Registered Dietitian Nutrition Counseling-J.Nutrition

A holistic approach to health and wellness

Just Eat Real Food

It’s an unfortunate reality that when we question the authenticity of many products lining the supermarket shelves, we’ve likely entered a grocery in America. Like many other media outlets, supermarkets have been plagued by the marketing and consumerism frenzy sweeping the nation.

Just eat real food- it seems simple until we really reflect. What does real food look like in a supermarket today? Where are the impostors? Impostors may be real food LIKE products sprinkled with authenticity, while heavily laden its additives.

You may be questioning my sanity as you peruse this article. You may think- if it’s edible, I must be just eating real food. But are we? Let’s examine a few products and their composition for better illustration.

Many of the products below are those that emerged with the best intentions but have undergone transformation. They may or may not fit in the realm of “real food”depending on your level of skepticism. Mine is high, because it’s going into my body and I’ve only got one!

Reasons manufacturers may alter food composition include to improve shelf stability or enhance flavor for consumers. Unfortunately, the burden of these changes may fall onto you, your body, and your health. Here are a few strategies to stay ahead of the food changing game, and develop the best strategies in just eating real food.

How to just eat real food when it comes to grains:

just eat real food-choose tortillas with whole grains and no hydrogenated oils.

just eat real food-choose tortillas with whole grains and no hydrogenated oils.

Tortilla: If we consider foods such as tortillas many products have added hydrogenated oils in order to create the desired texture of a fluffy and folding tortilla. Hydrogenated oils are synthesized products (not naturally occurring) that act like trans fat in our body. What this means health wise is it could potentially contribute to elevated blood pressure and cardiovascular issues if consumed in excess. My philosophy with food is simply less is more- if we can do away with unnecessary additives lets do just that. Just eat the real deal.

Reading the ingredients label will help you be an informed consumer and just eat real food when it comes to the tortilla. Look for products that do not contain hydrogenated oils, or a lot of preservatives. The ingredients list should be simple. You should understand the majority of the label.

I encourage looking for whole grain products. Whole grain products are wheat (or other grain) products that have not been stripped of the germ and bran and contain the original fiber. There is no better way to just eat real food than eating food in its God given form such as whole grain products. All the rest- are impostors.

Breads: When it comes to breads I encourage again choosing the product in its purest form-whole grain. With both bread and tortillas one good rule of thumb is to look for whole grain or whole wheat as the first ingredient on the ingredients list. Aside from whole grain there are a few other things to consider with breads.

Just eat real food by avoiding breads with added sugar such as high fructose corn syrup.

Just eat real food by avoiding breads with added sugar such as high fructose corn syrup.

While breads typically do not contain hydrogenated oils, manufacturers have utilized other ways to try to create their desired consistency and preserve shelf life (this does NOT mean this also need be your goal of selecting a slice of bread). Many manufacturers have included high fructose corn syrup to breads. High fructose corn syrup is a synthetic sugar which is created by modifying the fructose content in a more traditional form of sugar. If you want to just eat real food-just skip the breads with the high fructose corn syrup on the ingredient list.

How to just eat real food when it comes to produce:

Many foods without a label are just about as real of food can get. This would include things like fruits and veggies, and even delving into spaces like the bulk food section. When it comes to advocates of just eating real food, produce pretty much speaks for itself. However, there are a few things produce can’t tell you.

• Chemical pesticides are used on the majority of produce. Produce should be washed thoroughly before being consumed.

• Produce labeled organic does NOT mean that no chemical pesticides were used, or even that there was a lesser amount of pesticides used than the non-organic produce. There are varying levels of “organic” and the general term could mean a certain percentage of non-organic products are allowed to be utilized. Again, always wash your produce.

• At this time there is no concrete scientific evidence to support that organic produce has more nutritional benefit than non-organic produce. In fact, produce sourced closer to the grocery store which is fresher and may be non-organic may contain more nutritional benefit than organic produce. This could happen because the organic produce must travel further and thus lose a percentage of nutrients with age.

• Researching growers versus trusting simple terminology such as organic. A little research may be very beneficial in your goal to just eat real food. Many growers that are NOT labeled as organic are actually following many organic practices. However, growers may not go through the process of being labeled as organic as it is a costly, lengthy process with many regulations.

If you truly wish to just eat real fruit, canned and frozen are also good options. Make sure that you are examining labels on these products and that canned fruit is canned only in its own juice versus light or heavy syrup which can be laden with excess sugars or high fructose corn syrup. If you just want to eat real food, just eat the real fruit without added sugars and sauces.

Another good rule of thumb when it comes to fruit in foods is to add your own fruit versus products which come with fruit added. The example I’m thinking of is yogurt with fruit. A lot of the time fruited yogurts also contain added sugars or high fructose corn syrup for preservation purposes as well as taste. Adding your fruit ensures you get all the nutrients you need without all the added sugar.

How to just eat real food when it comes to protein:

Meat: Make sure your meat products just include the meat. Many frozen meats contain additives such as sodium or even sugar sauces or monosodium glutamate (a mind altering substance added as a flavor enhancer). These are intended as a preservative or to enhance flavor.

Peanut Butter: The moral of the story here is that many major peanut butter brands are loaded with sugar and hydrogenated oils to create that creamy consistency. These are all additions your body doesn’t need. Get back to the basics- just eat real food by grinding your own peanut butter from real peanuts. Many groceries have this option. If you’re not able to do that, look for natural peanut butters that only have peanuts in the ingredient list.

Cheese: Cheese is an easy go-to snack without a lot of additives that serves. It serves quick fix to just eat real food. However I encourage you to purchase cheese blocks and shred or chop yourself as needed. If you’re currently purchasing shredded or sliced cheese, I encourage you to look at the ingredients list. You’ll notice quite a few more ingredients than your block cheese as preservatives are commonly found here. Remember less is more when it comes to food ingredients.

I challenge you to just eat real foods when it comes to every food groups. Can you think of any ways you might cut down on additives or preservatives when it comes to the structure of your plate? Are there some great strategies you’re already using? You can definitely just eat real food by choosing food in its freshest, most natural form as frequently as possible. You can also get closer to food in its most natural state by being mindful of nutrition labels. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Just eat real food by going without a label. Or checking it twice!

Just eat real food by going without a label. Or checking it twice!

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