Real food!

Living Well – Knowing what you’re eating essential for good health

Vicky Trill's monthly column on nutrition, exercise and inspiration.

For the last almost 30 days, a group of over 100 have been working on a 60-day Healthy Living challenge. Whether the goal is to lose weight, or to improve their run time, everyone has been shaping up in both what they put in their mouths as well as how much they move. A couple of weeks ago the group was challenged to “Eat Real Food Only” for one week. This challenge turned out to be very difficult for most. What does eating real food mean? Well, to put it simply, if your Grandmother ate it, it would probably be real. If the farmer or rancher grew it, it is real. If the ingredient list has more than five items listed and/or if the ingredients sound like something you’d find in super glue, then it’s not real. So, the challenge was, to eat REAL foods only, for one week, but only three out of more than 100 people reported that they completed the challenge (I didn’t complete it exactly either)! So, I was left wondering, “If you’re not eating “real”, what are you eating?!

If you only buy fresh foods, eating real should not be a problem. It is said: “If it goes bad, it’s good for you. If it doesn’t go bad, it’s bad for you.”

Eating real means a few more trips to the grocery store, but you will also notice that by eating real, you will be more satisfied, have more energy and be able to perform better physically, mentally and  emotionally. Our bodies are like your car: we need fuel, but we also need the right kind of fuel. Your car will not perform as well on cheap fuel as it will when you put the best fuel into it. Our bodies are no different.

Do you take time to read the labels of the foods you consume? There are two labels to peruse, first there is the ingredients list which just tells you what’s in that product and then there is the Nutritional Fact label which list the amounts of certain things per serving such as sugar, carbohydrates, sodium and protein. Throughout this Challenge we have all been reading labels and learning a lot. For instance, I see countless words I cannot pronounce and what do they mean anyway? Did you also know that the ingredients listed are in order of most to least? Often we think we are doing well with watching what we eat, but don’t know what’s in those pre-packed foods. As you learn more about pre-packaged and processed foods, you start to think there is a conspiracy…well, maybe there is. Quoting from The Reader’s Digest: here are a few words to be aware of:

Drink and cocktail: The words drink and cocktail should have you checking the label for percentages and hidden sugars.

Pure: 100 percent pure products such as orange juice can be doctored with flavor packs for aroma and taste similar to those used by perfume companies. Flavour packs are added to orange juice like Tropicana and Minute Maid.

Spread: Anything that uses the word “spread” is not 100 percent derived from its main ingredient. Skippy Reduced Fat peanut butter is a spread because it contains ingredients that make it different than traditional peanut butter. When something is called a spread, look at the ingredients to see if there is anything in there you don’t want.

Good source of fiber: If it doesn’t look like fiber, it may not function like fiber. Products that are pumped full of polydextrose and inulin are not proven to have the same benefits of fruits, vegetable and  beans, foods naturally high in fiber. For true fiber-based benefit add some fruit to your yogurt.

Cholesterol free: Any product that is not derived from an animal source is cholesterol free. Companies add this to packaging to create the illusion of health. The product is not necessarily unhealthy, but you should see if there is something they are trying to distract you from–e.g., corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils.

Sugar free: This designation means free of sucrose not other sugar alcohols that carry calories from carbohydrates but are not technically sugar. Sugar alcohols are not calorie free. They contain 1.5-3 calories per gram versus four calories per gram for sugar. Also, certain sugar alcohols can cause digestion issues.

On this journey to eat real foods, I was introduced to a great website called 100 Days of Real Food. Here a Mom leads you through what eating Real food really is and how to do it. There are recipes and tips and way more, so check it out and start your healthier you eating REAL food.

Coach Vicky Trill

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