The most nutritious meals that are best for one’s health will always have fresh and quality real food. However, these days it’s becoming more difficult to include them in our everyday diet.
Nowadays, most people’s diets have become overrun with processed foods like cured meats or fast food. Keep in mind, there’s nothing wrong with snacking on burgers or using canned ingredients for your homemade recipes. After all, these options are convenient for busy people and are easy to use in cooking. However, they’re not exactly the healthiest, especially when eaten every single day.
That’s where real food comes in. In this article, we’ll answer your burning questions: what is it, what to eat, and why. We list 25 reasons why switching to a real food diet is the best decision you can ever make. It’s good not only for your health but for the environment as well.
What Is “Real Food”?
In easy terms, real food is mostly whole, unprocessed, natural food. It’s single-ingredient and doesn’t have any chemical additives like added preservatives, added sugars, flavorings, or other manufactured ingredients.
This type of food doesn’t go through a manufacturing process in order to be cured or prepared. While dieticians have no hard say on what counts as whole food or not, the general consensus is that they should be as close to their natural state as possible.
Real Food Diet: How Does It Work?
Humans have been eating natural, whole food for thousands of years already. For the longest time, we’ve only ever eaten meals made with organic ingredients.
It was only until recent history that processed food began to dominate society’s diets. At the time, it was seen as a breakthrough. It was suddenly possible to conveniently extend food’s shelf life and package them in ways that are easier to consume.
However, nothing beats eating natural and organic food as they are the healthiest form of sustenance for one’s body. So, if you have the chance to eat delicious grilled potatoes instead of deep-fried frozen fries, then go for it!
List of Real Food You Should Eat
What specific types of food is considered as real food? We’ve made a list to help you identify which ones you should eat and which ones you should avoid.
What Are Examples of Real Food?
- Fruits and Vegetables (You can buy them from farmer’s markets. They always sell freshly-harvested produce that is in-season)
- Meat and Poultry
- Beans, Nuts, and Seeds
- Dairy like milk and other minimally-processed dairy products
- Whole Grains (like pasta, oats, rice, and more)
- Water, Coffee, Tea (including tisane or herbal tea), Wine
What Aren’t Real Food?
- Fast Food
- Heavily Processed Foods (including select frozen and canned foods with heavy preservatives)
- Ready-to-Eat Food (like deli meats, and even candies and cookies)
- Prepared Food or Ingredients (such as jarred garlic, onion, or pasta sauce)
- Refined Carbohydrates (like white flour, white bread, pastries, cereals, and more, with sugars and processed grains)
How To Start Eating Real Food Daily
It might be difficult to completely avoid heavily processed foods at first. These types of food are everywhere, used in restaurants and sold in grocery stores. That’s why we listed some helpful ways that can help you start the switch from processed foods to healthy and whole food.
- List all the processed food you should avoid – Take note of all the processed food you usually eat. List all these down so you can avoid them in your daily meals. The next step would be to find healthy alternatives so you can consume those instead.
- Shop at a farmer’s market – Where else will you find fresh food than in the farmer’s market? These places allow local farmers to sell newly harvested produce and other organic products directly to customers. Not only are you getting good quality food, but you’re also helping out small businesses.
- Try more real food recipes – Learn how to use all the whole food you just bought to make the tastiest meals. There are plenty of recipes that use unprocessed ingredients to make the best dishes, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This healthy chicken nuggets recipe shows you how to make a popular fast food meal using natural ingredients. If you’re looking for more recipes, you can give our delicious Whole 30 recipes a try. See? You don’t have to miss out on your favorite meals as long as you’ve got these helpful recipes around.
- Check ingredient labels more closely – To clarify, not all canned or frozen is non-real food. Check ingredient labels closely to see if a product contains any additives, preservatives, or other unrecognizable ingredients. If it does, put it back on the shelf and find an alternative that doesn’t use as many chemicals.
- Use more vegetables in your meals – Using more vegetables is a good rule of thumb for your everyday meals. Whatever it is you’re eating, try to center your food around a vegetable. Or, try to at least include them in the ingredients. For example, if you’re craving gumbo, why not turn it into a vegetarian-friendly dish? Check out this healthy vegetarian gumbo that swaps the usual meat ingredients with yummy veggies.
- Ditch the sugar and use natural sweeteners – When you’re making coffee or tea, replace the white sugar you usually use with natural sweeteners like honey or molasses. Just use white sugar for recipes that have no other alternative for this ingredient.
25 Reasons Why You Should Eat Real Food
Now you know what real food is, what are examples of it, and how you can start this healthy diet. But why should you switch from convenient, heavily-processed food to natural food? Here are 25 reasons why!
Has Important Nutrients, Vitamins, And Minerals
Natural, unprocessed foods contain the most amount of important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you need for a healthy life. Since they are unprocessed, these foods are not yet stripped of beneficial nutrients. In fact, they’re actually a good source for the things that your body needs in order to function well.
Less Costly Long-term Wise
It’s not completely true that natural food costs more than processed foods. There are places where you can get vegetables and fruits cheaper than the ones sliced and packaged in grocery stores. Also, choosing to eat natural, unprocessed food is like an investment in your health.
Keeping a balanced and nutritious diet will significantly lessen chances of getting diseases like diabetes or obesity when you grow old. Eat healthy and stay healthy so you can avoid complications that will cost you in terms of medicine and hospital bills.
Helps You Lose Weight
How can you lose weight eating real food? These food are healthy and loaded with nutrients that are great for weight loss. And as we’ve mentioned, it helps prevent overeating too. So, eating natural food can help you lose weight without the need for grueling diets.
It’s more sustainable to eat natural food than processed foods since it produces less waste. From growing the plants or animals to packaging the end product, there’s less use of plastic, pesticides, and chemicals involved.
Good For Pregnant Women
Couples who are thinking of raising a child should consider making the switch to real foods fast. A mommy-to-be will need all the nutrients she can get in order to carry a healthy baby. And what’s healthier than eating natural, whole food?
And that’s not all. There are actually a lot of benefits pregnant women can get from going on a real food diet. It helps them avoid getting anemic, lowers chances of getting complications, and helps them heal faster postpartum.
Recommended healthy food for pregnancy include vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy, nuts, seeds and legumes. So, if you’re thinking about getting a future mom or new parents food-related gifts, make sure it has natural food.
Suitable For Everyone
The best thing about natural food is that anyone can eat it, too! Whether it’s vegans or diabetics, there’s something healthy that’ll fit their diets’ requirements. Of course, diabetics and others who have to look after their health may need additional guidance from medical professionals. Still, healthy food is very flexible and it covers a wide spread of all kinds of food.
Many Choices To Choose From
Including whole food in your everyday diet can give you a variety of meals you never thought you’d need. It gets boring eating the same old processed foods. So, up your food game by trying out all kinds of healthy dishes with the help of real food recipes.
Gives Better, Balanced Meals
Choosing to eat natural food gives you more balanced meals. You’ll have more to pick from and all kinds of food to eat. For breakfast, you can have oats with fruits, and for lunch, a healthy vegetable soup. For dinner, you can pick something hearty like a beef and veggie stew with beans to go with it. You can switch things up and get all the kinds of sustenance you need with real, whole food.
Great For The Environment
A lot of work goes into producing and manufacturing heavily-processed foods, and most have a negative effect on the environment. Rainforests are cut down to be converted into agricultural land, factories use chemicals which produce harmful wastes, and plastic packaging is rarely recycled.
Of course, not all real food is exempt from this. But with farmers’ markets and other sustainable practices, shifting to healthy diets may help lessen destructive food production.
Rich In Fiber
Fiber is an important part of plant-based food that helps clean the digestive system, boosts one’s metabolic health, and helps you feel full. According to a 1999 study, fiber also gets rid of LDL (low-density lipoproteins) or bad cholesterol. And another study in 1993 shows that it even removes bad carcinogenic elements. Eating whole foods rich in fiber, like avocados, blackberries, and seeds, are much better than taking supplements with fiber.
Less Amounts Of Bad Kinds Of Fat
Not all fat is bad. In fact, most of the “bad” fat dieticians warn you about, you can actually find in processed oils. Fat you can find in natural foods is healthy and is good for your body.
For example, omega-3 fatty acids most commonly found in fatty fish, like salmon and sardines, are good for you. They fight off inflammation and help protect your heart. A study on medium-chain triglycerides (found in coconut oil) also discovered that said triglycerides can help you lose weight!
Promotes Skin Health
Those who obsess over “skincare” will be happy to know that what you eat also factors into your skin’s overall health. Eating healthy, natural foods can help you get the perfect skin you always wanted. A diet of unprocessed foods can help resolve acne problems, prevent wrinkling as well as sun damage.
Controls Blood Sugar
If you have diabetes, you should drop the processed food and eat the real ones instead. Natural animal and plant foods can help reduce and control blood sugar levels. This is especially helpful for those with or at risk of diabetes. Paleo diets, in particular, are extremely helpful in bringing down high blood sugar levels.
Rich In Antioxidants
You can find antioxidants in all kinds of natural foods, from veggies and fruits, and beans and whole grains. These are good for the body since antioxidants help fight “free radicals” which usually damage cells.
Prevents Development Of Diseases
Eating healthy foods can reduce the chances of developing all kinds of diseases. That’s because they’re rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help maintain your body’s overall health. Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits can lead to a life free of illnesses like cancer and heart complications.
An unfortunate side effect of processed foods (especially fast food) is that it causes overeating. Of course, overeating isn’t healthy because it can lead to obesity, among other diseases.
Thankfully, whole foods don’t have the flavorings and additives that make meals addicting and cause overeating. So, when you’re running on real food, you won’t be as prone to urges to eat more than you can.
No Need For Restrictive Diets
If you find it hard to commit to restrictive diets, then perhaps trying to eat unprocessed food can help. Start your journey to fitness by committing to eating natural foods first, before you move on to stricter diets. In the end, diets will most likely only recommend you eat these kinds of food anyway. They are the healthiest and most nutritious, after all.
Good For Your Heart
Natural foods have all the important minerals and antioxidants your heart needs in order to be healthy. Also, food like eggs are a good source of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or good cholesterol. It helps lower your risk of heart diseases and even stroke!
Interested in trying a low cholesterol diet? Then check out our article: 10 Healthy Recipes for a Low Cholesterol Diet.
Less Sugar In Your Diet
Like we said, a shift to a whole food diet will restrict your use of refined white sugar. This is good news because these processed sugars are actually unhealthy for the body. Eating too much can increase your risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and heart and liver diseases.
Good For Your Teeth
Another good thing about eating natural food is that it’s good for your teeth. Additives and other manufactured ingredients aren’t so healthy for your dental health. Eventually, they may even damage your teeth’s enamel because of plaque. Eating real cheese and drinking green tea can help strengthen your teeth’s enamel and also help lessen tooth decay.
Supports Local Food Producers
Switching to eating healthy, natural foods make it easier to support small businesses and farmers that sell such products. Farmer’s markets, in particular, are hosted by local farmers and food producers. It’ll do good to support small time entrepreneurs rather than big corporations for a change.
Gets You More In Touch With Your Food
Another good thing about eating real natural foods is that it helps you get in touch with your meals more. You get to choose the food you’ll be eating from the farmer’s market. You’ll also be the one to prepare it and cook it for lunch or dinner.
This is something that you won’t exactly experience with processed foods. When you get ready-made meals, you only have to do so little to consume them. But with natural foods, you can even get to talk to the local farmer who sold it to you. You’ll understand all the hard work that goes into producing foods, and you’ll appreciate it more too.
Healthy For Your Gut
Real foods, like garlic, onions, asparagus, and bananas, has prebiotics that help turn bacteria in your gut into fatty acids. As stated, fatty acids are good for promoting heart health.
Lessens Sugar Cravings
Whole foods don’t have added sugars like the usual processed foods you’re used to eating. Because of this, eating solely unprocessed foods can help wean you off of eating baked goods like cakes and brownies. Once your body has fully-adjusted, you may even lose these unhealthy cravings altogether!
Clearer Mind And Overall Healthier Brain
Healthy, unprocessed food is loaded with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that helps keep your brain healthy. Eating healthy and staying healthy can clear your mind and greatly improve brain function. You won’t have as many mood swings and you’ll be able to process things a lot faster.
Eating real food has many benefits. You’ll have a healthier body, help out local farmers and even the environment too. So, start the switch and choose natural, unprocessed food.