By Guest Blogger, Lisa Leake, www.foodillusion.com and www.100daysofrealfood.com
Part 3 of a 3-part series
If hearing about our 100 Days of Real Food journey has you slightly intrigued, but not quite ready to go all the way by signing up for the 10 Days of Real Food pledge then this post is for you. Here are eight easy things you can do in your everyday life to help cut back on your family’s consumption of highly processed food…
1) Read the ingredients label before buying anything. For years if I even looked at food labels I was reviewing items such as fat grams, calorie count and sugar content. While this may be important to some the best indicator of how highly processed a food might be can actually be found in the list of ingredients. If what you are buying contains more than 5 ingredients and includes unfamiliar, unpronounceable items you may want to reconsider before buying.
2) Increase your consumption of whole foods especially vegetables and fruits. I am sure you have heard similar advice a thousand times, and I hate to tell you that it couldn’t be more true. This will help to displace the processed foods in your diet, and will actually make your food selections in general very simple. No more counting calories, fat grams, or carbs when your only concern is selecting whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry.
3) Buy your bread from a local bakery. I actually used to eat white bread, but what I bought for my husband from the grocery store was what I thought was whole-wheat bread. When we finally checked the ingredients and found 40 different items on the list, including white flour and sugar, we decided it was time for a change. Why would there be so many on the list if it only takes a handful of ingredients to make bread? We since started buying our bread from Great Harvest Bread Company. Not only do they grind their own wheat every morning, but their honey whole-wheat loaf only has five ingredients – whole-wheat flour, water, yeast, salt and honey.
4) In addition to your bread choice, when selecting foods like pastas, cereals, rice, and crackers always go for the whole-grain option. And don’t just believe the health claims on the outside of the box. Read the ingredients to make sure the product is truly made with only 100% whole grains – not a combination of whole grains and refined grains which is unfortunately how a lot of “whole grain” products are made. The white flour or other refined grain alternative is simply high in calories and low in nutrition.
5) Avoid store-bought products containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and those “that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients” according to Michael Pollan. Despite the mixed research on if HFCS is really worse for you than good ol’ white sugar, it just happens to be “a reliable marker for a food product that has been highly processed”.
6) Don’t order off the kids’ menu. The next time your family is out to dinner try to avoid the kids menu. Those selections are most often things like pre-made chicken nuggets, fries, and pasta made with white flour, among other things. Instead try assembling some sort of side item plate (like baked potatoes and whatever else your kid will tolerate) and/or try sharing some of your meal.
7) Try visiting your local farmers’ market the next time you need to restock your fridge. According to Michael Pollan not only will you find “food that is in season, which is usually when it is most nutritious”, but you will also find a selection of pesticide-free produce and properly fed meat products. It is also better for our environment to purchase locally grown products as opposed to the supermarket produce, which travels on average 1500 miles from the farm to your plate.
8) To once again quote Michael Pollan, he says to “eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” If you had to peel, chop and deep fry potatoes every time you wanted French fries then you might not eat them very often. Only eating “junk food” such as cakes, sweets, and fried foods that you make yourself will automatically ensure the frequency is appropriate.
Here are a few more excerpts from our 100 Days of Real Food journey that is being chronicled on 100daysofrealfood.com…
…we were waiting to get some water at a concession stand the other day. This kind of place is my worst nightmare right now with display cases full of candy bars & chips and serving hot items like chicken nuggets, fries, and hot dogs. I was hoping for a pleasant escape with our free cup of water, when I heard the dreaded “I am hungry for a snack”. Wow, I wonder where she got that idea? So of course I said “we can’t have any of this right now, and I promise I will give you something as soon as we get home.” A few moments later my 5-year-old proudly spotted a basket of bananas on the counter that I hadn’t even noticed. How could I have ever thought it was so bad to involve my children in this little project of ours when it has taught my daughter to find (and want) the one and only healthy whole food out of a sea of junk??? One thing I have learned is that after a few bumps in the road kids can be unbelievably adaptable…Click to Read More
As I have mentioned many times, being away from home (whether at a restaurant, playdate, or birthday party) has been the hardest part of our pledge so far. Up until now we have eaten an occasional meal out only to immediately return back home to our little haven of real food. But now we are about to embark upon a week-long journey where we will be surrounded by rule-breaking foods 24-7. And the last thing I want is for our “special diet” to make our trip any less enjoyable!…Click to Read More
I have to admit that so far I am not a fan of having to follow rules while on vacation. Maybe it is just me, but there seem to be ice cream shops, candy stores, coffee shops (presumably selling white chocolate mochas), and fried fish places everywhere. The people eating and drinking items from these places look like they are having loads of fun and really enjoying every bite…not that I was paying any attention. At this point I can only be thankful that my daughters have not seemed to notice (at least enough to say anything) when passing by their nemeses, which would include hot dog places and the same ice cream and candy shops that are bothering me. I suppose if I could have traveled on the plane and boat armed with my ice cream maker and espresso maker (in addition to my small suitcase that was completely dedicated to food) things would be a little bit easier…Click to Read More
Thanks, Lisa, for sharing your incredible journey to healthy living! To continue to stay updated with Lisa’s progress of 100 Days of Real Food pledge, log onto 100daysofrealfood.com and subscribe.