Most of us didn’t grow up eating organic, unprocessed, good- for- your- gut foods. Our culture has gotten away from preparing foods from scratch and from using food as medicine to heal ourselves. And it can be overwhelming and daunting when you first get started. Here’s a few things to help you get started:
Defining Real Food
What does “real food” actually mean? It’s quite simple. Real food is food that existed before the modernization of food, before commercial feedlots, before hydrogenation of fats and oils, before the existence of refined and artificial sugars, and before the introduction of easy, cheap, shelf-stable foods. We are talking about the foods that our ancestors ate and thrived on for thousands of years. It’s things like farm fresh eggs, fresh garden vegetables, whole cuts of meat like steak, lamb chops or bacon & hearty soups made with real homemade broth. Real food is nutritious. Real food is nutrient dense. Real food grows healthy small humans.
One of the most important tenants of a real food diet is the idea of eating nutrient-dense foods. Technically speaking, nutrient density refers the amount of essential nutrients for a given amount of food. In other words, getting the biggest bang for your buck with everything that you put into your body.
Why is this important? Eating nutrient dense foods ensures that you are getting concentrated amounts of valuable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential fatty acids, and phytonutrients, as well as phytochemicals. Food not only satisfies our bodies’ need for calories and fuel, but also provides our cells with valuable building blocks for strong immune systems and other vital processes.
Think about this: You are hungry for an afternoon snack to tide you over until dinner. You can eat a hard boiled egg and a few carrot sticks or you can grind on a bag of potato chips and cookies. Which snack do you think will give your body what it needs in order to feel full, healthy, and satisfied?
Best Real Foods
Foods that I recommend as the most nutrient dense foods are:
- Organic vegetables and fruits
- Eggs from pastured chickens
- Grass fed and pastured meats
- Sustainable Seafood
- Grass fed and RAW dairy products (if your body can tolerate them)
- Moderate amounts of organic nuts and seeds
- Organic legumes like lentils and black beans (if you tolerate them and soaked for better digestion))
3 Tips for Transitioning to a Real Food Lifestyle
The best way to get started is to commit to reducing the amount of packaged foods that you purchase. Packaged foods are processed and often full of industrial seed oils and preservatives that are not healthy for us. Begin to make things at home from scratch: yogurt, coconut/nut/seed milks, condiments….Eat at home more often… baby steps…. get into a rhythm of being connected to your foods and preparing them. I find that focusing on eating more fresh vegetables is the easiest way to eat more real food.
Buy as much organic and local food as you can afford. Check out the DIRTY DOZEN LIST to make better choices. And avoid GMO’s ( aka genetically modified foods) like the plague. They wreak havoc on your body.
And cut yourself a little slack. Go slow. Do what you can. Because stressing about what we eat can be worse that the unhealthy food itself. Many people find that following the 80/20 rule of eating makes clean eating doable.
Next, commit to taking care of your gut flora. 80% of our immune system originates in our small intestine. Our health depends on the state of our internal “eco-system.” Keeping a healthy balance of “good” bacteria in our digestive tracts is the first step to living a healthy, vibrant lifestyle. Adding fermented foods to your diet every day is the easiest way to take care your gut. See below for some great fermented food resources.
Thirdly, commit to having good, healthy fats in your diet. I eat a diet high in fat, full of nutrient dense foods. Processed vegetable oils are everywhere. Switching to traditional fats like butter, ghee, tallow and adding coconut, avocado oil, and raw olive oil to your diet is a huge step in beginning to truly nourish your body. This step often requires some re-education on our parts. We have been taught for so long that saturated fats are not good for us. Be open to the change. Educate your self. See how you feel when you make the switch. Check out my post on Top 5 Healthy Fats in the Kitchen.
The road to good health is a journey. It takes time, and we are all on a different path. Nothing I say is absolute. I can only share what I have learned for myself. Keep it simple. Take little steps at a time. And be kind to yourself.
To get REAL food recipes from Savory Lotus, visit my RECIPES page.
To see what I use in my own kitchen, visit my RESOURCE page.
I’ve compiled some useful links to make your journey to good health a little easier. This is a work in progress and will grow as I grow in my learning…
Real Food Eating
- Weston A. Price Foundation Dietary Guidelines
- Real Food: Good, Better, Best – from Weed ’em and Reap
About Fats and Oils
- Know Your Fats – a collection of articles from the Weston A. Price Foundation
- The Truth about Saturated Fats
Preparing Nuts and Seeds
- Why You Should Soak Your Nuts and Seeds – from Small Footprint Family
- Real Plans – customizable meal plans for any family size and diet