The biggest hurdle for me has been making better food choices. For me, specifically, that means trying to eat less processed food. Now, this is the part where a disclaimer comes in. I have not managed to cut out ALL processed food. However, when I'm shopping, even if it's processed, I try to choose wisely.
Throughout this journey, I've found some great resources about eating "real" food. My favorite has been 100 Days of Real Food. This family has managed to cut out almost all of their processed foods, which I find absolutely inspiring. However, due to some limited shopping choices in my area--no Whole Foods, Central Market or Trader Joe's for well over 30 minutes in each direction--it's been about making continual adjustments that work for my family. I have taken some of her basic tenets to heart: look for fewer ingredients on labels (the less you can't pronounce, the realer the food). Eat MORE VEGETABLES. Think ahead and plan.
Ok, so I know you're ready for examples and strategry (it's a word now, thanks SNL).
1. I figured out the foods I cannot buy. Case in point, Doritos! I love them. I will eat the whole bag. I do not buy Doritos anymore unless it's a special treat or a mini bag. Talk about processed and FULL of salt. OMG.
2. I eat anything I want...in moderation, and preferably homemade. Pancakes, check! Muffins, check! Hamburgers, check! Stuff that is "bad" for us is far less bad when it's homemade with real ingredients. A muffin in a package is chock full of preservatives and preservatives are poison. This is the most basic tenet of my weight loss. I make my muffins homemade with great ingredients. Not nearly as "bad" as what I'd buy in a store. And cost effective!
Another problem of mine is having veggies on hand. We're bad about not eating them fast enough to avoid spoilage. Now I buy in bulk from a local veggie farmer and I immediately break the produce down to freeze when I get home or over the course of a weekend. Some items store well for extended periods of time, like onions or butternut squash in a cool, dry place.
I also opt for frozen veggies as opposed to canned -- less salt and other additives. I've found I can put a pile of frozen broccoli or cauliflower in a lunch container with my meat of choice, and by the time the whole thing is heated, the veggies have steamed and the meat is hot. Easy packing.
I have a veggie Pinterest board. One of the hardest things for me is keeping vegetables interesting. I depend on this.
Ever looked at a honey label??? One ingredient: honey. That's about as real as it gets. Try cutting the sugar required in a recipe by half and fill in with honey. I also use honey as my sweetener of choice in oatmeal and other foods where it's appropriate and will melt nicely.
Now it's time for you to try some real food recipes that you'll love. I've tried these out ahead of time, so trust me. :)
Pumpkin pancakes courtesy of Recipe.com. These have a small amount of sugar in them and there's nothing you can't pronounce in the batter. That's a huge improvement over boxed or bagged mixes. I'm one of those folks who likes a small amount of syrup (processed!), but I did say I haven't cut out all my processed -- just cut DOWN on a lot of it. You could also drizzle these with honey or top with fruit. I'm also a fan of sneaking any kind of veggie puree into my pancakes. The kiddo never knows the difference.
Healthy chicken gyros from The Girl Who Ate Everything! These were a lot of fun to make, the sauce was great on other dishes, and it doesn't get much realer. My kiddo even ate this up.
Broiled grapefruit!!! From someone brilliant!!! OK, so this one popped up on Pinterest, and I don't know where it originated. But this was seriously delicious. I've never been a big grapefruit fan, but with a little sprinkle of brown sugar, and a few minutes under my broiler, it was flavorful and delicious. I stuck it with a side of bacon for that sweet/salty contrast. Again, no processed except for a tiny amount of sugar. Even bacon is "real food."
I've made SO many more recipes than this, so you'll have to take a trip through my Pinterest boards...including my To Do Soon and Completed Pins. Not everything there is real food-centric, but many of them are.
While we've done much better eating real over the last year, I do have a couple of goals for 2013:
1. Cut down on refined sweeteners (Sweet-n-Low!). I default to this for my coffee, but if we're talking real food, regular sugar would probably be better for me (in moderation still).
2. Start buying locally/humanely/organically raised meats. It's more expensive, but given the moderation with which we eat meat, and the way I've taken to freezing stuff, I think we could swing it.
3. Re-institute veggie meals! For a long time I tried to eat vegetarian meals 2-3 days per week. This is an environmental thing, but it's also a real food thing. And it's an adventure!!!
4. Grow veggies!!! There are raised beds and seedlings in my future.
That's about all for today, but I'll be back with more once I organize my thoughts!!! Have you taken any steps toward eating more "real" food?
I have to say, since we started this, I have a keen sensitivity to canned/boxed/highly processed foods. Yuck and NO thank you!