expert
You are the only one that can control what you put in your body. And you will be shocked to see just how many chemical additives and artificial coloring and flavors fill your favorite foods. If you read a label and don’t know what it is, then it’s probably not healthy for you.
Enjoy quality meat
You can still enjoy plenty of meats when eating real food, but if you can, purchase from local farmers and stay away from pre-packaged, store-bought meat (you never know what’s in there). If your wallet really can handle it, look for organic, free-range, grass-fed meats and eggs that are antibiotic-free. These are the healthiest types of meats, but they are definitely the most expensive. Do stay away from highly-processed meats, such as packaged lunch meat and hot dogs. There are some lunch meats and hot dogs that are nitrate-free and are cleaner and you can find them at many grocery stores now. It’s all about reading the labels!
If you are free from food intolerance to it, you can have dairy. But it is much better to choose raw first, than non-homogenized varieties. If you have to choose store-bought, go for whole milk (not organic, which has been ultra-pasteurized). So it’s okay to have a glass of milk. Cheese, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese are all fine. Just make sure that they are pure, and have no additives.
Drink plenty of water!
It is so important to keep your body hydrated, so get yourself some good spring water (or any filtered water…it’s best to avoid tap water if you can because of added chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride).
Add fermented foods
Fermented foods are a great way to introduce more gut-friendly bacteria! Consuming them can help to heal an unhealthy gut and keeps a healthy gut functioning well. Kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchee, and other fermented foods are great ways to add more probiotics into your diet.
Remember, it’s all about fewer ingredients and eating food in as pure a form as possible. If your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as an ingredient don’t eat it!
It’s perfectly okay to transition to a whole foods diet gradually. That’s what I did and it worked very well for me.
Enjoy your new way of eating!