I hated my body growing up. Quite honestly, I had a loathing relationship with it until I was well into my late twenties, perhaps even my early thirties. I started developing very early and was soft and curvy in all the places the other girls were straight. I hid in baggy sweatshirts for a long time. Up until that point I didn’t ask much of it other than a place to dwell. I didn’t push it, challenge it or demand that it try anything new. I didn’t have any discipline when it came to exercise or eating.
When I became an adult and started exercising regularly I started paying attention to the food that made me feel strong. Certain foods depleted my strength and foods I thought were bad for me started making me lose weight. I threw out all the information I thought I knew about what was good and what was bad. I started eating real foods, even the ones I thought were bad for me like avocados and nuts and small amounts of cheese. I started eating tons of fruits and vegetables; and lots and lots of plain water. I learned how to eat whatever I wanted, in moderation. In small portions.
Slowly, over time my body began to change. The combination of consistent exercise and eating a healthy, well-rounded diet of food transformed my shape and became a lifestyle. And that’s the key: this has to be a lifestyle change, not a diet, if it’s ever going to work long term.
But if you walk into a supermarket the amount of options are overwhelming. The foods we ate as kids aren’t made the same way they were back then. Unfortunately, reading labels nearly requires a college degree! Believe me, I am on this journey with you – trying to feed my body, but more importantly my kids growing bodies – with a growing criticism for what is actually in our food supply. It’s frightening.
We all want to eat real food, but honestly wonder: what is real food? There are so many incredible resources at the tip of our fingers for finding the answers to all of our questions about food. For this challenge we’re going to keep it pretty basic, because I’m all about basic. Basic I can do. Basic I can understand, implement and stick to. For the sake of simplicity, real food is:
- simple: these are foods that are purchased and eaten in the way the Creator made them. They probably aren’t sold in a package but come whole, bought as individual or bulk. Think fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.
- unprocessed: these are foods created in your kitchen. If they come out of a bag, a box or a manufacturing plant, they are most likely highly processed and contain chemicals and ingredients that are not good for your body.
- whole: these are foods that are consumed in their natural state. For example, the healthiest part of an apple is it’s core and that’s the part we throw away! Ideally, this can be eaten (I like to thinly slice apples through the core, sprinkle them with PB2, cinnamon, oats & honey and eat the whole core!). Same with a chicken, the bones and leftover meat can be thrown in a pot to cook down into a delicious broth. With whole foods, you can use the WHOLE food.
- found: in nature or the perimeter, outside aisles of your favorite grocery store.
Objective: This week I want you to start looking at labels. Start shopping the perimeter of your grocery store and stocking up on fresh, whole, real foods. Attached is a list of foods to buy regularly and eat. You can download and print it here. I also included an example of what I eat on a normal day.
Assess: What is your current diet? Is it comprised of whole, real foods or is it loaded with sugar and processed ingredients? How many of the foods on this list do you already eat? Are you willing to make this a lifestyle change? Why does it matter to you? For me, knowing how good or bad a particular food is for me helps me make a better choice when I’m faced with a craving.
Friday I’ll be posting the top 10 foods to start eating now and the top 10 foods that must, I insist, go. I’ll also provide the seven most scary ingredients found in foods that you want to avoid. I’ve gotta be honest, researching for this week is nearly making me sick! I never want to eat another processed food again. Don’t miss it!