Mini-Pledge Week 14: Five-Ingredient Rule

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During our “100 Days of Real Food Pledge” we avoided all packaged foods containing more than five ingredients as well as all refined grains, sugar, and deep-fried foods. During this next challenge, which is the very last mini-pledge by the way, all we ask is for you to focus on the 5-ingredient rule no matter what those five ingredients are. Consider it to be good “practice” if you ever plan to sign up for the “10 Days of Real Food” pledge, which we of course hope is an outcome after participating in the mini-pledges!

So here is the next and final week-long “real food” mini-pledge, which starts on Monday:

Mini-Pledge Week 14: June 13 – June 19 – Avoid any and all packaged food products that contain more than five ingredients no matter what ingredients are listed.

We borrowed this rule directly from Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules. Here’s his take on this guideline:

“Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients. The specific number you adopt is arbitrary, but the more ingredients in a packaged food, the more highly processed it probably is. Note 1: A long list of ingredients in a recipe is not the same thing; that’s fine. Note 2: Some products now boast, somewhat deceptively, about their short ingredient lists. Häagen-Dazs has a new line of ice creamed called ‘five.’ Great–but it’s still ice cream. Same goes for the three-ingredient Tostitos corn chips advertised by Frito-Lay–okay, but they’re still corn chips.”

One thing we struggled with during our 100-day pledge was the occasional food product that had six or seven or even eight ingredients that were all “whole” or what we would consider to be “real food.” What about a bag of trail mix that contains seven different kinds of nuts and seeds? We would avoid products like that mainly because we didn’t want to jeopardize our pledge, although, truthfully, that bag of trail mix would probably be perfectly fine. The thing is, when you are creating “rules” for the masses you just have to draw the line somewhere. And if this rule gets people to start reading and scrutinizing the ingredient labels on their food then our mission is accomplished.

So just to help you out next week, here is a list of some food products that we regularly purchase with five or less ingredients:

I can’t believe our “100 Days of Real Food Mini-Pledges” are coming to a close. It’s been a fun 14 weeks, which actually adds up to 98 days, cutting out processed food one step at a time. I hope this has been a valuable experience to those who have joined in or even just read along. We don’t think it makes sense to live by strict rules 100% of the time, but hopefully this experience will lead you to make some positive long-term changes. And if these challenges left you hungry for more then there is always the “10 Days of Real Food” pledge where you can follow our same real food rules for a shorter amount of time!

In summary, here’s what we tackled week-by-week during the “real food” mini-pledges. If you missed one of the challenges or are joining us late you can always go back and follow along on your own schedule:

To take the pledge: Please leave a comment below with the number of adults and children in your household that will participate, and also share if you will do it for one meal, one day, or for the entire week. Put it in writing and make it official!

Good luck!

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