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Whenever I look at other “Real Food” blogs, I often see an explanation of the author’s idea of what “Real Food” entails. I think this is helpful and I’ve decided to add a little “Real Food Manifesto” to my blog as well.
I gave up healthy eating
We began cooking and eating the way we do after I read Nourishing Traditions. I’d spent my whole adult life eating a “healthy” low fat diet, including lengthy periods as a vegetarian and a short period of time (6 months or so) eating a vegan diet.
I was thin and healthy looking, but I was also lethargic, dealt with frequent, severe depression and digestive issues. I thought I was eating a healthy diet, but when I read Nourishing Traditions it just made so much sense. Instead of counting calories, grams of fiber and fat and milligrams of sodium, I should be eating foods with maximum nutrient density.
I was the world’s greatest label reader, but that was a big part of my problem! So much of my food came from a box or a can! And while I ate lots of fruits and vegetables, my body was being starved of the healthy fats it needed. When I did eat fat, it was in the form of canola oil, which I thought was a good choice.
Since we have switched to a flexible traditional diet, I have more energy, my moods have improved and I no longer deal with digestive issues.
How we eat now
Now instead of fearing fats, we actively seek out the most nourishing fats. And they are mostly saturated!
For cooking we use:
- Lard and bacon fat from pastured hogs (this is a GREAT source of Vitamin D, and also only 40% saturated fat! Did you know it is mostly monounsaturated!)
- Tallow from grass-fed cows and
- Coconut oil
- Grass fed butter and ghee
For salad dressings we use:
- Organic extra-virgin olive oil
- Avocado oil
We never use canola or other vegetable oils now. They are rancid, laden with gmo’s, and not stable at high temperatures.
While I used to believe the ideal diet was plant based, I now believe that we are designed to be omnivores. There has never been an indigenous culture that was strictly vegan. All traditional cultures incorporate some form of animal products into their diet.
Now we mostly eat:
- Wild caught sustainable fish
- Pastured beef (we have started buy in bulk, annually)
- Pastured poultry
- Pastured pork
- High quality dairy products from grass-fed cows
- Eggs from pastured hens
- Soaked nuts and legumes
While we have been transitioning to a place where we can eat 100% pastured, appropriately fed meat, we have continued to buy some conventional meat. I talk about that in this post.
We do our best to eat all organic produce. We have joined CSAs, bought in bulk, we often buy frozen produce, and have even attempted to grow our own. We still sometimes need to buy “the clean fifteen” in order to feed everyone.
I used to buy the bread with the most fiber I could find and the least sugar. While that was actually a pretty good start, I was missing an important step.
Grains, nuts and legumes need to be soaked, sprouted or soured in order to reduce phytic acid.
Now we mostly eat:
- Either sourdough or sprouted bread
- Rice that has been cooked for a looooong time, usually in bone broth
- Soaked grains
We don’t use white sugar or buy foods with high fructose corn syrup any more. We use sweeteners sparingly. The sweeteners we have in our cupboard are:
- Raw Honey
- Grade B Maple Syrup
- Coconut Sugar
The 80/20 Rule
We try to eat this way at least 80% of the time, but sometimes it’s not possible. If we go to someone’s house for a meal, we eat it. If we want to go out to eat, we don’t worry about it. If we’re having a lean financial month, we do the best we can. The 80/20 rule isn’t there to make sure we eat conventional food 20% of the time, it’s there so we don’t beat ourselves up for “falling off the wagon”.
How the Transition to Real Food Has Affected Our Family
Since our family has made the transition to a Real Food lifestyle, we rarely get sick. I have more energy and less general health complaints. We’ve learned how to do things like ferment food and brew kombucha. We’ve discovered lots of local Real Food gems. We’ve become more aware of what is in our grooming products and started making those too. It’s been a fun transition in many ways, definitely not an easy one, but worth it, and we have no plans of going back.
What about your family? Has transitioning to an unprocessed diet changed anything for you?
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