Real food in an overly processed world

Real food in an overly processed world

In the history of time, I doubt there ever was a society so consumed with the thoughts, pleasures, and guilt of what goes into our body.  Food has become so much more than a means to provide necessary energy for life.  Food is social, cultural, pleasurable, and loathsome.  We seem to crave what is “bad” and hate what is “good.” What we need is real food.

While I could easily go on a rampage concerning the reasons behind our issues with food, I find it much more calming to focus instead on how we can adopt a more healthy relationship with the food we eat. (Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll have my “rampage” days, too).

The first step is to recognize the purpose of real food.

Even more than just looking at calories as a means for energy, real food can be healing and nourishing.  Despite our society’s desire to break food down into simplistic categories such as fat, carbohydrates, protein, and calories; the reality is that our scientific understanding of how our bodies process food has just scratched the surface.

The good news is that you don’t have to be up to date on the latest scientific discovery to know how to eat well. This is good because science changes its mind every day as to what we should and should not be eating.  If we look at civilizations from across the globe and throughout history, we see that many societies lived and flourished on a variety of diets.  While not every society in the past was able to live a healthy “food” lifestyle (usually do to some form of malnutrition—not getting enough of what the body needs), nothing seems to compare with the horrible health problems in our nation today. They have spiraled out of control over the past fifty or so years (think: obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease… just to name a few).

image by Tom Konie

Before I go any further, I should remind you all that I am not a nutritionist. I have done a lot of research on the subject of food and nutrition.  However, no research or study compares to the real changes I have experienced in my own health and body as I have adopted these basic rules:

Eat real food.

That’s the first, most basic step.  Real food doesn’t come in a wrapper.  Real food doesn’t come with an ingredients list.  Real food doesn’t have to mask itself with labels such as “all natural,” “fat free,” and “healthy.”  Real food is grown, cared for, and requires that we know how to prepare it. Real food takes time.

Eat as seasonally and locally as you can.

The concept of seasonally eating is becoming more popular, but it’s not a new idea.  The majority of people who have lived on this planet throughout the ages did not have access to a mega mart where they could buy any fruit or veggie they wanted.  Refrigeration, exportation, and synthetic preservatives are new ideas.  I’m the first to admit that I enjoy the fact that I have access to things like coconut oil all year long, but when the majority of our food we eat is grown seasonally and locally we are doing both our bodies and our ecosystem a favor.

Eat a variety.

The chemical makeup of food has amazing effects on our body, especially when they are eaten in their most natural state (go back to rule #1).  Again, most of our ancestors didn’t worry about getting a certain number of vitamins or minerals a day.  They ate real food that was available to them.  The more variety in your diet the more “good stuff” to go around.

Listen to your body.

Our Standard American Diet (SAD) is full of refined and processed carbohydrates with very little real nutrition inside of it.  This is why it is so easy to eat so much and still feel like we want more.  Our body wants more because it needs more—more nutrition.  Filling your diet with nutrient dense real foods will help stave off cravings… but it will take time. (And for the record, real food is really, REALLY delicious.)

Eat when you are hungry.  Stop when you are full.  Listen to what your body needs rather than what your tongue craves.  We don’t need to worry about calories, points, or other counting devices to tell us how much we should eat. Our body has a built in system for managing our intake, if we listen.

Eat slowly.

Really taste your food.  This will not only help you listen to your body’s natural signals, but you may find delightful new tastes and textures that you’ve missed all these years!

Don’t let food become an enemy.

When we are eating well, we have every right to indulge every now and then (although you may find that what you crave changes drastically once you change the way you eat).  We need food.  What we don’t need is a constant guilt trip when we eat. Be careful not to get too trapped in the web of advice out there. Keep it simple. Make real food enjoyable.

Start slowly and keep going.

If these ideas don’t seem basic to you, then I suggest taking it one step at a time.  Maybe apply the rules to just one meal a day.  Maybe work on your cooking skills so that it doesn’t feel too overwhelming right at once.  Change just one aspect at a time until it becomes part of your lifestyle.  And above all, don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake.  You can have your cake and eat it too.  (Even better if the cake is made with real ingredients and doesn’t come from a box.)

 

Looking for quality real food ingredients? Be sure to the check out the Village Green Marketplace!

 

(top featured image by Tom Konie)

This piece is from the “original” Thank Your Body Archives. Originally posted January 1, 2011. Updated and improved for your reading pleasure.

NOTE: Due to an never-ending cesspool of spam, I have made the tough decision to close comments 14 days after the original posting of all posts. If you have a burning question or are looking for support in your journey to healthy living, please join the Thank Your Body Friends facebook page here.


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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie

9 comments

  1. Dancing Branflake

    I am trying SOOO hard to eat healthier. The thing that mostly eludes me is eating in season and locally. I have a hard time branching out with new fruits and vegetables unless they’re prepared for me (new recipes freak me out). Definitely need to visit the Farmer’s Market weekly.


    1. Post author
      robin

      I think it’s important to just take baby steps for real change. Start by eating less processed food. Then move to organic. Then seek out local farmers. Once you’ve found local farmers you’ll almost be “forced” into seasonally eating. :)

      As far as the new recipes thing, I totally understand. I’m such a wimp sometimes when it comes to trying new foods. Start with some new side dishes that are paired up with your “tried and true” main courses.

      1. Sarah

        I have been reading your blog for a while now and it has helped me so much! I am in the very beginning stages of my real food journey and I have so many questions. One that I am wondering based on your comment here, when you say “seek out local farmers” do you mean going to a farmers market? Or do you actually drive to farmers that you’ve connected with to buy from them? If that’s the case, how did you initially seek out farmers and build relationships with them? What do you look for when buying from them?


        1. Post author
          Robin Konie

          Starting with a farmer’s market is great. Talk to them, find out where they are and if they offer anything other than just what they sell at the farmer’s market.

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  5. Lauren

    I love this article, I’ve been eating vegan and gluten free (thats just a technical term though since i mostly just don’t eat anything processed) for about six months and I love it. I’m curious though what your opinion of canned goods and frozen foods are. Like canned spinach has to be processed, but it’s still spinach…. Have you cut out everything that’s not fresh?


    1. Post author
      robin

      I think canned and frozen are fine “compromise” foods, and definitely better than eating no veggies. I would ALWAYS put frozen above canned, though… as the nutrients are higher and you don’t have to worry about BPA from the cans.

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