Posted: March 7, 2012 in Food, Healthy Living, Nutrition

I have a confession to make:  I. EAT. REAL. FOOD!   There I said it!  Wow, it feels great to bare my soul.  I wish I could see the puzzled looks on some of your faces as you read that.  You may be thinking that’s not earth shattering, why the need to confess?  Were you waiting for something juicier than that? Sorry, maybe next time or better yet – maybe never!!!  The truth is that I felt the need to do that because of the comments and strange looks that I get from some people when they find out what I eat, or don’t eat for that matter. 

What do I consider to be real food?  It is food that either doesn’t have an ingredient list or if it is does – the ingredients are recognizable, minimal and not a product of a chemist’s lab. Take butter versus margarine.  Butter has an ingredient list that contains cream and salt.  Now for the list on a vegetable spread – vegetable oil blend (partially hydrogenated soybean oil, soybean oil), water, whey(milk), salt, vegetable mono and diglycerides, soy lecithin, (potassium sorbate, calcium disodium EDTA) used to protect quality, citric acid, artificial flavor, vitamin A palmitate, beta carotene (color).  Ouch, that is a lengthy list of mostly unrecognizable ingredients!  Please explain to me how that is a better choice over the real thing?!  There is a quote from Joan Gussow that says, “As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.”  I couldn’t agree more. Give me butter, thank you.

Confession number two…I wasn’t always this way.  I will be completely truthful and tell you that I was sucked into the mentality that low-fat/no- fat was better and certainly lower calories were best even if meant eating fake food to keep those things low.  Anyone remember the Snack Well craze in the 90s?  If you do, then you also remember that people got fatter than ever.  Can we all say – fail?!!!  But what I didn’t realize is what a negative impact those foods were having on my body.  Our bodies do not recognize many of the ingredients in those fake foods and have no idea what to do with them.  Blood sugar spikes, headaches, joint pain, bloating, insatiable cravings, low-energy, sleep issues, inflammation in the body and the list goes on and on as to what the potential consequences of those ingredients may be. And keep this in mind – the consequences of our actions may not be immediate and may take some time to progress and become evident.  One such issue is inflammation in the body that can lead to more advanced diseases such heart disease, cancers, and degenerative illnesses.

So how did I come to be where I am today?  I first had to deprogram myself of all the incorrect things that I thought I knew about nutrition which means that I really don’t put much stock in Conventional Wisdom and for that I make absolutely no apologies!  Next, I needed to figure out what would work best for my body and relearn a way of eating. I have now learned when my body is going to turn on me for eating certain foods and what foods give me optimal outcomes.  Don’t get me wrong – I may indulge in a treat on an occasion – but it is most likely going to be with real food or a bit of alcohol, and I am going to make sure the splurge is really and truly worth it.  I also have to be well aware of the fact that my body will mostly likely revolt and that I am going to have to deal with the miserable feelings that will ultimately ensue. 

I am not saying that I expect everyone to take the journey that I have gone on, and I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, but I am saying that it is time to be truly aware of what you are putting into your body and what impact it may have on your health both now and in the future as I have mentioned in previous blogs.

Try to make changes in your ratio of real food versus non real food.

Start small.  Swap out soda and make some iced-tea to have around instead or water with fresh lemon, lime, or orange slices in it – not only will you being doing right by your body getting rid of all the high-fructose corn syrup, but your wallet as well.  There are so many flavored teas out there that you can alternate flavors.  Try to appreciate it without any sweetener.  Oh, the moans and comments I am getting right now as you read this.  I hear you, and I have also been there.  It may take some getting used to, but given enough time your body will adjust.  For some it has been years of using an abundance of sugary (whether real or perceived as with artificial sweeteners) and/or salty foods that our bodies don’t recognize the true flavors of food anymore.  Try some berries with a little dollop of real cream.  Make your own “fries” in the oven and experiment with different spices.  Take chicken cutlets and cut them into cubes, dip in egg and dredge in seasoned almond flour (I season mine with garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper.) then bake in the oven for your own version of chicken nuggets.  Start where you feel most comfortable!   

Please know that I would never pass judgment on anyone for their way of eating, and I am well aware that everyone’s circumstances are different.  I wish good, vibrant health for everyone and in my opinion it starts with food.  So if you find yourself completely overwhelmed and in a place like I was and want to start turning things around – remember that it is never too late.  And if you need a support system to assist you know that I am here for you.

  1. Grace says:

    Good ideas here Joanne. After reading this I’ve realized we eat a lot of ‘real’ foods already. This is good to know. Thanks.

  2. Jen says:

    Well said Joanne. I too realize how much garbage I eat, and my family. My goal is to wean everyone off of packaged foods and onto the “real deal”. Thanks for your inspiration!

  3. Lisa says:

    Hi Joanne, reading this I thought about this thing with drinking soda – which seems to be kind of a big thing in the states, but maybe not so much over here…. In germany you make “schorle” instead most of the times – i.e. 1 part apple juice and 2 parts sparkling water. And of course any juice can be used, one favourite of ours would be apple and grape + water. The difference here is the sparkling feeling when drinking. And kids love it!
    Anyway – I love this blog and I follow it closely. Thank you for inspiring us to live a better life!

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