Oh this is a doozy. And for some of you, this is not big news. For others, it might act as a wake-up call.
For me, this small change of mindset has helped me change my shopping habits, my eating habits, what and how I cook and even the type of takeaway I buy.
Some people enter the world of ‘healthy eating’ to lose weight, others might be trying to improve their kids behaviour, others may want more energy, some arrive because their bodies are struggling with illness and disease. For me, I just wanted to know what to feed my family to ensure I was giving them the best start to life. Whatever led you down the path of paying more attention to the food you are eating and how it makes you feel, I’m sure you have experienced confusion and overwhelm with the amount of information out there and the amount of CONTRADICTING information.
I was certainly overwhelmed when I started learning and researching. Getting ‘healthy’ seemed quite massive – out of reach – and only for people who had loads of time to dedicate to the cause. I remember reading Sarah Wilson’s lovely blog and thinking, ‘well, if I could hole myself up in a cabin in Byron Bay, on my own and without the distraction of being a working mum, then maybe I could achieve all this too!’
But I got over that and started making small changes. The truth is that the most difficult step for me was committing to loosening my grip on the emotional connections I had to some foods (rice crackers as a snack) and start to think about – here it is –
EATING REAL FOOD!
There. That’s it. I started looking on the backs of packets of the things I bought (taco seasoning for example) and putting back anything that didn’t look real enough. I began thinking more critically about what was going in my shopping trolley and whether this ‘food’ was going to assist in a healthy life, or contravene it. I have almost eradicated packet food (not totally – still a work in progress) through simply thinking about eating food that is real.
I remember asking a naturopath about what the best bread to eat was – she told me to try and find a loaf in the supermarket that didn’t contain a canola or vegetable oil or preservatives or numbers. I stopped buying supermarket bread and started reading a bit about wheat. (This is a good post on wheat from the Read the Bloody Label blog). I was really new to what real food was – so please don’t feel bad if you’re confused by what REAL FOOD or WHOLE FOOD actually means. Please – ask your questions in the comments – I’ve probably asked myself the same question in the last two years!
We are so lost in a culture that accepts factory made, chemical laden food as normal. It’s not. Never before have our bodies been exposed to so many toxins. And we expect them to keep working for us, performing at the highest level, be free from disease. It just can’t happen. If we don’t go back to basics and eat real food then we will continue down this path of chronic illness and disease. I love this Jamie Oliver quote:
Now I know many of you that are reading this might see it as too overwhelming to use only whole ingredients to make all your meals. But my philosophy is that it doesn’t need to be difficult. People have been doing it for thousands of years!!!
It’s just a re-training.
It’s about small mindset shifts. It’s just trying to eat real food whenever we can.
If I was to have a little quote it would be this:
This was my starting point. The base from which I have worked from. It has seen me experiment with new ingredients, attempt new dishes, go back to basics. My food is not complicated or time consuming, it’s simple and tasty. There is still so much for me to learn, but as long as I am eating real food along the way as much as possible, then surely I can give myself a pat on the back.
Whether you are a dairy fan or not, a meat eater or vegetarian, grain-free or sugar-free – there is room for all these styles of eating under the banner of REAL FOOD. Many would argue that dairy is not fit for human consumption (milk is for baby cows after all!) but we drink raw milk that has not been homogenised and pasteurised and only in small amounts – in fact 2 litres will usually last us 10 days. But I’m constantly battling what I have learnt about dairy and thrashing it around in my head. To dairy or not to dairy. Anyway, I am getting off the beaten track.
But …. milk is a good example of where the modern industrial machine is not doing us any favours. Heating milk to remove any naturally occurring enzymes which help with its digestibility and milking from cows that are fed hormones to keep them lactating at their peak means that the product is far from ‘real’. Oh there are so many ins and outs and arguments for an against and I can get SO LOST in it.
But I come back to this – eat real food – as close to its natural state as possible. Use your best judgement and make from scratch as much as you can. I’m far from perfect and still purchase things that I know aren’t great but I strongly believe that lasting change takes time. And anyway, I’m about to pop out my third kid in three and a half years so my time is fairly restricted! I only started learning about how food can influence health in 2012. I have a long way to go. You can read where I came from here.
So my advice, for what it’s worth, is start to think about whether the food you are buying is real and in its whole form. Just have it in your brain. Check the labels on packets.
If it confuses you, it’s not real.
Just eat real food. You’ll end up saving a fortune.