The Only Diet You Need is a Real Food Diet.
Diets are trendy. Your diet (your way of eating) should be about feeling your best, not about fitting in with other people. Diets are attractive because they make us feel like we belong and give us a sense of community. We find like-minded eaters on social media, and complain with coworkers about how we can’t eat the donuts in a meeting. Let’s be real, just “eating well most of the time” isn’t super glamorous or conversation worthy. Or is it? Instead of Whole30, keto, paleo, IF (intermittent fasting), or whatever new diet will pop up in the short days between when I write this and when you read it, what if we just got excited about real food.
Food is delicious, nourishing, satisfying, and a lot of the time, very good for us. Instead of agonizing over when and what we can’t be eating, lets obsess over all of the amazing foods we can eat. Enter the Real Food Diet. Nothing trendy or crazy with this one though. To me, a Real Food Diet has 4 components:
Choose whole unprocessed foods most of the time. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and seeds should not be coming in packages, but should be fresh and waiting for you to prepare in whatever way you choose. For example, instead purchasing processed frozen burritos for lunches, you cook your own burritos at home and freeze some for later.
Label reading. Check the ingredient list of the packaged items you do buy. For real it is pretty much impossible to avoid all packaged goods but we can do so in a way that supports our real food goals. Look at the ingredient list to identify items with the shortest ingredient list and/or with ingredients we can find in our kitchen. For example, a marinara sauce could be made at home but is time consuming. Choosing a store bought sauce is a much more efficient, I look for an ingredient list that mimics what I would put into a sauce I made at home. There isn’t high-fructose corn syrup in my kitchen, so it shouldn’t be in my sauce. And, for a protein-packed snack on-the-go, Health Warrior Pumpkin Seed Bars are just pumpkin seeds, honey, and spices!
Shop seasonally. Our real foods are more nutritious when they are in season and haven’t spent excessive time in storage or transit. Visit your local farmers market for the best seasonal produce so you know it is fresh and as nutrient dense as possible.
Cook. This is the most important component of a Real Food Diet. You MUST get in the kitchen. Yes, there are ways to enjoy whole, real foods at a restaurant or other establishment, but nothing can replace some food preparation at home. Understand your food, what it tastes like, how to prepare it. There is no shame is a YouTube search for how to cut and peel a butternut squash.
There you have it – real food is something to be excited about! Who knows, maybe your friends will agree and there can be a new, more positive diet chatter.