Eat Real Food and Never Diet Again
“I am going on a diet,” remarked the woman in front of me at the supermarket check-out. She didn’t seem overly enthused about her upcoming dietary challenge. In fact, she seemed nervous and sad.
She can’t remember a diet she didn’t try. Exasperated with her weight gain, she indefinitely removed certain food groups from her meals and methodically calculated calories only to hit a plateau or regain the weight.
Wait, didn’t I just read an article on Huffingtonpost.com about this exact issue that resonated with me? The article quoted Tim Church, who is an obesity researcher and professor of preventive medicine, “If you can’t eat a certain way for the rest of your life, that diet is an exercise in futility.”
I stood in the line that day and quietly watched this lady entrusting her health to foods marked with labels like “lite,” “low-calorie,” “100 calories per package,” and the hallowed “zero calories.” I tried to offer an encouraging smile, for her continued endeavor is commendable.
My heart wanted to say to her, “time-out,” just come back to my house for a month and eat real food. No measuring or weighing of food. The only rule is to eat real food. Eat naked foods that aren’t clothed in layers of unpronounceable ingredients.
A New Normal
So as my kitchen guest, she would “eat the rainbow” because color has a fundamental effect on our daily lives. Whether it is in the way we assemble our wardrobe or adorn the walls of our living room. Color plays a huge role in our food as well. A real food diet is a colorful one.
She would learn to experiment with different meal plans as long as they originate from real food. Eventually, after eating a variety of real foods, she will decide what works best for her.
While I’ve never struggled with my weight, I do know what it is like to be ill from a disease that tries to annihilate the immune system and wreak havoc on the neurological system. I know that along with prayer and supplements, whole foods helped to heal my body.
Easy, Inexpensive Steps to Take
- Eat your meals instead of drinking them. You pay your dentist hefty sums of money for a reason so that you can use your teeth for what they were intended: chewing. There is nothing wrong with smoothies or juicing but not as a substitute for food.
- Eliminate white sugar and any sugar produced in a lab. If you want to occasionally sweeten food then prudently use honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or dates. A safe benchmark when it comes to sweeteners is to use what is derived from nature. I am certain that the powdery white stuff in the yellow and blue packets don’t fall into this category.
- Exercise self-control. If certain foods trigger specific emotional responses, then seek the help of a professional to work through those issues. Get to a point where food is not any enemy but a tool gifted to you by God for your health and enjoyment. Dieting can often lead to an unhealthy relationship with food because the focus is on the rules and foods that you can’t have.
- Enjoy real food. There is only one rule and that is to eat clean, real foods in their natural form and color. As I have conversed with people about a real food lifestyle, some associate real food with organic food. While eating organic food is the ideal, the reality is that not all of us can afford to eat that way. Eating organic is another level of a real food lifestyle, perhaps the next level for you.
At our house, we go organic when it comes to the “dirty dozen.” If I have a little extra in the food budget, then I might extend our organic food list beyond just the dirty dozen. What works for us is to grow and preserve as much of our food as possible. Because we live on a farm, there is little excuse for us not to produce and grow the majority of what we eat.
Even though you don’t live on a farm, you can access locally grown produce through farmer’s markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). In our area, many people rent a garden plot from farmers. Renting a garden plot from a local farmer allows a family to grow their own produce and maintain control over what they grow.
Develop New Habits
I am going to provide a meal plan to get you started. It’s not a mistake or laziness that I didn’t include links to each recipe like I did for the Whole30 meal plan. My goal is to get you into the habit of scrutinizing recipes and learning to cook with real ingredients.
Here are some suggestions: meal plan
- Use my meal plan as a template to hunt for real food recipes.
- Scrutinize the ingredient list of every recipe. If there is one ingredient that is not real, reject the recipe and move to another one. At the end of this post, I will include some of my favorite real food sites for you to visit.
- Avoid using any “pre” of any form: pre-cut veggies, pre-packaged mixes, etc. This is about changing habits. No shortcuts yet.
- Be as colorful as possible with each meal.
- Remove all fake food from your kitchen and pantry. Use the Real-Food-Kitchen-Checklist and Real-Food-Pantry-Checklist available on this site to overhaul your inventory.
- Kick the soda habit, it falls into the processed food category (I’m certain soda is a Franken food).
- Avoid packaged bread and baked goods unless you make them from home milled flour.
Okay, I am a softie, here is one real food recipe you can use for lunch or dinner.
Rainbow Spring Salad Niçoise
The Real Stuff:
2 1⁄2 pounds of roasted red potatoes, quartered
1 pound of fresh green beans
2 bunches of mixed salad greens of your choice
6 hard boiled eggs, quartered
2 cans of albacore tuna or salmon (preferably Wild Planet)
1 container of cherry tomatoes, halved (I like to use heirloom varieties)
1 cup of an olive mix (kalamata, Nicoise olive mix, or good quality black olives)
How to Prepare the Real Stuff:
The Roasted Potatoes
Roasting the potatoes makes them crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
Preheat oven to 425°
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place quartered potatoes in a large bowl. Set aside.
Mix 3 tbsps of good quality olive oil, 2 tbsps of whole-grain mustard, pinch or two of sea salt, and 1 tsp of black pepper. Wisk together and drizzle on potatoes. Toss to coat. Spread potatoes on baking sheet.
Then, roast for 50 minutes or until tender. Let cool.
Place the following in a food processor:
1 tsp of dried parsley, dried oregano, and minced garlic
1⁄2 tsp of dijon mustard
1⁄2 tsp sea salt
1⁄4 tsp of black pepper
3 Tbsp of Champagne vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar
Pulse until mixed.
Slowly drizzle (emulsifying) 10 Tbsps of quality olive oil into the shoot of the food processor.
Putting the Good Stuff Together
Arrange the salad mix on a large platter or in a large bowl. Add the green beans, tomatoes, olives, eggs, and cooled potatoes in sections. Drizzle vinaigrette over entire salad.
Real Food Resources
Real Food Sites:
Real Food Reading:
What are your experiences and struggles with dieting? Does eating real food as a lifestyle offer a reprieve from fad diets?