Monday, July 20, 2015

What is Real Food?

The first item listed on my Crunchy To Do List was to "Just Eat Real Food", and I put it first for a reason. I know if I go crunchy in no other area of my life, just eating real food will make a tremendous difference in my well-being.

A couple years ago I had some attacks of abdominal pain that put me in the emergency room. Subsequent testing never gave me a firm answer on the source of the pain, but I was ultimately diagnosed with IBS-D. Since then I have researched several differing, but often overlapping, views on what foods would improve my health and well-being. All of the diets listed below are what I would consider to be "real food" - that is, based on whole ingredients (not processed and packaged junk) and traditional foods.

The one that ended up working best for me has been paleo, which is why paleo is included in the website address for this blog. Though I've not always been on the paleo wagon (and that's one of the reasons this blog exists - is to help keep me accountable by giving myself an audience) - the stricter I have been the better I have felt overall.

Depending on your situation one of these "real food" diets might work better for you than another  - but the common ground is clear - make pastured meat, wild caught fish, natural fats, and whole fruits and vegetables the cornerstones of your diet for better digestion, reduced inflammation, clearer skin, good energy levels, reduced disease risk and better holistic health for life. I like how Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Liz Wolfe of Real Food Liz puts it as well.

Here is more information on all of these diets so that you can find the best option for you and your family.

Traditional Foods
Traditional foods include raw pastured dairy and soaked, sprouted grains and legumes as well as traditionally prepared soy (such as miso) and fermented foods. This is a great starting point and what I'd recommend for just about everyone.

Weston A. Price Foundation
Real Food by Nina Planck
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Beautiful Babies by Kristen Michaelis

If you have an autoimmune disease or issues with digestion, hormone balance or metabolism that are unresponsive to traditional diet alone, you may need to look into more limited and healing diets.

Gluten Free
Gluten free diets remove all wheat and other gluten containing grains. Gluten free grains, such as rice and corn, as well as some other options are still included in this diet; as are legumes and starchy vegetables. Gluten free does not automatically equate to real food, as many highly processed gluten free option exist, but it can be real foods based.

Living Without
Wheat Belly by William Davis
Going Against the Grain by Melissa Diane Smith
The Gluten-Free Table by the Lagasse Sisters

The paleo and primal diets go a step further in removing common gut irritating foods by limiting or completely removing dairy, grains and legumes. Some people may follow this plan 80/20 (Or 90/10, 85/15, etc.), some include dairy if they tolerate it or even the rare bit of traditionally prepared soy. Stricter plans are recommend for those with metabolic or autoimmune health issues.

Mark's Daily Apple
Balanced Bites

Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo
Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield
Primal Cuisine by Pauli Halstead

Special Diets for Healing
These diets aim to heal digestive issues (such as leaky gut, SIBO, IBDs, and celiac) as well as their perceived side effects (mental fog, skin issues, joint pain, behavioral issues, autoimmune disease, etc.). These can be quite restrictive; however, the hope with most of these diets is that once the healing is done foods that were eliminated foods can be reintroduced allowing for more variety without harming health.

Breaking the Vicious Cycle (Specific Carbohydrate Diet - aka SCD)
Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS diet)

Food Films
These don't support one particular diet but are generally just revealing about our current food industry and alternatives. Seeing how our modern food system is run can be a big motivator for many to seek more traditional diets.

Food, Inc.
The Future of Food
Fat Head
Cereal Killers

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