100 Days Of Real Food – Still Going StrongThu 28 Aug 2014
Story by Lisa Leake, 100DaysofRealFood.com
A few years ago, I shared my family’s journey with you as we embarked upon our “100 Days of Real Food” pledge. After getting the wake up call of my life in 2010, I thought this self-imposed challenge would be a great way to both overhaul our diets and draw attention to how dependent people have become on processed food. Our transition to real food was not easy at first, but the idea was this - if we could do it then we could inspire others to follow suit.
We eventually got the hang of no white flour, no sugar, nothing out of a package with more than 5 ingredients, and no factory farmed meat. And even though I basically had to relearn how to food shop and cook, this new routine eventually became our “new normal.” The funny thing is though, I thought I was going to blog about our journey for 100 days and then move on with my life. But our pledge unexpectedly had such a big impact on me personally that here I am 4 years later still with so much to say.
I’ve actually taken what we’ve learned over these last four years, along with a bunch of brand new recipes, and included them in my new cookbook, 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love. In the book you’ll also find loads of resources including a school lunch packing chart, a real food substitution chart, seasonal meal plans (with shopping lists included), tips for eating real food on a budget, and advice for getting reluctant family members on board.
It’s important to remember though that cutting out processed food doesn’t have to be all or nothing - because any small changes in the right direction are better than none.
With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Read ingredient labels.
You don’t even have to make a trip to the store to start doing this – just open up the cupboard! Reading ingredients is the number one way to know what’s in your food and how highly processed it is. Aim for packages with 5 or less whole ingredients that are familiar and you would cook with at home.
2. Buy 100 percent whole grain products.
A lot of packaged products will claim to be made with whole wheat or grains, but few are 100 percent whole grain. This reaches beyond bread too – think pasta, rice, crackers, buns, croutons. Be sure to avoid unnecessary additives and preservatives. When it comes to bread I either make my own or buy fresh, five-ingredient bread from a local bakery, which tastes much better than any whole wheat bread I ever bought out of the bread aisle!
3. Switch to organic dairy.
If you need to prioritize what you can buy organic then don’t overlook dairy. You can’t peel or wash off your milk like you can produce, as Dr. Oz likes to say, so it’s best to go organic. Choosing organic dairy helps you avoid products from animals treated with antibiotics and hormones – just remember, you are what you eat eats, too!
4. Eat more produce.
Listen to your mom – eat those vegetables! If they’ve never been your favorite, try fresh and local fruits and veggies, not the mushy stuff from a can. Stop by the local farmers market, swing through the store’s organic produce section, or start your own backyard garden. Try some new recipes and some new foods. Eating more whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, will help displace some of the processed stuff from your plate.
5. Get your kids in on it.
Offer your kids more real food. As a parent, we have a big say in what food we provide for our kids – after all, they can’t go to McDonald’s all by themselves! Offer them the right real food options, and their response might surprise you. You may even see changes in their behavior – I’ve heard from parents who have seen drastic improvements after removing artificial dyes, refined sugar and processed food from their kids’ diets. Don’t be intimidated by thinking healthy snacks are more work – you can peel a banana just as quickly as you can open a bag of chips!
I hope these simple tips can help you get started on a path to healthier eating. I’d love to hear your tips for cutting out processed food in the comments.
About the author: Lisa Leake is a wife, mother, foodie, blogger, and author who chronicles her family’s journey on 100daysofrealfood.com as they seek out the real food in our processed food world. What started as a simple pledge has turned into a valuable and practical resource that’s now read by millions around the globe. Lisa has appeared on Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, CNN, and The Doctors TV Show.
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