6 Tips to Eating Real, Clean Food
Everyday, we have to navigate between nutritional information that is forever changing. GMO’s , pesticides, “calories in calories out”, this diet and that diet, low fat, and nonfat labels bombard us each day to get us to purchase a product. All of these topics are worth discussion in some cases, but my fear is that it is distracting us from what is most important.
I think we can all agree that if we can eat real, clean food, we will find far less problems and be able to live healthy lives. But isn’t everything on the shelves or in our grocery stores real food?
If you took an apple and a snack pack of pretzels that each contain 100 calories and eat them, they will create two different responses in your body. Calories are not equal. What matters is the integrity of what you put in your body.
Real, clean food is an emphasis on quality of the food, not the quantity. It will both fill and fuel you so that it helps with health concerns and weight issues. Often, it will effect not only our health, but influence other life decisions we make to care for ourselves and others.
There are over 10,000 chemicals put into the foods we eat that have never been tested on humans and yet, are labeled as safe. There are over 100,000 scientific studies recorded in journals that prove how real, unaltered foods affect your health and wellness of your body in a positive way. This is why we eat, for the nourishment of our bodies to work and function properly.
Eating real, clean food will regulate blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol and ward off conditions where disease often thrives. Eating real, clean food will help you absorb nutrients like vitamins and minerals that serve as on-switches for our body’s systems to work together.
Here are 6 simple tips to think through if you are looking to eat real, clean food. Pick one and try it, then choose another. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it can effect so many complexities of our life. Set aside all of the distractions that “nutrition” labels can bring before you and simply eat real food. You will avoid toxins and nourish your body for optimal health.
1. Keep it Real
Real food is food which truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities and the earth. It is a food system–from seed to plate–that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice and environmental sustainability. See a diagram here , here and here.
This means your food is grown in nature. The food or its seed is not produced in a lab or a manufacturing factory. Examples include fresh whole fruits,vegetables, grass-fed or free-range meats, whole grains, nuts, seeds and dairy from a grass-fed or pastured cow.
2. Start Cooking
Cooking is the practice or skill of preparing food by combining, mixing, and heating ingredients. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions and trends.
When you begin cooking meals you will add nutrition back into your life by choosing real food ingredients. Restaurants often serve foods that are processed and are over seasoned. Cooking can also be an outlet for creativity and making memories with family or friends.
- Start with simple things and work into a system.
- Grab someone you know who cooks and let them teach you!
- Join a cooking class! Contact my friend and health coach, Juli Heinen for cooking classes! She has been a professional chef for over 22 years and helps people start cooking! She will have cooking classes coming up in November and December for some health holiday cooking!
3. Eliminate refined sources
Refined sugars and carbohydrates have been striped of their nutrient value and can no longer be classified as a “real food”. They create inflammation in our bodies. If you are consuming a constant source of them, your body can become chronically inflamed and have a hard time detoxing or staying well. You want to help clean your body by eliminating white sugars and white flours.
This includes white pasta, rice, bread and pastries. Choose instead brown rice, einkorn or sprouted wheat bread and pastas. Make your own pastries using whole grain, almond or coconut flour.
4. Go Organic and Local
Many people use excuses about why they aren’t buying organic. But the truth is that organic food is going to eliminate unnecessary toxins from your diet. I am not advocating for buying all kinds of boxed organic items, but your real fresh food should be organic. You will find that if you eliminate some of your refined sources you will have room in your budget for organic. Use EWG’s clean 15 and dirty dozen list to help start a budget for Organic. Get to know you local farmers who are advocating for you. Choose stores that support local farmers in your area.
Organic farmers are not subsidized for their food like other farmers. It often costs both the non-organic farmer and the organic farmer the same dollar to produce their product. The difference is that the non-organic farmer can sell it to you for a cheaper price because they are given government subsidies. An organic farmer is not only NOT given subsidies, but often has to pay money to the government for certain regulatory fees.
When you get to know a local organic farmer, you may change your mind about where you want your dollar to go and thank them for growing your food without compromising your nutrition. That just may be worth the extra buck.
5. Eat and enjoy from all food groups
When introducing real foods into your routine, you want to look beyond the food pyramid and into the varieties of each food groups. When we eat packaged refined foods or especially sugary foods, we will find ourselves eating the same thing every day.
Even if you have a food allergy or a dietary restriction, when it comes to real food, there is always a variety of options! When you think about eating greens, don’t just reduce yourself to broccoli. Look at herbs like cilantro and basil. Try spinach, kale, or dandelions!
Eating proteins, fats and complex carbohydrates are important to help maintain optimal blood sugar levels. This directly effects any unwanted cravings and brain fog. Some examples of clean proteins are grass-fed meats, fish, tempeh and organic tofu. Your quality fats include avocados, olive and coconut oils, nuts and seeds. Complex carbohydrates are sources like green veggies, quinoa, brown rice and sweet potatoes.
6. Read Ingredients, Not Labels
In the last few decades we have been told that low fat and low calorie is best. I disagree completely. Though the labels continue to push this, many doctors and professionals in nutrition have since disagreed and studies have proven that no calories are the same. We have been taught to read a label from many sources, but if you want to find real, clean food, you have to read the ingredients.
If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, choose something else. There are so many additives and artificial ingredients hidden in food that is labeled as “nutritious”.
The first 3 ingredients of a product are what the food is mostly made of. If a label claims to have “Veggies!” but you see that “spinach powder” is #8 on the ingredient list, then it probably is not the best source of veggies.
When shopping for real food, choose something with 5 ingredients or less or even better, choose something with one ingredient like real milk, an apple or broccoli. I think you get the picture.
If you are looking to eating clean or maintain more energy in your life, click here for a free consultation. I have been able to help clients incorporate these principles and more into their every day life.