How I’m Implementing Real Food Guidelines in my Journey

Today I’d like to discuss the Real Food Dietary Guidelines. I simply do not think it’s fair that I assume that everyone know “what real food is.”  We have been so brainwashed by industry and marketing that a lot of folks believe that boxed cereals, frozen dinners and loaves of white sandwich bread are real food. It’s not our fault these have been acceptable food items for the duration of a lot of our lives. It has been pumped into us and we have learned to just accept it as fact.

Well, Dear Readers, for those who know me, I’m not one to just accept what’s being drilled in my head … after many, many hours of research and a small burn out on information overload, I determined my own facts based on my own research and implemented those findings in my family’s lifestyle. Then I call them “my facts.” After all, this is my family, my life, my body and my health … I’m the only one that can ascertain what “my facts” are and live to uphold them. That being said …

I’d like each of you to review the Real Food Dietary Guidelines and think about how you can slowly start to implement them into your Real Food Lifestyle. Yes, I said slowly and I said lifestyle… why, you ask?

I feel if you start out slow you will have a better chance of success … if you start to take away the foods that really give you pleasure too fast you will feel deprived, unsatisfied and ultimately defeated. This is not a diet in the common use of the word “diet”, this is a lifestyle change. Using my family as an example, I will tell you the things we started out doing to switch to a Real Food Lifestyle but before I do I need to give you a bit of history ….

I am turning 50 this year (I embrace this lol) and when I was growing up I was raised on home cooked meals and baked goods. My mom was a stay at home mother and we lived next door to my grandma. My grandparents always had a small vegetable garden that was shared between the families.  I was raised in South Florida, so fresh fish was a staple item. My dad was a fisherman by hobby. Fast forward to marriage and having my son … while I was at home I didn’t really embrace the whole learn to cook idea … I just wasn’t interested, they cooked and I ate … it was fact lol …. when raising my son I had to start thinking about nutrition and meals, and the dreaded “how to cook” … but like many of you … I just accepted the facts and boxed cereal, boxed macaroni and cheese, hot dogs were staples in my house … then my son developed food allergies and I had to think even harder about nutrition and meals … so I delved into vegetarianism (is that even a word … I like it we’ll keep it lol) anyway I jumped with 2 feet in and totally change to a vegetarian lifestyle … we did this for quite a few years until I was finally beat down with a career, raising a child on my own (nope that marriage wasn’t the charm) and a busy hectic schedule …. well vegetarianism went to the wayside and back to fast food, processed  box foods, etc … however, through my research and learnings I did start to read labels and tried to make better choices when buying groceries so although we weren’t practicing a vegetarian diet we did have fruits, veggies and meats in our diet.  As I got older and my schedule got lighter, I started thinking about how I was raised and how I would really like to get  back to that …. so I started making even better choices at the grocery store and pretty much relied on fresh veggies, fresh meats but still had processed sugars, sodas, and processed bakery goods. I did learn to cook and plan meals but on the weekends still relied on the fast food places. Fast forward once again, here I am 50 years old … I have no illnesses and take no medications (I have always practiced holistic medicine) … I don’t have to see a doctor (well unless I burn myself on that hot cast iron pan I forgot about or cut myself with that chopping knife that needs to be sharpened) but all in all I’m in real good health for 50. I have lots of energy and look at myself in the mirror and say “there’s no way you can be 50.” lol I know a lot of folks my age who see a doctor monthly and take handfuls of medication each day. So all in all I don’t think I did too bad during these past years but I’m wanting to take it all the way back to the days of my upbringing with my grandmother and mother … hence my journey to a Real Food Lifestyle …  well that’s MY story … my Hubby (aka Big Daddy) hasn’t always been such a willing participant … but through the years has adapted and will actually walk through the frozen food isle with the idea of a hungry man frozen dinner and say “really, yuck, honey what are you cooking for dinner?”  This my friends is progress lol …

After making the decision to implement a Real Food Lifestyle I reviewed our greatest weaknesses … here they are:

  • Soda
  • Processed Sugars
  • Canned/Boxes Foods

Then looking into my pantry (I always keep a stocked pantry of staple items, we’ll leave stocking our pantry for another post) I started reading ingredient labels on the canned tomatos, box pastas etc …  yuck, yuck and more yuck … BUUUTTT … one thing I was NOT willing to do was clear my pantry and start all over …. heck that food costs money and I don’t have money to throw away nor do I believe in wasting anything! So I decided that we would use up our pantry items and as we needed to restock we would make better choices. Whilest doing so, we would incorporate more fresh veggies than we used before (using the Dirty Dozen list to determine which veggies should be organic only and which were safe for conventional produce, for budget purposes), we started purchasing our meats (grass-fed, pastured poultry, beef, pork and wild caught seafood), fresh farm eggs, grass-fed dairy and organic veggies from local sources, i.e. directly from the farm or via the All Local Farmer’s Market, Earth Fare and The Fresh Market . Our grocery budget for the week determines where I will buy our food, what food items I buy where and how much of each … I follow all the sales, use coupons, price compare between stores and spend money on nutritional value.

Okay working on omitting weakness number 1 (Soda) …. I have not totally given up soda yet … however,  I have reduced my consumption greatly (I was a sodaholic), replacing soda  with spring water and reducing it to maybe 1 or 2 glasses a day. Soon I know this will totally phase out because I really like my spring water … Big Daddy well, he’s not to amenable to giving up soda but let’s see what happens with my influence (hey he quit frozen foods right?) after all he does have the right to make his own decisions for his body but I’m sure he’ll see it my way eventually lol.

Weakness number 2 (Processed Sugar) OMG! It’s everywhere and in everything!! So, I began with the 5lb bag of white sugar that was always in my pantry … I substituted that for raw honey I buy from All Local Farmer’s Market and Sucanat that I buy from the bulk section at Earth FareI am learning everyday new ways to incorporate these ingredients into my everyday cooking. Ya know, it really isn’t bad at all, in fact, I really love it when I make fresh preserves and can say there is no processed sugar whatsoever … love it!  The main thing with processed sugar is READ THE LABELS … define what processed sugar is and then implement those changes into your Real Food Lifestyle.

Last but not least, weakness number 3 (Canned/Boxed Foods). Every pantry has them … the idea here is use up what you have and replace with a better alternative. Regular canned tomatos can be replaced with organic canned tomatos or since we are entering the spring/summer seasons this is a great time to purchase fresh organic local grown tomatos and learn to can or freeze them yourself.  Better yet grow your own! However, if, for convenience sake, you choose to buy canned organic tomatos make sure to READ THE LABEL even organic items have processed sugars, preservatives and additives. As far as boxed goods, I wasn’t really one to have all the processed boxed potatos or convenient side foods, my boxes were mostly pastas of different shapes and sizes … problem … I love pasta! I hate whole wheat and whole grain pastas … sorry they just don’t say pasta to me … but I have made the transition to organic, 100% semolina (the only listed ingredient) pasta that I purchase on sale at  Earth Fare . This leaves me with the question …. how do I transition from regular all purpose flour to whole wheat or whole grain when we really don’t like either? Well, my first step is adding All Purpose Flour to my weakness list and switching to, at the very least, unbleached, all purpose flour.  At least, I’m taking away the bleaching chemicals and, actually, when using it for baking it has a much fresher flavor than regular all purpose. I will keep you posted as I find amicable ways of substituting flours, i.e. coconut flour, rice flour, etc as my budget allows for testing recipes using these more wholesome flours. One thing I really don’t think I can get use to is whole wheat but we’ll see how we progress and after all, this IS my lifestyle and one that should be modeled toward me and my family.

Well there you have it ….. what are your weaknesses and how do you plan to start your journey to a Real Food Lifestyle?

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