Real Food Rules


Real Food RulesHow can you make better choices when going to the grocery store? Follow these 10 simple real food rules.

Real Food Rules 

  1. Choose local/organic produce whenever possible.
    This means the produce has been grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. If you can’t afford to buy all organic produce use the Dirty Dozen list to help you avoid the most contaminated. *Tip* when looking at a produce sticker, conventional produce starts with the number 4. Organic produce begins with a number 9 and genetically modified produce starts with a number 8.
  2. Opt for 100% whole wheat or whole grain products.
    Look for the word “whole” in the ingredients. (i.e. whole wheat flour instead of just wheat flour).
  3. Choose foods that are NOT genetically modified.
    Corn and soy are the 2 most genetically modified crops, so always buy organic when products contain either of these two ingredients.
  4. Do not buy foods that contain artificial ingredients, artificial flavors, dyes or preservatives.
  5. Choose sweeteners such as raw honey, 100% maple syrup, coconut sugar or stevia instead of white sugar. Dates also make a great natural sweetener.
  6. Drink water, tea, fresh pressed juices or whole food smoothies. Limit coffee. If you do enjoy coffee choose organic and fair trade.
  7. Shop local whenever possible.
    Join a CSA or visit your local farmers market. Better yet, go straight to the farm. Take a look around, ask lots of questions and learn exactly what you are eating.
  8. Buy foods with 5 or less ingredients.
    Make sure they are all ingredients you can pronounce and you would most likely have found in your great-grandmother’s pantry.
  9. If you choose to consume animal products, limit it to 1-2 times per week.
  10. Animal products:
    -Grass fed meat is best as cows were designed to eat grass not corn.
    -Buy meats that were raised without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones or other drugs.
    -Avoid factory farmed meats.
    -Wild caught fish.
    -Eggs and chickens that are pasture raised.

Need more help figuring out how to eat real food? Start by making these simple real food swaps.

Until next time, keep it real.

Simple Real Food Swaps

Simple Real Food SwapsEven when you are aware that making a switch to real food is the right thing to do, it can sometimes be a struggle. What do I buy? Where do I start? Does this fit within the rules? I know that confusion well, as I was once brand new to real food. It’s taken me 3 years of baby steps to get to where I am now. Each day I seem to learn something new which is a constant reminder that it’s a lifelong journey into a real food lifestyle, full of daily decisions to pick health over convenience.

The best way to dive into a processed food detox is to start replacing common foods with their real food counterparts. It’s pretty safe to say that any recipe you use can be turned into a healthy meal by just swapping out ingredients for their real food equivalents. Let’s take a look at some simple real food swaps you can start with.

  1. Artificial sweeteners and white sugar
    Over time, sweeteners have crept into a large variety of products such as salad dressings, boxed cereals, spaghetti sauce and flavored drinks. We can’t seem to get away from them and they are linked to a whole host of different problems including weight gain, headaches, depression, chronic fatigue and more. The good news is there are many other natural forms of sweeteners. Try raw honey (local if you can find it), coconut sugar, stevia or 100% pure maple syrup. As always, no matter what sweetener you choose, natural or not, consume in moderation.
  2. White flour
    Refined white flour has very few redeeming qualities as all the positive traits of the whole grain have been stripped away. When a recipe calls for flour, choose a whole grain flour instead. Whole wheat, white whole wheat, spelt flour, almond flour, oat flour, brown rice flour or coconut flour are all good alternatives. Often mixing a few flours will give the recipe a different flavor and consistency so some adjusting may be in order.
  3. White rice
    White rice, at one time looked exactly like brown rice, but has been stripped of iron, vitamins, zinc, magnesium and other nutrients during the refining process. Choose rice in it’s whole form by buying brown rice. Or better yet, try quinoa or make cauliflower rice for something different.
  4. Boxed cereal
    Many boxed cereals are loaded with preservatives, artificial colors, sugar, salt and empty calories. Opt for oatmeal which comes with a short ingredient list (just oats!) and will keep you full until lunchtime. Top it with fruit and nuts for an extra nutritional punch.
  5. Sugary snacks and chips
    When hunger strikes make sure that you have some smart choices on hand. Grab a handful of raw nuts and seeds, stove top popped popcorn, fruit or veggies. In a pinch you can also grab a Larabar which is made out of dates and nuts. Check out my list of 40 real food snacks for more ideas.
  6. Processed salad dressing
    Heading to the salad bar is a great choice for lunch but salad dressings are loaded with scary ingredients helping to prolong shelf life and give it that creamy consistency we all love. Try some balsamic vinegar or 1/4 of a mashed avocado mixed with 1/2 fresh lemon juiced and save yourself from the added junk offered up in your favorite bottled brand.
  7. Soda, bottled juice or sports drinks
    Hydration is important but before you go grabbing a can of soda, bottled sports drink or juice, remember it’s mostly filled with sugar. Go for water, fresh squeezed juice, green smoothies, pure coconut water or, for a special treat, try fruit-infused water.
  8. Flavored yogurt
    You will run into problems when you eat yogurt sweetened with added flavors. One cup of a “fruit sweetened” yogurt can have some 30 grams of sugar. That’s equal to 7-8 teaspoons! Instead, buy plain whole milk grass fed yogurt and sweeten it with local, raw honey. Better yet, skip the dairy and make a chia yogurt from 1 cup plant-based milk, 3 T chia seeds, 1 date and a splash of vanilla extract. Blend and chill for about 2 hours.
  9. Conventional meat and eggs
    Look for animal products that are local, pasture-raised, grass-fed, and antibiotic-, hormone-and pesticide-free. Stick with wild caught fish. Remember, animal products should only be eaten 1-2 times per week with plant foods making up the bulk of your diet.
  10. Iceberg Lettuce
    Aside of it’s water content, iceberg lettuce just doesn’t have a whole lot going for it. Choosing greens that are dark and vibrant provide you with more vitamins and nutrients to fuel your body. I’ve always been a big fan of adding more greens to our diet so start experimenting and find your favorites!

Everyday you have the power to chose how you will fuel your body. Making simple switches like these can help transitioning to a real food lifestyle much easier. 

Until next time, keep it real. 

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