People get to this point for different reasons. Food Allergies. Desire to lose weight. Worsening health. Realization that they only have one body. Realization that WE only have one planet. Compassion for animals. The list goes on. The conclusion to this realization is the desire to stop eating processed junk and get started with REAL food. But where to start? Everything seems to come in a box or a package. It’s overwhelming to the point where you might be tempted to just give up. But WAIT. Stop. Take a breath. You can do this. One baby step at a time. And you will have help.
One Baby Step at a Time
Some people prefer to go cold turkey, cutting ALL processed junk and starting with a clean slate. I have seen that strategy work, but it takes a lot of preparation, otherwise you end up staring at your fridge or pantry, hungry and desperate and then later have to battle the guilt of a late night rendezvous with the pizza delivery guy. You want to make changes that you can stick to. Changes that will last. So, for that reason, I recommend baby steps. Decide what your biggest priorities are for your health and then set a small goal you can achieve. But how does this play out practically?
1. Identify ONE specific change you want to make
If you have a food allergy or major health problem related to a particular food then this change is already decided for you. Good. Start there. If not, you may have no idea where to start, so here are a list of suggestions. If you have already done these things, skip to the next section, but this is where most people need to begin. Remember. Just start with ONE of these and make it stick before adding a second.
- Stop eating fast food. This might mean packing a lunch or thinking ahead. If you forget to think ahead, then stop at a grocery store and buy fruit, nuts or cheese instead of going through the drive thru.
- Pick one item you frequently buy in a package and learn how to cook it from scratch. Don’t start with trying to make everything from scratch, just this one thing. Once you make a habit of preparing that item, pick another.
- Stop drinking soda. Pouring liquid sugar (or liquid poison if you are drinking diet) into your body every day takes a HUGE toll on your health. Drink more water or learn how to make homemade soda, that is actually GOOD for you.
- READ LABELS. And by “labels” I mean “ingredients lists”. Labels may say, “healthy”, “all natural”, “gluten free” or “low fat”, but these labels are either unregulated or not as good for you as you may think. Read the list of ingredients, and look for things like sugars (which goes by many names including high fructose corn syrup and many other words that end in “ose”), vegetable oils (canola, cottonseed, rapeseed, etc… these are BAD dudes), preservatives and fillers. It is especially important to read labels on so called “health foods”, because this is where many people are fooled.
Stepping up your game.
Okay. So maybe you have done the things above and you are ready to take this further and really get serious. It’s time to look more closely at your diet, one food group at a time. Again, don’t try to tackle these all at once. Pick whichever seems the most important to you and start there.
Fats and oils. Stop cooking with vegetable oils, which are highly processed and VERY unhealthy and start using oils and fats that are actually GOOD for you. To learn more, check out this post about good fats.
Grains. Get the scoop on why a lot of people are ditching or at least learning how to prepare them so they are more easily digested. I have found this personally true and when I stopped eating grains I lost about 20 pounds. Read my story here.
Veggies and Fruits. Eat lots of them. Not from cans. Preferably organic, but even non-organic is better than not eating fruits and veggies at all.
Dairy. Conventional dairy from factory farms is NOT a health food. The cows are not eating their natural diet of green grass and they are packed into tiny, dirty pens. But raw dairy from grass fed cows is an amazing health food. To find local sources of raw dairy, click here.
Meats. Same story with meat cows. Conventional meat in the grocery store from from factory farms and not only is it bad for the environment (read here, why grass fed cows are GOOD for the environment), but also very bad for you! They are not healthy animals and they will not make you healthy to eat them. If you want good quality grass fed meat, you can get it here or you can read about how my family buys our half of a grass fed cow every year.
Cut Out GMOs. Genetically modified foods are everywhere and they can be hard to identify. Learn more about how to find them and STOP eating them, here.
Fermented Foods. Fermented foods have been eaten by every culture in the world throughout all of human history and it does wonders for keeping you healthy and disease free. If you haven’t already, try adding these to your daily diet.
This all sounds great, but… expensive. How do I afford it?
It’s true that eating, nourishing real food is an investment, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Read some ideas here, to make it more affordable.
So what about you? Have you started with real food? What percentage of your diet is real vs. processed? I would love to hear from you in the comments!
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DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor and the statements on this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA. Any products or techniques mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am just a mom who shares what works for me!