Real Food Tips: 5 Easy Changes for The New Year

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Real Food Tips: 5 Easy Changes for 2013 by 100 Days of Real FoodI hear from readers quite frequently who would like to cut out processed food, but are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. The key thing to remember is that small changes can go a long way – cutting out processed food doesn’t have to be all or nothing! So to help you get off on the right foot this New Year below are 5 easy changes you can implement this month. In fact EVERYONE could start #1 today. It’s easy, it’s free, and it’s all about awareness. Pick 1 or 2 items from this list and commit to starting them this week. Once you’ve got those items down move on to the others, and before you know it some of these changes will become your “new normal.”

Speaking of getting off on the right foot this New Year I also want to introduce you to our meal planning sponsor, The Fresh 20! It’s no secret that it can take more time to plan and cook real food day in and day out, but a service like The Fresh 20 can really take some of the weight off your shoulders. Each week they send you 5 unprocessed dinner recipes that you can make from 20 fresh ingredients. For only $5/month the budget-friendly recipes include an organized shopping list, and you can choose from their Classic, Vegetarian, or Gluten-Free plan. If you are already a member of The Fresh 20 we’d love for you to share your feedback in the comments below!

5 Easy “Real Food” Changes for The New Year

  1. Read ingredient labels.
    Everyone could easily start doing this today…or right now in fact (in your own pantry!). Before you eat or buy any packaged food read the list of ingredients on the back. You don’t even have to change what you are buying or eating quite yet, but just being aware of how processed your food selections are can be the first step in the right direction!
    Some things to think about: Can you pronounce all the ingredients? How many are on the list? Are they all items you would cook with in your own kitchen? Which ingredients are refined or some sort of sweetener (like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane juice, brown rice syrup, aspartame, etc.)?
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  2. Start buying 100% whole-grain products.
    Bread products tend to take up a big portion of the Standard American Diet so switching to 100% whole grain could potentially go a long way. Many common grocery products are made with refined grains – things like sandwich bread, pasta, crackers, rice, breadcrumbs, hamburger buns, croutons, etc. So there’s lots of room for improvement here! And being a former “white bread girl” myself I can tell you I used to avoid whole-wheat bread because I despised the taste. I now realize that’s because I was trying grocery store, factory-made whole-wheat bread that was made with a ton of additives and preservatives. We now buy 5 ingredient bread from a local bakery (or make our own) and it thankfully tastes MUCH better!
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  3. Switch to organic dairy.
    I’ll never forget something I once heard Dr. Oz say. When it comes to buying dairy products you just cannot peel or wash off your milk like you can your produce…so it’s best to go organic. Just one of many great reasons to avoid conventional dairy products from animals that have been treated with antibiotics and hormones (not to mention their diet and living conditions – you are what you eat eats, too)!
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  4. Eat more produce (preferably organic).
    If you aren’t eating a lot of fresh produce today…what’s the reason? Is it because you don’t like veggies, you think they’re too much work to prepare, or because you’d just rather have deep-fried potato chips instead? :) If you haven’t been a big fan of vegetables in the past I encourage you to try fresh/local veggies, some new recipes for your vegetables, and even some new vegetables all together. Fruits and vegetables are (obviously) whole foods and putting more of that goodness on your plate will automatically displace some of the processed stuff!
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  5. Offer your kids more real food.
    The average 5-year-old can’t drive himself to McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A and pay for a meal. So let’s face it, in most cases it’s almost completely up to the parent to offer their young children the right choices. Yes, my daughters both like real food, but if I handed them a bag of Cheetos for a snack they would totally chow down (they are kids after all!). So, as a result, I don’t hand them a bag of Cheetos and instead offer them a banana with peanut butter or a box of raisins or some whole-grain pretzels or an organic cheese stick for a snack (Note: None of these real food snacks require much more work than opening a bag of Cheetos). These are all whole foods I know my kids will eat so that’s what I give them when they are hungry. I strongly encourage everyone to do their part by offering their own children more real food this year. You never know…their response might pleasantly surprise you! :)

What do you plan on doing in the New Year to reduce your family’s consumption of highly processed foods?

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147 comments to Real Food Tips: 5 Easy Changes for The New Year

  • Jennifer

    I cut all processed foods out of mine and my families diet about 2 years ago and it was all or nothing! I completely gutted our pantry out and got rid of all the processed junk. I was really overwhelmed at first but it seems so simple now as far as knowing what to avoid and knowing what is good and what is bad. I am so thankful for this blog educating me and helping me along the way. I don’t know that I would have made the change or even have known where to start without this blog. Thank you so much! Keep up the great work!!

  • Kathy Dragovich

    I mastered an easy Spanish brown rice side for our dinners instead of other carbs like pasta and rice aroni dishes. Making a big batch keeps well and we eat leftovers for several days. Keep sharing your easy recipes – so helpful.

  • jamie

    For me, changing to non processed foods is not an issue of angering the family, or my belly or anything else, its an issue of cost. Its no secret eating healthier is simply more expensive. If the government could help subsidize the cost of eating healthier I’m all for it. Also, having healthier options readily available isn’t exactly easy when you live in climates that don’t promote year round growth. I’d have to goto a grocery 3 times a week to ensure my produce didn’t goto waste, and thanks to the shrinking economy, I simply don’t have time with working multiple jobs. Farmers markets and cost effective produce would go a long way. Alas where I live, we don’t have them except in the summer time.

    • Cheryl

      Jamie, I completely agree. There is absolutely nothing I can do – including buying in bulk which I already do – that would make eating fully organic and without preservatives an affordable option. Those of you out there who are such strong proponents of this eating lifestyle, please also help find a way not only to evangelize for the way of eating life you support, but think and work together to find ways to evangelize for how more socioeconomic groups can afford the diet you so correctly push.

  • Theresa

    I cannot believe you quoted Dr. Oz, he operates purely on shock value. I was interested until I read his name. Complete idiot, no credibility.

  • Mary

    Love your website! So appreciative of what you are doing. I have a question about the dairy though. I have had no luck finding organic dairy products that are not ultrapasteurized. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Karleigh

    Just read a great blog post about real food and new years resolutions: http://pantrymedicine.com/blog/msbw6lclefx1tia5dx78yvc4b33y0x . It talks about redefining real food for the new year instead of restricting certain food groups. Made me think of your blog!

  • […] figuring that out.  much of my inspiration has come from 100daysofrealfood.com and her article on 5 easy changes for the new year, check it out!  her blog has been super encouraging and challenging to me!  on that note here are […]

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