Most of what people eat doesn't qualify as real food. Real food is nutritious. It should help the body repair itself and supply energy. It should taste good. Simply put, real food comes either from something that grows out of the dirt or in the water or something that walks, swims, or flies. 
As a kid, I grew up eating some junk food, but my family also had a garden. We had apples, pears, plums, peaches, black and red raspberries, and elderberries growing around my parents’ property, as well as garlic, rhubarb, onions, carrots, lettuce, squash, tomatoes, spinach, corn, and potatoes. My mother canned and froze food for future use. 
Often we would go to what are now called farmers markets, where we could buy freshly grown fruits and vegetables. We called them food stands. I also worked on a farm that raised real food. There were plenty of crops as well as pigs, chickens, and cattle. On top of all that, back when I was in school, everyone had to take home economics. 
These are the experiences that have formed my ideas about food. From them, I have formulated a real food plan to get you started eating better.
If the ingredients label on your chicken lists more than just chicken, it's not real food. [Image courtesy Pixabay]

Out With What's Fake, In With What's Real

Most people do not know how to tell real food from fake food. I kid you not. For example, someone I know well bought what they considered to be healthy chicken. The front of the package said “chicken” and showed a cooked chicken. In an effort to help our friend, my wife and I read the ingredients. The label listed several other things before chicken, and then a bunch of things after chicken. It listed at least three different forms of sugar, plus preservatives, chemicals, salt, and broth. “Broth” listed on an ingredients label is code for, “We put a lot of junk in here that will make you crave this product more.”  
After all that, the person still felt it was healthy because it said “natural chicken” on the package.
Here’s the deal. There are only two types of real food. The first kind consists of only one ingredient. For meat we have chicken, beef, fish, turkey, elk, venison, etc. For vegetables we have cucumbers, squash, peas, carrots, etc. For fruit we have apples, bananas, oranges, etc. Nuts? Cashews, almonds, pistachios, etc. 
Every one of these foods is one complete ingredient: the food itself. Nothing added. No added sugar (in any one of its 61 other names), no preservatives, no hormones, no antibiotics, no list of ingredients you cannot even pronounce. When you look at the label it says: “chicken” or it says “apples.” That's it.
The second kind of real food may consist of more than one ingredient, but will have a list of ingredients that looks like this example:
Walter’s Wonderful Soup Ingredients: chicken, celery, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, diced tomatoes, garlic, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, savory, sage, and water
If you took each ingredient by itself, it would be a whole food. Go look at a typical ingredients label and it will be full of things you can’t pronounce. Those ingredients do not grow from the ground.

Get Started With Real Food

So if you’re wondering how to get started with this real food thing, it’s simple:
  • Step 1: Go look in your cupboards, on your shelves, and in your freezer and refrigerator. Ditch or donate anything that is not a real, whole food or a combination of whole foods. If there's no junk food in your home, there’s no junk food to eat for a meal, and no junk food to snack or binge on.
  • Step 2: Make a grocery list, and only buy what is on your list. Be sure to eat before you go shopping so you are less apt to buy on a whim or add extra junk food to your grocery cart. Ideally, your grocery list should be based on a weekly meal plan. If you can’t figure this meal planning thing out and you don’t want to buy a book on the subject, do an online search. Type in “whole food shopping lists” and you will be bombarded with plenty of ideas for what to purchase.
  • Step 3: Go grocery shopping, and only buy real whole foods. 
If you are still lost I would suggest picking up a copy of Josh Hillis and Dan John’s book Fat Loss Happens on Monday.
In my next article, I’ll share some tips, tricks, and ideas with you. I’ll look at things like sauces, condiments, sugar, and juices. I might rattle some cages, but hey, somebody’s gotta do it. Until then, always remember: you are what you eat!
Want some help before you tackle the grocery list?