I wanted to give an update for how I am proceeding with October Unprocessed, the challenge posed by Andrew Wilder over at Eating Rules. I have been posting some photos of some of the meals my family has eaten on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
If you are interested in the challenge, it's not too late to sign up! You can even try it for a week. Check it out here!
I honestly thought this challenge would be a piece of cake for me, since I think I eat pretty ‘unprocessed' most of the time. (For those of you just joining us, for this challenge, ‘unprocessed' is generally considered foods that you could make in your own kitchen with normal ingredients). However, this weekend was a complete Unprocessed Fail!!!! (How embarrassing, too, that I met a friend of a friend who follows the blog as I am scarfing down MSG laden chicken soup and a donut 😉 )
What happened? I ate out in restaurants and visited a pumpkin patch/fall festival (without planning ahead). I had previously stated that my commitment to the pledge was going to be mainly the meals I eat at home and I would do my best at restaurants, as my family does eat out quite a bit. However, this weekend was too much even for me! This is a common area where so many people who are trying to eat real ingredients and real food run into trouble.
Let me break down part of my Unprocessed Failed weekend…
- Saturday, I took my daughter and a friend to a local restaurant for a late lunch. The friend was visiting from out of town and we were excited to spend the day with her. The children ordered the usual ‘kid menu' food…none of the options were remotely ‘unprocessed' but we did get raw carrots instead of fries as the side. I got a chicken chopped salad. The problems with the kids' meals is obvious (chicken fingers…) but a chicken chopped salad isn't necessarily a bad thing to order. My problem with it is that the chicken most certainly was not pastured, hormone free or organic. I am sure it was heavily processed and full of ‘chicken flavor'. And I am sure the dressing was full of canola oil and who knows what kind of seasonings. I could have made this salad using nourishing ingredients very easily in my home, but at the restaurant, I ate what I was served. (Probably should have said no to the chicken and just added lemon juice and olive oil as the dressing…Oh well).
- Sunday morning, we went to a pancake house with some families from my daughter's class. Her meal: pancakes with bacon. Mine: 3 egg ‘Mexican' style omelette with pepper jack cheese, mushrooms, jalapeños, tomatoes, peppers and a side of hash browns. Again, not necessarily anything wrong with this meal. However, I am pretty sure the syrup was not real syrup (most restaurants, even pancake houses, use maple flavored syrup which does not have a drop of maple syrup in it), the bacon most definitely didn't come from pastured hogs nor the eggs from pastured chickens. I have no idea what ingredients were in the pancakes (my favorite pancake recipe here) or sort of oil was used to cook the omelet and hash browns, but am pretty sure it was canola oil…probably not the pastured butter I'd use in my house.
- Monday (Which I am including as a weekend since we had no school), we went to a pumpkin patch/fall festival type place with another family. We left first thing in the morning and I really anticipated leaving before lunch. If I had thought we would be so long, I would have packed a good lunch for myself and my daughter. This is always such a good idea, both to ensure you have real food on hand and to save money. Well, we ended up having so much fun (the place was huge) that time slipped away and pretty soon it was 1 pm and we had cranky, hungry children. We ordered hot dogs (yikes!), chips and I got a cup of ‘chicken dumpling' soup. And, of course, topped it off with some apple cider donuts! Obviously, the hot dogs were laden with nitrates and garbage ingredients, the chips (while only 3 ingredients) had gmo corn/cottonseed oil and my cup of soup, I can bet, was full of MSG and other unsavory ingredients. I have delicious nitrate free hot dogs at home and can easily make yummy chicken soup with homemade chicken stock, but since we were out, I was stuck with what was offered.
What can we learn from all of this? It isn't these ‘meals' that are bad. If I simply listed the meals as themselves, they absolutely can be decent nourishment, easily made with Real ingredients. The problem lies in the ingredients with which they are made. I have no idea what ingredients were used for the food (I could have asked, chose not to), but I can pretty much guarantee they were not what I would consider real…full of additives, GMOs, essentially garbage for our bodies. These ‘fake' ingredients are the cheapest and you would be surprised at the caliber of restaurants that use them. Now for myself and my daughter, because we eat ‘clean' most of the time, I am not that concerned about our weekend. I am, of course, going to ensure there are plenty of green vegetables and some cultured foods at our dinner table tonight, though!
When you start eating Real Food, it is so much different than any diets you may have tried to stick to before. It isn't a diet; there is no cheating. It is a lifestyle of eating Real Food. I wouldn't even call this weekend a ‘binge'. It's not like I ‘cheated' or ‘had a treat' and now can't fit into my pants (how I used to view the value of ‘diets'). Believe me, you can eat too much Real Food and not fit into your pants, too. Eating fake food is not a ‘treat.' This was simply poor choices due to what was available and poor planning (totally should have packed a lunch for the pumpkin patch). Now my body feels absolutely gross…almost a hungover feeling. But, all I can do is dust myself off and start again with the next meal (chicken, roasted turnips/carrots, steamed broccoli with butter and grilled green tomatoes) are currently making my kitchen smell divine! Maybe I will also add a green drink to help cleanse the body!
For many people, this type of food is what they eat day in and day out, without even realizing it. That is why I think it is so important to read labels, choose more nourishing ingredients and source food that you can make at home that does not have these wonky ingredients! Ask questions at restaurants about the ingredients in their food. Pack lunches and take snacks when appropriate. Do the best you can to surround yourself with Real Food options!
If you are new to our site, don't forget to check out our “Getting Started With Real Food” page. I think you will find a lot of helpful information there!!!
What do you do about eating Real when eating out?