What does a “real food diet” really mean? Spring Energy is known for its standard of real food ingredients to fuel our bodies during both rambling adventures and the hardest efforts. Real food ingredients, of course, are food that come directly from nature, unrefined, keeping all their inherent nutrition intact from macronutrients (like fiber) to micronutrients (such as vitamin C and antioxidants). Eating real foods is just as important beyond the training session in order to optimally fuel and nourish our bodies, keeping us going for the long haul. Eating healthfully does not need to be overly complicated, as long as one has some foundational guidelines. Here is my compiled list of staple principles. If you implement these, you will be eating pretty darn well. You will likely feel pretty darn good too!
1. Eat for steady blood sugar
- Keeping steady blood sugar is crucial for steady energy levels, proper brain function, and disease prevention. Blood sugar problems can result in diabetes, obesity, hyperactivity, and is even a high risk factor in heart disease. Refined carbs and sugar itself spike blood sugar, inducing an overload of insulin (the helper molecule to bring glucose into cells), faster than the cells can use. Excess sugar and insulin in the blood stream cause damage to arterial walls, inflammation, and more. Further, excess sugar and refined carbs are turned into fat, or triglycerides, in the liver and is then stored as fat throughout the body.
- Remove or limit refined sugar and refined carbs in the diet. An occasional sweet or treat is wonderful, but these should not be an overwhelming part of the diet as they have damaging effects over time.
- For referencing specific foods, use Glycemic Load as it is actually more relevant than Glycemic Index. GI refers to how a set amount of carbohydrates in a food affects your blood sugar, but GL takes into account how many carbohydrates are actually in a food or serving one would actually eat, being a more functional number. For example, do not be frightened by watermelon's GI of 80. It's GL is only 5!
2.Stay away from those “bad fats”
- You hear it all the time, but what does it actually mean? We can dive in a later post into the depths of goodversusbad fats, but the jist is that many of the fats prolific in the Standard American Diet are highly processed, oxidized (or rancid), and therefore highly inflammatory to the body and truly wrecking havoc.These bad fats include highly refined vegetable oils that are prolific in the processed food industry and often used in restaurants: margarine and partially hydrogenated oils (the worst, containing trans fats), vegetable oil, canola oil, soy oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and more. The polyunsaturated fats in these oils are very delicate and prone to oxidation (inflammatory to the body and produce free radicals). The intense processing of commercial oils includes extremely high temperatures and pressure, bleaching agents, and chemical emulsifiers. These oils are then exposed to further damage during food processing such as frying.
- All of these refined vegetable oils mentioned above are extremelyhigh inOmega-6s. Omega 6 is an essential fatty acid, however, it must be balanced in a proper ratio by Omega-3s. Otherwise it creates a highly inflammatory response in the body.
- Conventionally raised meats, eggs, and dairy contain unnaturally high levels of Omega-6s as well since they are fed unnatural grain, corn, and soy diets instead of lush green grass, alfalfa, and insects. Essentially, an unhealthy diet for an animal creates an unhealthy food when we consume it.
- Choose good fats: organically raised or wild animal products, extra virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, grass fed butter, ghee, nuts, seeds, avocado, and coconut. Treat these fats with care, choose quality products, and avoid high temperatures/smoking in order to keep them well intact.
3. Eat the rainbow of whole foods
- This is a way of saying eat as many plants as possible! Diversity, though, is key. Plants do not only include vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but they are full of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are by name “plant” compounds (or nutrients) with brilliant properties for the body, such as chlorophylls, bioflavonoids, carotenoids. There are over 25,000 phytonutrients and they are what give plants their radiant colors, unique flavors, and distinct aromas. Different classes of phytonutrients all do different things in the body, for example, having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They assist other nutrients, hormones, and enzymes and support biological functions throughout the body. They are not considered necessary to life as are vitamins, however, they have huge health promoting and disease preventing (or reversing) properties. This is the reason for the “rainbow” prescription for healthy eating. By eating a wide array of plant foods we are getting nature's beautiful balance of nutrients available. Give in to your instinct for bright colors and reach for the bright berries, sunny sweet potatoes, blushing beets, and darkest chocolate. Often, the darker or richer the color, the more phytonutrients the plant food contains. For example, orange sweet potatoes have more phytonutrient power than the pale variety and purple cabbage has more punch than green, although green cabbage still has its own benefits.
- Artificially colored cereals, popsicles, fruit snacks, and candy are trying to tap into our natural attraction towards colorful foods, but these processed foods are lacking in any superpowers. They do quite the opposite actually as they stress the body (see Number 5).
- Antioxidants combat oxidative damage, especially important for athletes who induce high amounts of oxidative stress through exercise. (The Standard American Diet also creates oxidative stress from “bad fats”, chemicals/toxins, and sugars.) Beyond recovery from training, antioxidants are constantly working in the body. For example, flavonoids promote healing and protect the structure of blood capillaries while carotenoids enhance the immune system, are converted into Vitamin A, create radiating skin, and are necessary for eye health.
4. Get comfy in the kitchen
- These days, it can be a challenge to eat healthfully without making your own food at home. This is not to say it can’t be done, but most restaurants cook with the cheap, unhealthy vegetable oils we talked about in Number 2 and add excess sugar and/or salt for memorable flavor. Restaurants most commonly use conventional, low-quality animal products unless they make a prideful point in doing otherwise. Farm to table and organic restaurants are best options. The pre-packaged food industry is obviously booming, but these foods whether frozen entrees or individually wrapped snacks are the most common culprits of health deteriorating fats, sugars, artificial food additives, and preservatives. These convenience foods can have a place in the diet, however, buy your snacks at natural food stores and make it a habit to read the ingredient list (see more in Number 5).
- Cooking nourishing food for yourself and your loved one(s) is an extraordinary labor of love. Cooking is something humans have done since the beginning of our evolution. It does not have to be a chore but an exciting time to try new recipes, new foods, or comfy classics while slowing down, being present, and spending time with others. Food is medicine but also culture, creativity, delicacy, and celebration. Once you embrace spending a little more time in the kitchen I promise you will find it to be fun, rewarding, and satisfying. Warning: you may develop high standards for quality and an elevated taste palate for real foods such that poor quality and “frankenfoods” have no appeal to you anymore. Perhaps, it gets your creative juices flowing and you find yourself saying, “I can make that!” when eyeing the hummus or chocolate chip cookies at the store.
- Do not feel like you must make your own food 100 percent of the time or not try at all. Small steps and tilting the ratio of cooking more while eating out less will do wonders for your health. Perhaps invite your friends over for dinner rather than eating out at your regular restaurant.
5. Reduce toxic exposure
- Toxic load refers to the total amount of toxins one is exposed to that have a harmful effect on the body. Toxins inhibit proper functioning, deplete nutrient stores, and damage the body’s detoxification processes. These all set the stage for inflammation to fester and can contribute to the development of chronic disease. Toxins in foods include pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides from conventional produce; antibiotics and hormones in conventionally raised animals; chemicals and artificial food additives such as food dyes, bleaches, and preservatives from highly processed foods and meats; heavy metals in some seafood. Toxins accumulate in adipose fat, remaining a toxic source inside the body and ultimately wreaking havoc when not combated by antioxidants or the body’s detoxification systems.
- Buying organic, especially the Dirty Dozen list put out by the Environmental Working Group will reduce pesticide exposure. Eating grass fed or pasture raised organic animal products will avoid toxins of the meat industry. Reading ingredient labels and avoiding listings with numbers (sign of lab-made chemicals), nitrates/nitrites, parabens, phosphates, diacetyl, artificial colors and flavors, potassium bromate, BHA/BHT, and aluminum is a good place to start. These are noted by the EWG as being endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, known carcinogens, or linked to multiple diseases.
Written by Kelly Wolf; Certified Holistic Nutrition Candidate, Ultrarunner, and Inspirator of the Spring Energy WolfPack
Let your child try one single-ingredient food at a time at first. This helps you see if your child has any problems with that food, such as food allergies. Wait 3 to 5 days between each new food. Before you know it, your child will be on his or her way to eating and enjoying lots of new foods.How do I start eating real food? ›
Let your child try one single-ingredient food at a time at first. This helps you see if your child has any problems with that food, such as food allergies. Wait 3 to 5 days between each new food. Before you know it, your child will be on his or her way to eating and enjoying lots of new foods.What should I eat if I want real food? ›
Real foods include animal products like beef, pork, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy, and plant-based foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. Real foods are filling when you eat them in combination with each other because they contain protein, fiber and water.What is the 123 method for food? ›
Get six servings by eating: 1 serving with breakfast. 2 with lunch. 3 with dinner and snacks.What are the 11 real foods? ›
These are fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs, meat, fish and poultry. “This is food that nourishes us,” she says.Why do I not feel like eating real food? ›
Mental health conditions, like anxiety, depression, and stress, can all have a negative effect on hunger levels. Other physical conditions, such as pregnancy, hypothyroidism, and more, can also cause a decrease in appetite.What does a no processed food diet look like? ›
An unprocessed food diet means different things to different people. But in general, eating foods that are unprocessed to minimally processed like fruits, veggies, eggs, meat, seafood, and natural fats leads to positive health outcomes and may be worth a try.What happens to your body when you stop eating processed food? ›
When you stop eating processed food and carbs, there will be a sudden drop in the amount of sugar or salt that you were imbibing. This could result in fatigue, irritability and headaches as your body takes time to adjust to the change.What is the 90 10 rule in eating? ›
The 90/10 principle is when 90% of the time you follow your healthy meal plan guidelines closely, while 10% of the time you are free to loosen up and eat what you truly enjoy. Think of the 10% meals as your cheat or free meals.What is the 20 rule eating? ›
The 80/20 rule is a guide for your everyday diet—eat nutritious foods 80 percent of the time and have a serving of your favorite treat with the other 20 percent. For the “80 percent” part of the plan, focus on drinking lots of water and eating nutritious foods that include: Whole grains. Fruits and vegetables.
How it works. Food held between 5°C and 60°C for less than 2 hours can be used, sold or put back in the refrigerator to use later. Food held between 5°C and 60°C for 2-4 hours can still be used or sold, but can't be put back in the fridge. Food held between 5°C and 60°C for 4 hours or more must be thrown away.What is the most faked foods? ›
Milk. Milk is one of the most faked foods, according to the Food Fraud Database, with the most famous instance of deliberate contamination occurring in China in 2008.What is the 5 to 1 rule diet? ›
Here's how the 5:1 rule works. Simply look at the ratio of grams of carbohydrates to grams of dietary fibre. Divide the carbohydrates by the dietary fibre. You want a 5:1 ratio or less.What is the single most complete food? ›
"The only food that provides all the nutrients that humans need is human milk," Hattner said. "Mother's milk is a complete food. We may add some solid foods to an infant's diet in the first year of life to provide more iron and other nutrients, but there is a little bit of everything in human milk."Should I force myself to eat if I have no appetite? ›
Should you force yourself to eat if you have no appetite? If you find yourself having no appetite for a short period of time, it may not be necessary to force yourself to eat. If your loss of appetite is paired with other symptoms of being sick, such as vomiting, forcing yourself to eat may make you feel even worse.Why am I hungry but don't want to eat anything? ›
When you lose excessive body water through sweat, you may feel you are hungry, but, at the same time, may not want to eat. We all have bad days and feel sad. Depression or sadness for longer periods can lead to the absence of appetite.What to eat when nothing tastes good? ›
Foods to try if nothing tastes good:
Try adding slices of fresh fruit to water if you find you have difficulty drinking enough. Try fruit popsicles in various flavors. Fruit sorbet or sherbet is also an idea. Experiment with spices and herbs.
Unprocessed or minimally processed foods: Think vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, meats, seafood, herbs, spices, garlic, eggs and milk. Make these real, whole foods the basis of your diet.Is canned tuna a processed food? ›
Foods processed at their peak to lock in nutritional quality and freshness include canned tomatoes or tuna, and frozen fruit or vegetables.Is peanut butter clean eating? ›
Unfortunately, a LOT of the peanut butters out there contain a lot of added (and refined) sugars, added (and uneccesary) oils, and salts, among other unneeded ingredients which make them not a clean peanut butter option.
CHOOSING THE BEST CHEESES FOR CLEAN EATING
Buy actual cheddar, actual havarti, or gouda. There are so many options out there! The safest bet is always the block or wedge. If you can afford organic, that's always the better option, but not essential.
Oatmeal: All forms of oatmeal—steel cut and old-fashioned, too—are considered processed, but they're all very healthy and great for your diet. What's maybe not so great? The boxes of flavored instant variety. Most of them are loaded with unnecessary salt, sugar, and artificial ingredients.How long does it take to detox from processed foods? ›
You should still be prepared for some negative effects, though. “Some people will experience withdrawal symptoms within the first day and for up to a week, which may include mood swings, cravings, anxiety, headaches, and poor sleep,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Shena Jaramillo.What is the 8 16 eating rule? ›
The practice of 16/8 intermittent fasting involves limiting your intake of foods and calorie-containing beverages to a set window of 8 hours per day. You abstain from food for the remaining 16 hours, though you're still allowed to drink water and other no-calorie beverages, like plain coffee or tea.What is the 8 meal rule? ›
It involves consuming foods during an 8-hour window and avoiding food, or fasting, for the remaining 16 hours each day.What is the 20 4 fasting rule? ›
20/4 intermittent fasting is an advanced version of intermittent fasting: you fast daily for 20 hours and eat within a 4-hour window. The health benefits are similar to other intermittent fasting methods, but 20/4 intermittent fasting also carries some risks.What is the 5 2 diet rule? ›
There are different versions, but the 5:2 diet involves eating a normal, healthy diet for five days every week and 'fasting' on the remaining two days. On a 'fast' day, you would typically consume between 500 and 600 calories.What is the 70% rule for eating? ›
The 70/30 rule. Here's how it goes: weight loss is 70 percent the foods you eat, and 30 percent exercise. Therefore, it's not scientifically possible to eat everything you want and lose weight—even with a 'magic pill' in place. Lose weight the honest way—with a food and exercise plan that makes sense.What is the 3 3 3 rule for eating? ›
With that said, here is how to use the 3/3 Rule. On the food label, look for the three must undesirable nutrients first. These are saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium (salt). Then look for the three most desirable nutrients: protein, dietary fiber, and unsaturated fat.What is the 222 rule leftovers? ›
Remember the 2-2-2 rule
This is the most important thing when it comes to leftovers to ensure they are safe to eat. Make sure you cool them, cover them and get them into the fridge within two hours of cooking. Eat your leftovers within two days. Either eat them cold or heat them until they are piping hot.
Do you know the 2-2-4 rule for food safety? 2 is the maximum number of hours your meal can be at room temperature before you need to refrigerate or freeze it. 2 is also the number of inches deep you should store your leftovers. 4 is the most days food can be kept in the refrigerator.What was the only edible food that never goes bad? ›
Honey. Honey has been called the only food that truly lasts forever, thanks to its magical chemistry and the handiwork of bees. The nectar from flowers mixes with enzymes inside the bees that extract it, which changes the nectar's composition and breaks it down into simple sugars that are deposited into honeycombs.What is the king of superfoods? ›
Mushrooms have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years, with evidence of fungi as a staple of Stone Age dietary habits dating back as far as 19,000 years ago.What is the strongest superfood? ›
Spirulina is the most powerful superfood on the earth. It has been used for its health benefits for thousands of years, and now it's become the most popular supplement in the world. It's rich in many minerals and vitamins and is the best plant-based source of complete protein.Can I train myself to like a food? ›
“It is possible to learn to like tastes that a person finds unpleasant”, he says. If you're a super-taster, of course learning to like foods might be harder. The first trick is to find out if you are one. Guy has studied super-tasters and says, “Paper test strips are available for determining if you are a super-taster.What happens if you don't eat real food? ›
It's reported that some people have been able to survive up to a week with no food and no water. In some situations, people may be able to survive longer if they consume water. People who have experienced starvation may have long-term health effects. Starvation eventually becomes fatal, if food is not reintroduced.How long does it take to learn to like a food? ›
"Familiarity breeds liking," Phillips says. "Exposure to any food over and over produces liking – in neophobic 3-year-olds, this takes about 20 times. So although exposure works, it is tough love." When trying to learn to like a given food, she recommends eating it regularly for at least two to four months.What organs shut down first when starving? ›
The body attempts to protect the brain, says Zucker, by shutting down the most metabolically intense functions first, like digestion, resulting in diarrhea. "The brain is relatively protected, but eventually we worry about neuronal death and brain matter loss," she says.How long can you go without food realistically? ›
In general, it is likely that a person could survive between 1 and 2 months without food. As many different factors influence the length of time that the body can last without food, this period will vary among individuals.What is Orthorexia? ›
Orthorexia nervosa is perhaps best summarized as an obsession with healthy eating with associated restrictive behaviors. However, the attempt to attain optimum health through attention to diet may lead to malnourishment, loss of relationships, and poor quality of life.