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geoblewis 07-10-2013 06:13 PM

Real food
I'm going to take a risk that I'll offend some peeps here. I know there are lots of people here who make exceptional choices with their diet. But some of us (and I spent a portion of my life doing the same) seem to go for food that has had the nourishing life sucked out of it.

Please eat real food! Real food kicks a$$! It's full of good stuff. The flavors range from nuanced and sublime to somebody-please-call-the-fire-department. It's all high in nutrition, low in sodium. Some of it is even completely sugar free and fat free. And the stuff that naturally has sugar in it comes with lots of fiber. And the stuff that is fatty is actually good for you in moderation and your body needs it.

Knowing how to cook real food is so hot! Really, ladies, if a guy invited you over for dinner and he took the time to cook you a good dinner with yummy roasted cauliflower, a lovely grilled wild salmon, some nutty whole grain pilaf with real Irish butter, and some wine, plus grilled peaches on real vanilla ice cream, you'd be wondering what he was making you for breakfast!

Buy some food that doesn't come with packaging, one thing a week, and figure out what to do with it. The Internet is packed with good recipes. Don't be afraid to eat something green that grew in the ground. If you have to throw it out, that is not a sin. However, eating faux-food that destroys your temple (your body) is!

Make your salad fill half your dinner plate and eat it before you eat anything else on your plate. Then eat your protein source. And if you still have room, then eat your whole grain, that shouldn't be more than 25% of your plate. And don't get architectural on me and build the Matterhorn with mashed potatoes on your plate in that one corner like my boys do! No high-rise carbs!

Okay, stepping off my soap box for the day. Yes, I am on my period...

Suzanne 3FC 07-10-2013 08:55 PM

Great post! I live on a 'real food' diet as well. I cook from scratch and use fresh ingredients. The only foods I buy in packages are things I can't make from scratch, like soy sauce (which I buy organic, non-gmo).

I also don't consume anything artificial. Dr. Will Clower said "If it ain't food, don't eat it" :lol:

Pink Hurricane 07-10-2013 10:37 PM

Love and agree with this post! For the past couple of months I have started to cook cleaner for my husband and I, I make almost everything from scratch now and the few packaged things I buy have 5 or less ingredients in them, usually things like almond milk, organic peanut butter, greek yogurt and larabars. It has made a huge difference for me!

nelie 07-11-2013 09:29 AM

I have a slightly different take from talking to those recovering from eating disorders and reading up on the subject. I also think there is a lot of diet paralysis going on with people where there are different 'experts' who tell them that this thing is bad, then this thing and they seem to get stuck or berating themselves when they aren't 'perfect'.

All food is real food. All food is something that you can incorporate into your diet. If you eat something that you don't think you should be eating, it isn't the end of the world and it doesn't mean you are doomed to fat/failure.

I think there are some real issues in our modern lifestyles. For one, cooking is becoming a lost art. I recently read that some urban apartments are ditching ovens and real cooktops in place of microwaves because 'no one cooks anymore'.

Why is this an issue? Because we are placing our dietary choices in the hands of others. Whether it is restaurant meals frozen meals or other packaged foods, foods are becoming more scientific and not to our benefit. Companies use our own brain chemistry against us and engineer foods that we are most likely to overeat. "Overcoming Overeating" is a good book to read on the subject. Those foods also tend to have preservatives that we don't need as well as excess sodium which can add up to make us feel bloated and for some, raise blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Cooking allows us to connect with our food as well as family and friends. Cooking allows us to choose what we eat based on our availability (which granted, is often in the hands of our grocers or climate). Many people say they don't have time to cook but not all things are time consuming and get your family involved to help if you can. Things like rice cookers, pressure cookers and slow cookers can help the busy chef. You can also make your own frozen meals out of leftovers if you want to have convenient meals. If you don't know how to cook, there are classes which you may be able to sign up for or even some sites have youtube videos showing people how to cook certain dishes. You are also worth the time to prepare foods that nourish your body.

And if you don't cook every meal, that isn't the end of the world. I do believe you can choose to eat whatever you want but should you? How do you feel when you eat certain foods? Energized? Energized for a short period then lethargic? Lethargic? Bloated?

You deserve to nourish your body in a way that promotes your health. Now eating packaged foods/prepared foods all the time may not be the best way to achieve health. If you aren't sure how you feel then maybe keep a food journal. Note how you feel before you eat (tired, cranky, upset, happy, excited) and then after you eat. Notice if there is a pattern. You can also try an elimination diet to see if there is a way you feel after eliminating certain foods and after reintroducing them. How do you feel a few minutes after eating some chips? How about an hour after? 2 hours?

As I mentioned previously, some foods are engineered for us to overeat and companies seem to work against us rather than for us. Not only that but the availability of our food and prices of our food benefits those companies rather than us as they receive incentives from our (US) government to grow foods that go into heavily processed foods. It'd be nice to supplement fresh fruit and vegetables at the market rather than corn which is used to feed livestock and go into packaged foods.

So I do believe all foods are real food but I also believe you have to make a choice that best promotes your health, physical and mental. If you happen to include packaged food into your diet, just be cautious that you are handing your eating choices over to someone else who may not have your best interest at heart. Also, if the food doesn't make you feel good, why are you eating it?

PaleoPeanut 07-11-2013 05:17 PM

I disagree. All food is not real food. Real food is nutrient-dense and not all food is. Why waste calories on foods that won't provide your body with the building blocks that it needs?

If a food item has a list of ingredients on it, most of the time I find myself tempted to put it back on the store shelf. If a food item has a lengthy and/or complicated list of ingredients, I will very, very rarely toss it into my grocery cart. There's just no reason for it most of the time. I pickle my own cucumbers. I make my own pasta sauce. I'm planning on experimenting with a few different recipes from mango sorbet this weekend. Most anything can be made from scratch.

Fast foods and processed foods have taken the fun out of cooking and there is much fun to be had in the kitchen. Home made meals can be 100% customized to meet different tastes and different restrictions/allergies. Home made food is made with love.

nelie 07-11-2013 09:24 PM

Well then call it nutrient dense, not 'real'. I agree that not all food is nutrient dense but it doesn't necessarily need to be. I think too many people try to demonize too many foods and it isn't all or nothing. Calling something 'real' is making a judgement call and I think judgement calls about food can lead to eating disorders which isn't a good thing. It is about what works for you.

And I wanted to give an example of my husband. We eat a very nutrient dense diet but I add little sodium to our diet (I add more than I used to though because I had problems with low blood pressure) and not a lot of fat. I mean I don't worry too much about adding olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, etc but it still isn't a lot. My husband is at the bottom range of the normal BMI and was told by his doctor to keep his weight up. He does this by eating nuts and tortilla chips. Now I wouldn't recommend for the average person to eat tortilla chips, which aren't very nutrient dense but they are calorically dense as well as adding some fat to my husband's diet. I could also make the tortillas, then make the chips but that is a bit of work and I work full time :) The chips we buy have 3-4 ingredients so it is ok in my book.

Unicorn67 07-11-2013 09:38 PM

I saw a guy on TV and never caught his name but he described "real food" as follows:
-real food rots
-real food either grew in the ground or had a mother
-real food is food your grandmother would recognize
-real food has no ingredients that a third grader can't pronounce
This really stuck with me and made a big difference in how I eat.

sontaikle 07-11-2013 11:56 PM

Part of the problem I have with just telling folks to "eat real food" is that is just such a large case of "your privilege is showing."

What if you don't have access to "real food?" What if you don't have access to the information to prepare it? I think that rather than telling people to just eat real food and figure out how to cook it, we should be pushing to educate people on the food they eat, where it comes from, etc. Additionally IT SHOULD BE EASIER TO GET REAL FOOD. Nothing makes me angrier than the fact that it's really difficult for people to just buy some freaking fresh food!

As a teacher I've had the experience in working in drastically different neighborhoods. My first job, right out of college, was in a private school in a nice area of NYC. Nice grocery stores and restaurants; real, fresh, healthy food was easy to come by. If I forgot my lunch there were a variety of places where I could grab something healthy. The children at this school often had parents who had the ability, education level, and income to prepare healthy meals.

My second job was in one of the poorest and crime-ridden areas of NYC. There were grocery stores, but they were small and few and far between. Restaurants and eateries were mainly fast food joints. One of my students' mothers lamented that she had to go far out of her way just to buy some vegetables that were halfway decent! Many of my students lived in public housing, had one (or both) parents out of the picture and no access to the internet outside of a smartphone, school, or the library. Many of them would come into my room in the morning with a soda and a bag of chips for "breakfast." What else did they know though? All the stores around only sold such things and who knows if there was money for breakfast? Thankfully the lunches given to the children were pretty healthy (but they could have been better). There was a breakfast program, but trying to get middle school kids up early enough is a challenge when most of them don't have a parent to push them out of bed.

My third job was in the suburbs in a middle class neighborhood. Not quite like my first job, but all my students definitely had access to fresh food. Still, many had no knowledge of how to prepare it (I had upper high school here—they should be able to cook at this stage of the game!). They had the foundation: i.e. they knew it was better to choose a piece of fruit over a packaged cookie, but would choose take out over cooking. As a home instructor, I spent a lot of time in their houses and with their families. When cooking would come up in conversation, some families were surprised at how "fun" and "easy" it was after I mentioned how I prepared food.

Access to food and information is really a big hurdle. I didn't realize it until I spent so much time in a food dessert. It really makes me grateful that I could literally walk to the grocery store and buy fresh food, or that I have the money to own a car which allows me to drive to other nearby grocery stores and buy fresh food. I have the means to own a computer, go online, and research how to eat healthy.

If you have the means to eat real food, then awesome! That's great. Be grateful you have that opportunity, but realize that there are so many others that don't have the means to just "eat real food."

Suzanne 3FC 07-12-2013 09:46 PM

Oh my, this thread has gone in many directions and I love reading the different views on real food :)

Personally, I have found that eating real food made a huge difference in my health (and weight). I also select foods that are nutrient-dense, and I look at food a completely different way now. These days, food is less about what it can do for my taste buds than what it can do for my health.

A few years ago, I read something that Dr. Andrew Weil wrote indicating our bodies may not know what to do with all of the foreign substances we are putting in them, and they may be linked to the increase in inflammation that causes heart disease and other serious illnesses. It seems to make sense, and I'd love to explore that further.

I'd like to say that I read every label, but I buy very few items that have labels or with more than one ingredient on them. I eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits, oats, homemade dressings, fish, lentils, etc. I eat fruit for dessert. If I do buy something in a package, I make sure that it contains simple ingredients without artificial or altered additives.

I do wish access to fresh food was more available everywhere. I'm lucky that I live near a few good farmers markets. Sams Club also has good deals on fresh and frozen vegetables and fruit. (I buy frozen blueberries there and eat a cup a day). I buy oats and lentils from the bulk bins at the natural food market. I'm currently waiting on the zucchini and tomatoes to start appearing in neighborhood gardens, where I'll happily accept their overflow :) It all makes real food more affordable.

Suzanne 3FC 07-12-2013 09:54 PM


Originally Posted by Unicorn67 (Post 4791089)
I saw a guy on TV and never caught his name

I'm pretty sure that was Michael Pollan :) Check him out, he's amazing!

Nelie, I read "The End of Overeating", by Dr. David Kessler, and I think it covered the same info on processed food as "Overcoming Overeating". Kessler is the former commissioner of the FDA, and he explained how foods are engineered to make us overeat or crave them. It was a pretty scary book! It also contributed to my change in how I view processed foods.

nelie 07-12-2013 10:34 PM


Originally Posted by Suzanne 3FC (Post 4791770)
I'm pretty sure that was Michael Pollan :) Check him out, he's amazing!

Nelie, I read "The End of Overeating", by Dr. David Kessler, and I think it covered the same info on processed food as "Overcoming Overeating". Kessler is the former commissioner of the FDA, and he explained how foods are engineered to make us overeat or crave them. It was a pretty scary book! It also contributed to my change in how I view processed foods.

Oh that is the book I meant :)

geoblewis 07-13-2013 03:14 AM

I have lived in several developing countries for about 15 years. Some places didn't have a climate conducive to growing a good variety of food. Other places were just brimming with fresh produce. The nationals started having Western health issues when processed foods were introduced to their diets. Not even Western foods, but processed indigenous foods. Lots of diabetes and heart disease and high blood pressure going on. No one was very educated about healthy food choices, and people are not living into their 70s.

I recently learned that we can buy vegetable seeds with food stamps. I wonder how many do that. I too am blessed to have good friends who share their overflowing gardens with me. I spend time helping them with the tending of their gardens. I see lots of empty lots around my small town, in the poorer parts of town they're rarely used to grow vegetables. I wish the city would make water available in those lots so that vegetable gardens and chickens can be raised there. Wish I knew how to get that going in my town.

nelie 07-13-2013 09:15 AM

And it does depend, I grew up in California and felt lucky by the availability of fruits and veggies. I grew up in a poorer area and mostly everyone grew some of their own food.

I had heard of food deserts but didn't quite understand what that meant until I visited a friend in NYC. The grocery stores in her area had no fruits/veggies, none and there weren't that many grocery stores for the amount of people that lived in her area but there were sure plenty of fast food places to eat. I was a bit shocked as I had never seen that before. She said she had her fruits/veggies delivered because she had the money to do so. Also, most people lived in apartments and I didn't see a lot of balconies even so I don't think there was a lot of fruit/vegetable growing going on as well.

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