How do you even begin to start with Real Food? It can be so overwhelming, especially if you are used to eating processed foods and are just beginning to rethink your diet lifestyle.
I remember making the transition and being a bit overwhelmed! I am a person who likes to dive headfirst and do it all but changing the way my family eats was a lot of work. I changed small things, and as momentum built, found it easier to change more and more.
Oh Lardy has some great information in our Getting Started page, which I hope you have already checked out!
Here are some other simple steps that helped my family make the transition:
Keep it Simple
We can totally overwhelm ourselves with thoughts of nutrients, organic, natural, healthy…Eeek! What do I do? Remember, Real Food is simple food, less processed food.
Look for whole foods (foods with one ingredient), and packaged foods with short ingredient lists of food (5 or less is always a good rule) you can pronounce.
Educate yourself about our food industry and food products. There are so many great books out there about Real Food. I love to read about these topics and devour any and all books on Real Food.
Once I read Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food there was no stopping me! But if you want to keep it super simple to start, two good resources to break it down are: Michael Pollan’s Food Rules or Weston A. Price Foundation's Healthy 4 Life brochure (download for free here or order a copy here.)
Start eating more fruits and vegetables
You don't even have to think about these…they are real foods!! Have cut up fruits and veggies on hand in the fridge. Seriously, if we all doubled our vegetable intake, there would not be as much room for processed junk. Green veggies are particularly nutritious!
Visit a farmer’s market and buy what is in season. Put out a veggie platter before dinner. I find when I do this (silently, not making a big deal about it), my hubby and daughter snack on vegetables while dinner is being prepped. If I had asked “Hey who wants vegetables?” I would have gotten a big, fat “NO”. But I put it out, sometimes with a little hummus or homemade ranch, and voila…they eat vegetables.
Get rid of the big junk foods
Ditch the candy, soda, things that are completely fake foods. If it isn’t in the pantry or the refrigerator, no one can eat it, at least while they are at home.
Real foodify your recipes
Take your family favorite recipes and make them more nourishing. You don’t have to overwhelm yourself with starting from scratch, finding new recipes, etc.
Most recipes can be made with better ingredients! Your famous spaghetti and meatballs? Read your ingredient labels and choose better ingredients (real tomatoes or pureed tomatoes in a carton, grass fed beef or pastured pork, whole wheat pasta, etc.). Voila, you haven't done anything too different, just changed the quality of your ingredients!
Raid your pantry and read labels
How long are your ingredient labels? Could you find better packaged foods with smaller labels? For example, if you are eating (insert bad cracker), check out Triscuits. They have 3 ingredients: whole grain wheat, soybean oil and salt. Now, I don't think Triscuits are the best cracker, mainly due to the fact that the soybean oil is GMO, but if you are just starting your Real Food journey or you aren't ready to worry about GMOs, go for it! 3 ingredients (that you can pronounce and define) are WAY better than 15! Reading labels is key!
Switch out one meal at a time
Tackle one meal type each week or month. Start with healthy snacks…fresh produce, healthy yogurt, nuts and dried fruit. Then start with dinners or breakfasts. If you are getting overwhelmed, you don't have to do it all at once! As these habits slowly become ingrained, you will find it easier and easier to add more Real Food to your diet. It will no longer seem so forced.
Freeze fruit and make smoothies
Such a great way to shove a lot of Real Food ingredients in 1 glass. There are so many recipes out there for green smoothies and protein smoothies but don't overthink it! Just throw some frozen fruit, a cup or 2 of spinach, some chia seeds, a brazil nut, maybe some coconut oil or flakes and a good liquid (raw milk, almond milk, yogurt, water etc.) and you have yourself a great snack or breakfast! These smoothie packs make it even easier to have a daily smoothie!
Confused about what you should buy organic? Don't have to budget to buy organic everything? Here are two good lists to help you out: Dirty Dozen (what you should try to buy organic, if you can) and Clean Fifteen (if you can't buy everything organic, these are okay to buy conventional). I have some friends who have printed this out and taped it to their refrigerator.
I prefer to buy organic as much as possible, but when certain products are unavailable, I find myself referring to these lists all the time! Here's a link to the free printable and an app you can download!
Tackle one ingredient at a time
Once you have gotten familiar with reading labels, pick one or two ‘bad' ingredients to focus on. Maybe try to nix the artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup or focus on preservatives and trans fats then tackle the other stuff later. We all have to prioritize and compromise at times. While I am a person who dives right in and tries to do it all, sometimes it is easier to break it down into easier to digest components!
Go easy on yourself
Be easy on yourself…if you mess up, just keep trying. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Use healthy eaters that you know as inspiration. The more reading labels and purchasing Real Food you do, the easier it becomes. Your mindset about food will change and your taste buds will change! I swear!
Do you have any real food tips that have helped you on your Real Food journey?