This post is brought to you by Fuel For Fire, all opinions and thoughts are my own! #EatRealFood
Spoiler, awesome giveaway at the end of this post!
How to Eat More Real Food
What is real food? My definition is food as close to its original state as possible. Eating this way in general provides the body with more nutrients, requires more energy (therefore calories) to break down, and exposes us to less toxins and chemicals. With a few simple swaps you can start incorporating more and more real food in your diet too!
Ignore the label and read the ingredients.The number one way to start eating more real food is to start reading the labels on the packages you are considering purchasing. The general rule of thumb is if your grandma wouldn’t know what it is (or you couldn’t purchase it in the grocery store on its own) it’s probably better to skip it. The less preservatives and added chemicals the better! One of the best examples of this is peanut butter, check yours, I’ll wait. The only ingredients in it should be peanuts and maybe salt, if your PB has words like hydrogenated in it or un-needed sweeteners it may be time to switch brands (even if it says natural on the label.)
Sweeten It YourselfIf you typically buy things like sweetened oatmeal, yogurt, or coffee creamers, even the light kind, try starting with plain and sweetening it yourself at home with cinnamon, fruit, and vanilla extract. I like to microwave my blueberries before mixing them into my yogurt, this creates a syrup consistency without all the added sugar or preservatives in a store bought flavored yogurt. If you need a little extra sweet you can control how much unrefined natural sugar sources like honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar you use.
Avoid Low Fat FoodsLow fat = low calories right? Maybe, but it also usually means they have to replace the fat with something and that something is usually sugar, chemicals and maybe salt. For instance, I’m guilty of back in the day purchasing fat-free half and half, which is filled with corn syrup! Fat is an essential part of the diet that gives us energy, supports hormone health, and is filling. Try replacing some of your low-fat dairy or fat-free products with the original version and notice how much more satisfied a meal makes you!
Meal PlanComing up with a weekly meal plan makes it easier to grocery shop, it also helps eliminate stress when dinner time rolls around. Have a good mix of super quick (think scrambled eggs or whole grain quesadillas) to moderately quick meals (like stir fries) so that you can change things around if needed.
Meal PrepIf you want to eat more real food you’ve got to make it accessible and just as easy as a processed food. Preparing ingredients ahead of time makes it a much easier task to make meals and snacks using real food during the week. Batch cook a whole bunch of whole grains or starchy vegetables. Prepare and marinate the meat. Wash and chop veggies. The goal is that when the busy work week comes, it will take just as long to throw all those ingredients together as it would to make something from a box or swing through a drive thru.
Swap refined grains for whole grains and starchy vegetables, look for the word 100%The USDA recommends making at least half of your grain intake whole grains. In my opinion, refined grains are the most likely culprit of processed food in your diet. Picture one kernel of brown rice, now picture stripping the brown outer layer off of it. The outer layer that contains fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals is now gone, so now we have to enrich it by adding chemical versions back in. Look for the words 100% whole grain/wheat/rolled oats etc, be wary if it doesn’t say 100%. Also, try eating starchy veggies like sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, in place of grains every once in a while, for even more of a nutrient boost!
Aim to include produce at every single meal.If you take the meals that you are already eating and aim to just add a veggie to them in one way or another, your already eating more real food!
Embrace convenience itemsDo not be afraid to be part of the convenience club. When I was in grad school or when I was working 60+ hours a week away from home I didn’t feel the least bit guilty in spending money on pre packaged convenience items. Some of my favorites are pre-washed and cut leafy greens and vegetables, steamer bags/bowls of brown rice or quinoa, and pre cooked meats. It made it so much easier to get in real food!
Join a CSA or visit a Local Farmers MarketIf time isn’t the issue, joining a farm box (also known as a CSA) or visiting a local farmers’ market can help you get fresh in-season produce for extremely cheap! It can also challenge you to try new things you thought you might not have liked before.
Have A Stay-In Cooking Date or Girls Night InOne of my favorite ways to get in more real foods is to make healthier versions at home. Mr. Hungry and I love to make pizza a date night. Making our own individual pizzas allows us to use whole grain tortillas, natural meats, and a variety of veggies! I also love to grab a bottle of wine and make a bunch of delicious food out of a new healthy cookbook with my girlfriends!
Fuel For Fire Review & GiveawayA couple of months ago Krystie from Fuel For Fire reached out to me, she had seen my post about “going barless” and she asked if I would like to try samples of Fuel For Fire during my “protein bar hiatus”. When I checked out their website I was super excited to see their protein packs were made with real fruit and veggies and had no juice concentrates, artificial sweeteners, or added sugar.
- Fuel For Fire was created by a group of athletes dedicated to eating real food on the go, so they created a fruit + protein (made with whey isolate) that would be perfect to support their busy active lifestyles. And BTW definitely check out their instagram page, holy motivation!When the samples arrived I was a little nervous it would be the consistency of a jar of baby food or apple sauce, but I was happy to find out it wasn’t at all! It had the consistency of a real smoothie in a fun convenient package, plus the flavors are amazing! Combinations of smoothies I would actually make, no weird stuff (take that with a grain of salt, I do love spinach in my smoothies)! I liked that the smoothies didn’t have to be refrigerated so they could easily be transported from work to the gym without a worry. (Granted for me this wasn’t very far at Life Time, but the employee fridge didn’t exactly keep things that cold.) The real bonus was that Mr. Hungry LOVED them, he has a sensitive stomach to, well, a lot of things, but these were really easy on his stomach and gave him tons of energy for basketball.
- So now it’s your turn to enter to try them! Enter below to win your own starter kit (one of each flavor)! In addition, Fuel For Fire will be offering Hungry Hobby readers an exclusive 5% OFF using code HUNGRYHOBBY and right now they are offering free shipping! You can also get $1.00 off using this coupon at Whole Foods or Sprouts (for Arizona friends they just launched in Arizona stores!)Good luck! The giveaway will be up through the weekend and I’ll announce the winner Monday morning on the blog!