In the two (plus) years between when I originally conceived this blog (as we were just moving back to the states from Costa Rica), and now when I’m finally starting to think about writing regularly, the world of “real food” has come a long ways. The term is common-place now—and, in fact, most of the time I won’t bother to set it off in quotes as though it were some made-up word!—and there are countless blogs and websites covering some aspect or other.
But also, as I’ve come to find out even just watching the people in my immediate little circle around me, I think lots of people are still eating a fair amount of “not-real food” and not because they don’t care, but because they really haven’t thought too much about it.
Or they like the food they’ve been eating and haven’t yet faced a compelling reason to change.
Or they feel that they’ve made changes “to healthier food” but, in fact, are still eating mostly processed and packaged food.
Or they tried a couple of things that didn’t work for them, so they stopped trying at all.
Or they think they’re too busy, too budget-strapped, too … something.
Or, sometimes most importantly, they don’t know where to start.
So, here’s where to start:
That’s right, every single change you make that moves you closer to a real food diet is a good one. And you don’t have to change everything at once. You don’t have to be perfect all at once (or ever, for that matter). You don’t have to wait until you’ve learned all there is to learn before you make changes.
Start reading the ingredients on those packages you buy. I’ll be saying lots more about this in posts to come, but if you’re not used to doing so, just start reading the ingredient lists on anything you buy that has an ingredient list. In my experience, a lot will change simply as a result of your becoming more aware of what you’re eating.
Look at packaged and processed foods you’re used to buying and eating and think whether you could replace that with a non-processed alternative. While I firmly believe that most people, in time, really can replace nearly all packaged and processed foods in their diet and still live in the real world, start with whatever seems simplest and most acceptable to you.
Could you consider eating a piece of fruit at snack time rather than a candy bar? Could you imagine fixing homemade chicken nuggets for the kids where you could control the ingredients? (By the way, this is actually super easy to do, and they freeze well!) Did you know that with a stick (immersion) blender, home-made mayonnaise is crazy-easy and you can choose to use better quality eggs and oil and no strange additives? Speaking of eggs, any chance you could buy local pastured eggs? (Our local health-food stores sell local eggs.)
Start picking organic whenever you’re faced with a choice and the price difference isn’t huge. At our local grocery store, there’s a “store-brand” of organic foods that is often only pennies more expensive than the nationally-advertised brands of the same item. Those are easy choices, but you’ll only make them if you start actually looking and comparing. There is lots to be said about organic food and plenty of posts will be coming on this but in the meantime, you know what, just start! If you pick organic when you have a simple choice, just do it. You can “refine” those decisions later.
Organic produce? Acquaint yourself with the “Dirty Dozen” and start there. Sadly, the worst of the produce tends to be the very fruits and veggies we’re most likely to buy. Don’t feel like you can afford to change all those things over to organic? Change one or two. (And don’t worry too much about the Clean Fifteen. In concept it’s a great counter-point to the Dirty Dozen, but truthfully if you do what you can to buy organic—or not buy at all—when faced with the Dirties, the Cleans will somewhat take care of themselves by default.)
Don’t worry about doing it wrong. About the only thing you can do wrong is to do nothing at all because you’re worried that you won’t get it all right! 😉