Eating Real Food…Where to Begin?

With all the different diets and opinions on what makes the perfect diet, it’s really hard to figure out what a person really should eat. Are eggs good for you or not? What about fat, is it good or bad? How about grains, should we eat them or not? It can all be so confusing and really frustrating to figure out. So how do you figure it all out?

Well, for me, it all began with a lot of reading and research. I remember when I was looking something up for Mom that was related to Dad’s cancer, I clicked on one of those “related” articles that showed up on the bottom or side of the article I was reading. I don’t remember what that article was about, but as I was reading, another “related” article caught my eye. It was about synthetic food dyes and how they can cause sensitivity in children. As I read more and more about dyes, I put two and two together and realized it might be what’s causing Miley’s fits. Once we eliminated, them, especially red 40, her behavior and happiness improved. After that I became obsessed over reading everything I could about it, and eventually one “related” article lead to another “related” article and I discovered that preservatives and additives in processed foods can also cause sensitivities and allergies for people. In fact, I believe that most people probably do have some sensitivity to those things, it’s just they don’t realize that’s what’s causing it. For example, headaches, PMS, depression, inability to focus, insomnia, and tiredness are just a few of the things that can be caused or made worse by synthetic dyes and preservatives. From my own personal experience, I went from having headaches several times a week to hardly ever having one once those things were eliminated from my diet. I sleep better, and have noticed I don’t have that foggy brain feeling like I used to.

Next I began to wonder, what exactly is a healthy diet? Before the switch I relied on a lot of canned, boxed and frozen foods to create meals. I tried to cook most of the meals instead of eating out or buying premade frozen meals. So for the most part, I felt I had a pretty good idea of what a healthy diet is. (I plan to cover more about what our meals looked like then vs now in a future post.) As I learned more about what’s in foods, I really began to wonder if I what I thought was a healthy diet was really healthy. I started reading more about whole food diets and found a good book called Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It goes into detail on the problems of our modern day diet and how it’s lead to chronic diseases, which can all be improved by going back to a more traditional diet. It’s a really good read that was a real eye opener for me.

Another great resource for me when I was first starting out is the Heavenly Homemakers blog. She has lots of real food resources including quick and easy recipes with five or less ingredients, tips on budgeting, meal planning and what to look for when choosing real foods. I went through all her recipes online and printed up everything I thought my family would like and put it all in a notebook. It became my go to while we were in the transition time and it was a huge lifesaver. She also has various printable real food cook books for sale. I’ve bought a lot of them and find them very useful.

One other resource I find helpful is the 100 Days of Real Food blog. They were inspired to switch to a real food diet after reading Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food. (This, by the way, is another great read.) There are lots of great recipes and information on what’s in processed foods and why it should be avoided on their blog. The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot and The Best Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot are two of my most favorite recipes from there. They also have a cook book, 100 Days of Real Foods, that’s very helpful and the best part about it is most of the recipes include easy to find real food ingredients. I’ve checked it out from the library several times and we’ve enjoyed every recipe we’ve tried so I’ve added it to my Christmas wish list.   🙂

One thing to keep in mind as you research is it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged. There is a ton of information out there, a lot of it is conflicting, and people have their opinions, so it’s easy to get confused. The most important piece of advice I have is to do your own research, come up with the best plan for you and your family and go with it. One person’s idea of the best diet won’t necessarily be the same as another. For example, the family on 100 days of real food has cut out all processed food and made that their priority. I really admire that and would love to be able to that but it’s just not realistic for our family. I don’t always have the time, money, resources to find the things I need, plus I have a hard time getting the whole family on board to cut out processed food 100%. For my family, I find it easier to aim for eating real food about 80 to 90% of the time. At home we try to eat mostly real food, choosing organic and homegrown as much as possible. When the budget is tight, we don’t always get organic. If I buy anything processed, I read the labels and choose the one with the least amount of ingredients and try to avoid anything with a lot of ingredients I can’t pronounce or wouldn’t normally cook with. When we’re invited to others’ houses, parties, or just want to go out to eat, we don’t worry about avoiding processed foods other than the kids do watch out for food that contain the dyes they are sensitive to. I find it’s the perfect balance for us at the moment.

Once you’ve done research and have decided the best plan of action, the next step is to change out all the processed foods with real food. Be sure to check back soon to see the steps we took to do that.

My little guest blogger is currently working on a new post that should be ready soon. Plus we’ve got a winter project we’re working on, and we’ve been slacking off on it, so we haven’t gotten it started as soon as we should have. So be sure to check back because we’ve got lots of new stuff to share.


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2 thoughts on “Eating Real Food…Where to Begin?

  1. Dara Pickens

    I love this post Shelly! I too have checked out 100 Days of Real Food from the library and thought it was great. I am with you though that trying to do that 100% is not realistic and can be a real budget killer. Like you I figure if I aim to eat “real” food most of the time I am happy with that. The one thing my husband and I have been going around and around on is “whole grains” since he read Wheat Belly. Again I just find cutting out all wheat so unrealistic and I enjoy some yummy carbs now & then!


    1. Shelly Post author

      Thank you, glad you enjoyed this post. I’m glad that I’m not the only one struggling at trying to find a good balance on the subject of whole grains. Ha ha! I’ve also read Wheat Belly and at one point believed all grains were evil. I went 9 months wheat, but not grain free. It was an adventure for sure! It became exhausting trying to always figure out what to eat plus the family wasn’t all on board with it. It became unrealistic for us for sure! I plan to blog about that whole experience soon.



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