Most of us know we should be eating more real food. Still, starting can be daunting and seem overwhelming.
Luckily, eating real food doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. It can simply start by knowing what you’re eating, every day.
The simplest and most effective way to start eating more real food and to avoid the processed stuff is to know what’s actually in the products you buy.
Reading ingredient labels is an easy way to start identifying real foods and incorporating them into your everyday.
Ready to get started? Let’s do this!
1 | Clean Out Your Freezer
Take everything out and toss anything that’s old, unlabeled or freezer-burned. Get rid of anything that’s taking up space, including the processed stuff. If it has more than 5 ingredients, it’s best to get rid of it.
2 | Move on to Your Fridge + Pantry
Same rules apply. If it’s old or unusable, toss it. If it’s processed (e.g., more than 5 ingredients, contains unrecognizable ingredients, or added sugar) let it go.
3| 5 Ingredients or Fewer
Before buying an item at the store, flip it over and read the ingredient list. If the product has more than five ingredients, consider skipping it in favor of a product with a shorter list.
4 | No Fake Ingredients
if the ingredient list includes food dyes, artificial flavors, or ingredients you can’t pronounce, challenge yourself to find an alternative without any of these processed ingredients on the list.
SEEK OUT REAL FOOD ALTERNATIVES
5 | Make It
Missing your favorite coffee creamer, salad dressing, or afternoon snack?
Try whipping up your own real food alternatives. Do a quick Internet search for real food recipes, or search the Real Food Whole Life recipe archives!
6 | Buy It
While homemade real food is great, it’s not always possible for every meal, every day. Prepackaged food is still an option when shifting your diet to real food.
Make sure to read the labels and skip any product with more than 5 ingredients or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
7 | Think Outside the Pantry and Freezer
Consider your daily routine when it comes to food. Do you grab a skinny latte at the local coffee shop everyday on the way to work?
Grab a snack from the vending machine at work in the afternoon? Don’t forget to check ingredient labels when you’re away from home.
8 | Know What You’re Eating Away From Home
Ask to see the ingredient lists at your favorite pizza, drive-through, or fast-food restaurants.
Many casual restaurants are doing a better job at providing this information, and consider skipping those that aren’t willing to share what’s in the food you’re eating.
GENTLE IN THE MESS
9 | Real Food Isn’t About Perfection
Switching your diet to real food is a process, and it’s not about perfection. Even if you replace one thing in your daily routine with real food, you’re making progress. Really.
Keep moving toward a goal of eating as much real food as you can as much of the time as you can and be gentle with yourself along the way.
10 | Come Back and Try Again
Real food is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Some things take longer to give up or find a replacement for and old habits can be hard to be break. If you find yourself slipping or “falling off the wagon,” remember you are not failing.
You’re just learning. Come back and try again. And again. And again.
How do you incorporate real food into your everyday? I'd love to hear your challenges and successes!