Hi friends! Are you thinking about adopting a real food lifestyle? Or are you past the thinking stage and ready to start but don’t know where to begin? Advice and tips are everywhere these days, thanks to the trusty — or not so trusty — internet, and it can get confusing. Nutrition is probably the only field where one can prove opposing theories true. With that said, I think we need to go back to the basics and trust our common sense. Because for me, most of it is common sense. And it can be for you to! You just have to ignore all the nonsense and stick to a few basic principles.
We need to stop complicating nutrition and breaking everything down so much. We are beating this stuff into the ground and making it more complicated for ourselves. Of course there is a time and a place for the nitty-gritty; we do need to understand the science of it after all, but I think we have created this unfortunate habit of taking it a little too far. People end up getting confused, frustrated, and just lost in it all. Therefore, they end up throwing their hands in the air saying, “I can’t do this. This is too much. I can’t keep up.” But when you follow a few basic principles, you will see how easy it really is and how it all leads back to basic common sense. So I’ve done a little research and some of my findings were happily stumbled upon in my free time — I peruse sites dedicated to running and holistic health just for fun. So let’s begin and take a look at what I found.
1. How to get started on real food.
Start small. What I always try to tell people who are working on making a change is to start small. Set maybe two small goals that you can achieve at a time. Give yourself two weeks to carry out these goals, then try to tackle a new one. Two weeks later, another. And keep going until you have implemented the change you want. These goals do not have to be crazy or extreme like eliminate everything that isn’t organic from your home. That is extremely overwhelming. I am not even at that level. I’m not even sure I’ll ever be at that level.
So what is an appropriate small change to make? Take a look at your lifestyle and acknowledge any “processed habits” you may have: do you drink soda? do you frequently eat fast-food? do you buy a number of snack foods at the grocery store? A good first goal to have is to limit your intake of processed foods and beverages. If you are a soda drinker, your first goal can be to have 2 sodas a week, max. After two weeks, see if you can go with 1 soda and then 0. It may be a challenge, but you will be better for it. Also, keep in mind that your first two weeks does not call for you to quit cold turkey. Instead of focusing on the fact that you only get 2 sodas, focus on the fact that you will be drinking soda. Change your perspective.
If you frequently visit fast-food joints, I am going to recommend that you replace those fast-food meals with real meals. Period. As much as I hate soda, I think I hate fast-food more. There’s no particular reason behind it, they are both awful for you, but I think it’s easier to replace a fast-food meal with a delicious real-food meal. There are more options. When trying to replace soda with a natural alternative, people can be very picky and sometimes difficult to work with. Why? Because sugar is addicting and soda is loaded with sugar. Diet soda? Loaded with artificial sweeteners that are worse than real sugar and make you want more soda. So weaning yourself off the soda and kicking the fast-food to the curb would be my advice. However, if you are a rockstar and ready to ditch the soda right off the bat, then be my guest! Some natural alternatives are fruit enhanced water or fruit enhanced seltzer water. This will be 100% natural carbonated water. No flavors. No ingredients. No additives. Infuse it with your own fresh fruit like lemon, lime, strawberries, and even mint. Delicious 🙂 Plus, it will quench your thirst and be more refreshing. And those processed snacks? Replace them with fruits, vegetables, smoothies, organic granola bars, organic tortilla chips, organic yogurt, organic granola, and other reliable snacks. For packaged foods you can snack on and trust, check out my post Snack Attack! Part One: Out and About. Part two, with homemade snacks and goodies, is coming your way soon!
Ready to take it up a notch? You’ve ditched the soda, fake iced tea (you can easily make your own if you love iced tea, it doesn’t have to be something you give up), fast-food and processed snacks, now let’s get a little more into it…
2. Make your food real, whole and organic (majority of the time).
Does your food have an ingredient list? Then be cautious. Read it. Make sure the ingredients are pure and whole, not things concocted in a lab. Try to build your diet on rich, nutrient dense whole foods — majority of which do not have a label.
- organic produce = vegetables + fruit (anything with a thick peel that you do not ingest, you can get conventional if you want)
- organic whole grains [organic oats, quinoa, brown rice, organic sprouted bread]
- organic/grass-fed meat and dairy products [full fat organic dairy: yogurt and milk]
- healthy fats and oils [coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter, organic grass-fed ghee and coconut ghee, avocado, nuts and seeds]
- superfoods [chia seeds, flaxseed, hempseed, cacao, maca powder, fermented foods, kombucha, chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, goji berry]
- try to eliminate GMOs
This may sound like a lot, but just break it down and try to tackle one step at a time. Here’s a great article, from Kirsten at Cheerfully Imperfect, on how to get started on real food by implementing these changes. Quick tip: when you are shopping, shop the perimeter of the store and avoid the middle aisles. That is where you will find most of the chemically laden processed foods.
Worrying about conflicting information? “Eat whole eggs!” “Use coconut oil!” “Fat will kill you.” “Saturated fat is horrible!” It goes on and on. Like I said, nutrition can prove true a lot of conflicting information. The only trust-worthy truth teller is time. And over time, we have been advised to avoid fat, especially saturated fat. Well, where are we now? Fatter and unhealthier than we have ever been. Except, that’s all starting to change. There is a major real food movement going on and it is awesome. More people are learning that fat, especially saturated fat, will not kill you. In fact, it has a multitude of health benefits. It just has to be from the right source.
So, here is an article with the top 5 contenders for the worst nutritional advice in history. The contenders are:
- Throw away the egg yolks, the most nutritious part of the egg
- Everyone should eat a low-fat, high carb diet
- A calorie is a calorie
- Use polyunsaturated vegetable oils for cooking
- Replace butter with margarine
If you already eat plenty of fresh natural produce, you can kick-up your real food mission by going against these ^ rules. Conventional nutrition has pushed this advice for years and it has gotten us nowhere. Therefore, it is best to:
- Eat the yolks! Eggs are nature’s multivitamin. They are a source of life and contain healthy cholesterol. Do not worry about the yolks.
- Eat the fat! Healthy sources of fat are: organic/grass-fed meat and dairy, coconut oil, sustainably sourced palm oil, extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, organic/grass-fed butter and ghee
- Know that all calories are not equal. Real food will always, always be better than processed foods. No matter the calorie count.
- Use butter, ghee and/or coconut oil for cooking. Olive oil can be used at low temps, 200 degrees F and below (best at room temperature stored in a cool, dry and dark place).
- Always choose butter. I also like to use organic grass-fed coconut ghee because I loooove the taste, especially on a piece of toast 🙂
Runners: are you thinking, “How am I possibly supposed to fuel myself for my hard and long runs eating like a bird?!” You will not be eating like a bird, and you will be nourishing your body so well that your running will probably benefit from implementing these changes. While it is best to eat a majority of fresh produce, you should be eating plenty of whole grains, fats, meat, milk and dairy — as pure and natural as you can get.
Here are some great tips for runners from an article that I stand behind 100% — How Good Nutrition Can Fuel Your Running.
- Cut out processed foods. We’ve talked about this ^.
- Stop obsessing about the protein. While protein is important, you do not need to go crazy. Try to eat a little protein with each meal and you’re set. I like to have a meal sized green superfood smoothie with protein after my runs and workouts.
- Flood your body with nutrients. My post-workout green superfood smoothies do just this: flood my body with nutrients. This is how I like to recover and refuel. Bonus: berries, which are filled with antioxidants, are awesome post-workout because the antioxidants battle any free radicals and toxins that could be floating around your body after an intense workout. I usually toss a few whole strawberries into my smoothie and enjoy a small handful of blueberries while I put my smoothie together. Juices are also a great way to flood your body with nutrients!
My favorite juices: raw and organic (fresh or cold pressed)
- greens + apple + orange + lemon + ginger
- beet + carrot + orange + apple
- sweet potato + carrot + orange + pear… utterly life changing
If you need more convincing, here’s an article from the runner’s bible itself, Runner’s World: The Healthy Runner’s Diet.
The 6 rules of The Healthy Runner’s Diet:
- Eat seeds or foods made from seeds
- Eat 5 different colors of fruits and vegetables daily
- Eat plant foods with their skins intact
- Drink milk and eat milk products that come from [organic grass-fed] animals
- Eat foods that cold from [fresh] cold water
I have one word to say to these rules — YES!! Do these things and you are golden. See how all these things have overlap? That’s the common sense! Practice it, live it and before you know it, everything will become so second nature that you won’t even have to think about it.
I hope this wasn’t overwhelming, but I felt that all of these points and articles were really important to grasping the entire picture. Hopefully you see the overlap and how sticking to a few main points will keep you healthy, happy and fueled up for whatever you have ahead of you. Eat up, drink up and enjoy.
Good food. Good tips. Good moves. Good for you.
xo Kim, Running on Good
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the following posts regarding real food and avoiding chemicals by my blogging friends from around the web:
- Foods That Reduce Inflammation and Other Pain Relief Strategies by Mind Body Oasis
- How to Grow Your Own Greens by Ribas with Love
- Toxic Chemicals in Food Packaging by Lindsay Dahl
- Natural Flu and Cold Remedy & Prevention by Overthrow Martha
- How to Make Almond Milk by Ribas with Love