Real food nutrition is based on a framework of consuming real, nutrient-dense foods from high quality sources. Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, traditional fats, and nuts and seeds are the five basic food groups that are included in a real food nutrition template (you can read more about this in Part 1 of this series). Food sources and quality are important when it comes to the food you are consuming. There are also some modern “foods” that you’ll want to avoid.
Food sources and quality
Modern farming practices have left our food supply devoid of nutrients and full of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals. Real food nutrition supports sustainable, local, organic, and humane farming methods. When buying foods from the five basic food groups, look for these key phrases:
- Meats, Poultry, Seafood, & Eggs: Grass-fed, Pasture-raised, Organic-fed, Wild-caught, Sustainable, Free Range
- Vegetables: Organic, Local
- Fruits: Organic, Local
- Traditional Fats: Unrefined, Unprocessed, Cold-Pressed, Organic, Pastured, Grass-fed
- Nuts & Seeds: Organic
The vast majority of your food should be homemade and prepared from scratch or from reputable sources that you trust. When you purchase anything that comes in package, you must carefully screen the product for ingredients that do not fit the real food nutrition framework.
What to avoid when following real food nutrition
A real food nutrition template eliminates all processed and refined foods, foods that contain antinutrients (components that prevent the absorption of nutrients), foods with proteins that are difficult to digest (such as gluten and casein), and foods that contribute to inflammation and metabolic dysfunction in the body. This includes:
- Grains and Pseudo-Grains– Including (but not limited to) refined grains such as cereals, breads, muffins, sandwiches, and pasta, and whole, unprocessed grains such as wheat, buckwheat, corn, rice, barley, rye, and quinoa. Of these, white rice is the most benign and less difficult for the body to digest. Properly preparing grains (soaking and sprouting) can also reduce or eliminate their potentially harmful effects.
- Legumes– All beans, including peanuts (which are a legume and NOT a nut). Again, properly preparing legumes by soaking them can help to make them more easily digestible.
- Processed Dairy– Including milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream.
- Refined Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners– Including white sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, refined honey, refined maple syrup, agave, Splenda, Nutrasweet, or any other sweetener that has been man-made or processed.
- Refined Fats/Oils and Most Vegetable Oils– Any oil that is hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, refined, or otherwise processed including canola oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and rice bran oil. Any manmade fat such as margarine/buttery spreads.
- Anything that contains preservatives, food additives, or artificial-anything– This includes most items that are pre-packaged or pre-made. Check the labels carefully for any preservatives or additives. Also, be very careful with certain beverages including energy drinks, juice, shakes, smoothies, presweetened coffee drinks, certain types of alcohol, etc.
So, that is real food nutrition in a nutshell! What questions do you have?