Folks find nutrition to be confusing.
First, there’s the fact that nutrition is a relatively young science and an evolving area of research which, granted, can lead to changing dietary recommendations.Then, there are the studies reported in mainstream media that, although they make for great headlines, are often loosely related to the original science.
The result? People are “turned off” by all the seemingly conflicting information and are lured by easier ways of eating, “fad” diets, that take out all the guesswork. Just follow the rules, nuance free.
But then again, even diets change, with a new macronutrient ratio or miracle food coming out every other week. So where does this leave you?
Despite the evolving research and the cacophony of nutrition misinformation, there is a way of eating we can all benefit from…and it’s eating real.
I’ve talked about eating real many times, but it struck me that I never actually explained why it was important to me or how you can get started at home. Eating real is at the core of my nutrition approach, but not because of what I learned in school. It actually has a lot more to do with what I learned at home.
I was lucky enough to grow up in an environment where scratch cooking, having a home garden and reusing leftovers to minimize waste, were the norm. So when the concept of real food became mainstream thanks to food writers and thinkers like Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle, I thought:
Well then, looks like Nonna had it right all along.
So today’s video is all about how to get started eating a real food diet. I want to break it down simply, because the goal today is to get you thinking about real food and getting you motivated about getting started.
Getting started with a real food diet
1. Get focused on single ingredient foods
Eating real is about eating foods the way nature delivered them to us. Real food is simple, fresh, whole, unprocessed and unrefined.
Michael Pollan famously wrote: Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Well eating real is just that. It’s about enjoying foods that are the ingredient, rather than foods with lists of ingredients.
So how does this translate onto your plate?
Eating fresh fruit instead of fruit flavoured snacks or juices
Enjoying plain yogurt instead of yogurt-coated granola bars (maybe even homemade yogurt? Big trend right now, but ok, pushing it.)
Eating bright and naturally coloured produce instead of products tinted with artificial dyes
Choosing natural sweeteners like honey or pure maple syrup instead of refined or artificial sweeteners
2. Get curious
Eating real isn’t just about the food itself, but about how you think & treat your food. By getting curious about our food, we open our eyes to the way food can impact our health and the health of the environment. It also fixes the disconnect that has come to exist between eaters and producers.
About what’s in your food, how it was made and how it made its way onto your plate.
Go beyond front-of-package labelling. Read ingredient lists and choose food that meets your (high) standards
By establishing relationships with people at the source; befriend the produce guy at the supermarket or better yet, the farmer at your local farmers’ market
Seek foods with a short trajectory from farm to plate by eating locally
Seek foods produced using methods that reduce environmental harm by exploring organic options
3. Get cooking
Making room for scratch cooking is probably the BEST way to get started with eating real. Enjoying more homemade meals at home with friends and family will help increase your food standards for quality, freshness and flavor. Eventually, your tastebuds won’t want to settle for anything less than real food.
Just get started
It’s one thing to be passionate about food, but I’m not a fan of being preachy. Eating real food is a process, it shouldn’t be dogmatic or it misses the point.
I would rather you consistantly progress towards this way of eating, than do a complete overhaul and regress all the way back to square one.
Just start where you are. The idea is that if you focus on making room for more real food in your diet, there will be less room for the rest.
What does eating real mean to you? How will you get started?
A few real food resources
What to eat by Marion Nestle
Food rules by Michael Pollan
Eat Real Quiz as part of the CSPI’s Food Day initiative
Lisa Leake’s blog 100 Days Of Real Food