10 Steps Back to Real Food and 5 Benefits to Enjoy!
1. Start where you are
Like any real journey, you must start where you are. Anyone can step back to eating real food and some will need to start eating real food. Don’t set a bunch of expectations on yourselves that you are not able to truly accomplish. The journey back to real food is not about getting to perfection, it is about caring for your body by giving it what it needs to thrive. That can take time and small steps that will eventually lead you back. If you are eating out 4 times a week, start with finding restaurants that serve local and fresh foods. Please don’t start with a complete 360 shift to making and buying food that you have never learned to like nor cook. Be honest with yourself and start where you are.
2. Switch your grains
There are several mixed messages about wheat, corn and all grains in between. Look at where you are at. If you consume grains at every meal, the first step is not going to be to eliminate them. The first step is going to be switching them. There are many products packaged as healthy that absolutely have no nutrient value. Wheat bread or even whole wheat bread (unless you bake it fresh from home) is not the grain you want to consume. Look for sprouted whole grain breads (usually in the freezer section) and you will find the closest thing to homemade bread. Look for sourdough, sprouted corn or sprouted rice. Sprouted grains will ensure the most nutrients from your grain and it will allow you to digest it better than others. Quinoa is also a nutrient dense grain (or some even suggest it is more like a seed) that will assist your body towards craving real foods.
3. Increase your greens
This is probably the number one thing that people think about when it comes to getting healthy. Why can’t we eat our greens? I help my clients discover how powerful and delicious greens can truly be in your daily diet. Start with herbs like cilantro, basil and mint. Garnish your food with these fresh tastes and it will begin to shift your cravings. Spinach is an easy green to hide in smoothies or top on pasta to mix and eat. Eating greens doesn’t have to mean that you eat salads at every meal, it can also simply mean adding them to your current foods. Spouts are a nutrient dense food that can be added to sandwiches or main pasta dishes. As you increase greens, you will find that you can begin to enjoy the more bitter and most nutritional greens like kale, arugula, dandelions and chard. Cucumbers, avocados and cruciferous veggies like broccoli will also soon become a helpful variety to your green intake.
4. Read Ingredients not Labels
One of the tools I teach my clients is to read the ingredients on their food packages rather than the food labels or nutritional facts. There are very few laws that lead the labeling in our country and it is so important to look at what is used in your food to determine if it is real. Packaged foods that have 5 ingredients or less is close to being real food. If your first 3 ingredients has sugar, simply put it back and choose something else. By reading the ingredients, you will determine if it has any of the controversial ingredients that can turn your food to fake food. If you are eating real food, you do not need to be worries about calories and such. You simply need to enjoy it!
5. Purchase Local/Organic
If you choose to purchase organic foods, you will avoid so many of the pesticides that contaminate our foods. Look up your local farmers near by and you can often find some of the freshest foods. Your foods will not have to travel as far or risk lower nutrient values when you purchase local and organically. Natural Grocers always serves with local foods and Trader Joe’s is a great store to find your organic foods at a more affordable price.
6. Start Cooking
Cooking can be overwhelming, but google is full of short videos on how to cook almost any food or dish. There are fun food services like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh that will deliver all the ingredients and beautiful recipes with pictures of how to cook right to your doorstep. Grab a neighbor or a friend who can cook and ask them to teach you one dish. Start with eggs, stir fry dishes or simple meats like salmon or chicken. It all starts with one food and anyone can start. When you cook more, you will find yourself buying fresh real food.
7. Packaged Pantry Overhaul
If you are going to start moving back to real food, you want to take a look in your pantry. When you are grabbing for food, do you reach in your pantry or your fridge? Every time we go to the store, usually on a weekly basis, you have a new opportunity to purchase real food. If you don’t buy the packaged items, they will not be in your panty. Start with cereals by switching to gluten free, organic and those with less ingredients. Switch out your canned goods for dry goods. Switch out your oils for healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil and sesame oil. Look at your snacks and switch them for nuts or dried veggies and fruit (make sure no sugar is added and it is JUST veggies or fruit in ingredients) Choose one thing to stop buying like goldfish or pretzels and choose instead to reach for the fridge. This will help eliminate the packaged items that keep you from real food and also make room in your budget for real food.
8. Clean out fridge
Try to use everything in your fridge before buying more food. This will help you to use up the fresh produce or herbs rather than waste them. If something does go bad, keep note of it to know better how to plan your menu next time. You can also use veggies and fruits was compost in your backyard or freeze them for later use. I often take a lot of our veggies that may be going bad and make a veggie broth or use them in a stir fry or soup.
9. Start with one thing
When you start moving back to real food, plan for one thing at a time. If you eat out 5 days a week, cut it back to 2, use paper plates and start with the real foods that you like. You could start with choosing more veggies to your plate, or clean meats or start with plant-based diet to save money. Figure out what is one thing you need start with. Often after that one thing is working, you will see what the next thing to shift to will be. Starting with one thing is the only way anyone can make long lasting changes. What is one place you can start?
10. Swap out your sugars
One huge help for your body to tackle cravings and get back to real food is by swapping out your sugars. Sugars are something I tell my clients to just throw away. You can throw out the processed sugar and replace it with Maple Syrup, Raw Honey and Stevia. Coconut sugar is also a sugar you can use in baking. You can use fruits like banana, organic berries and dates to use in recipes to create the sweet you crave without the toxic overload that processed sugars give to your body. Sugar is something you must be honest about. Sweet is not bad, but the right kind of sweet is key! See more on sugar here , here and here.
- Decrease in sickness
- Increase in Energy
- Shift in cravings
- Resolve of health issues