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Within the past few weeks, I have received emails from several different readers, all having with the same question – “How do I get started with real foods for my family? It is so overwhelming!”
I thought many of you might be asking the same question, so, let’s look at 4 steps to get you started.
REAL Food Defined
First, for those of you who are new, let’s define REAL food. I am sure there are many definitions for REAL food but here is mine: Real food is food as close as possible to its natural state, locally produced when possible, without chemical preservatives and artificial ingredients. REAL food contains ingredients that you can pronounce and understand – foods that your grandmother would have eaten! REAL food is nutrient dense to nourish the body with nutrients it needs, not just fill it with calories.
Does this mean you must buy organic?
This does not necessarily mean that you must buy organic produce. With our family size, it is not in the budget to buy organic produce! Thankfully, we are able to grow much of our own food in our garden. The Dirty Dozen list is a good place to start when trying to decide what to purchase organic versus conventionally produced.
Through books such as Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price and REAL food blogs, like Cultured Palate and others, learn for yourself what steps need to be taken to provide yourself and your family with a nutrient dense, REAL food diet. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed! There is a lot of information and you can not expect to learn it all at once. Set goals for yourself and make changes, one at a time if necessary but make them stick.
Getting Started with REAL Foods – 4 Steps
1. Skip the Processed Foods
Foods made at home from scratch are more nutritious and less expensive. Processed foods are filled with unhealthy ingredients – things you can’t pronounce much less know what they are – like artificial colors and flavorings, sugar, fillers and preservatives. Homemade foods, on the other hand, can be powerhouse products filled with nutritious ingredients that nourish you. So, skip the processed foods!
Often, buying locally from farms you can visit, is less expensive and definitely better quality. The Weston A. Price Foundation can help you find nutrient dense foods in your area.
Plan ahead, we are all busy but with planning, even the most busy of people can make changes for the better when it comes to nutrition. If you need help getting menu plans, try Meal Plans for the Busy Home.
2. Minimize Processed Sugar in Your Diet
I know this can be a controversial subject and I am not advocating banning it altogether. But, the American diet is filled with hidden sugar! This can be detrimental to your health, especially if you have poor digestion and an unhealthy gut such as in GAPS patients.
Not only is sugar addictive, but it lacks nutritional benefits and is filled with empty calories. These empty calories are responsible for much of the obesity in America.
Sugar is found on the labels of processed foods as sucrose, dextrose, maltose, white sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and fructose.
Instead of processed sugar try natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, rapadura (unrefined cane sugar).
Get rid of the conventional vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats (partially hydrogenated fat) in your house! Illnesses associated with trans fats include autoimmune diseases, infertility, cancer and heart disease jut to name a few!
4. Add Probiotic Foods
With the common usage of antibiotics and sugar laden foods, the bacteria in the gut can become unbalanced. The lack of balance can be the cause for many physical ailments from autoimmune diseases to psychological symptoms. There are many probiotic supplements available but many of them do not make it out of the stomach and into the intestines. That is the beauty of probiotic foods, they allow the intestines to benefit from the probiotics – they are not completely digested and neutralized in the stomach.
To find fermented food starters, Click Here.
The 80/20 Rule
I hope these 4 steps will get you started on your journey to a traditional, REAL food diet. Remember, each step you take, each change you make, will provide health benefits to you no matter how small the steps are.
Since we started the REAL food journey when several of our children were in their teens, they had years of eating habits to unlearn. The 80/20 Rule from Dr. Weston A. Price is a comfort to me – as long as 80% of our diet is nutritious, 20% can be not so nutritious. While I don’t use this as an excuse to provide nutritionally deficient meals, it is comforting when choosing to eat foods that are enjoyed but not so nutritionally dense!