Real Food Defined (The Rules)

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Below are the rules we followed during our original 100 Days of Real Food pledge. If you are taking the 10-Day pledge you will follow these same rules.

100 Days of Real Food Rules

What you CAN eat:

  1. Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry
  2. Lots of fruits and vegetables (we recommend that you shop for these at your local farmers’ market)
  3. Dairy products like milk, unsweetened yogurt, eggs, and cheese
  4. 100% whole-wheat and whole-grains (find a local bakery for approved sandwich bread and check the Understanding Grains post for more info)
  5. Seafood (wild caught is the optimal choice over farm-raised)
  6. Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (preferably in moderation)
  7. Beverages limited to water, milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetened coffee & tea, and, to help the adults keep their sanity, wine and beer!
  8. Snacks like dried fruit, seeds, nuts and popcorn
  9. All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and fruit juice concentrates are acceptable in moderation
  10. Also check out the Recipes & Resources page for a more detailed list of meal options including links to recipes

What you CANNOT eat:

  1. No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat…not just “wheat”)
  2. No refined sweeteners such as sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or the artificial stuff like Splenda
  3. Nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label
  4. No deep fried foods
  5. No “fast foods”

Please leave a reply below if you have any questions about what is okay to eat during your pledge.


How to Avoid Processed Food in General

If you feel that you have the will, but not the skill to do the 10 Days of Real Food pledge then here are some general lifestyle changes to consider instead…

  1. Read the ingredients label before buying anything. For years, if I even looked at food labels, I was reviewing items such as fat grams, calorie count and sugar content. While this may be important to some, the best indicator of how highly processed a food is can actually be found in the list of ingredients. If what you are buying contains more than 5 ingredients and includes a lot of unfamiliar, unpronounceable items you may want to reconsider before buying.
  2. Increase your consumption of whole foods especially vegetables and fruits. I am sure you’ve heard similar advice a thousand times, and I hate to tell you that it couldn’t be more true. This will help to displace the processed foods in your diet, and will actually make your food selections in general very simple. No more counting calories, fat grams, or carbs when your only concern is selecting whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry.
  3. Buy your bread from a local bakery. I actually used to eat white bread, but what I bought for my husband from the grocery store was what I thought was whole-wheat bread. When we finally checked the ingredients and found 40 different items on the list, including white flour and sugar, we decided it was time for a change. Why would there be so many on the list if it only takes a handful of ingredients to make bread? We since started buying our bread from Great Harvest Bread Company. Not only do they grind their own wheat every morning, but their honey whole-wheat loaf only has five ingredients – whole-wheat flour, water, yeast, salt and honey.
  4. In addition to your bread choice, when selecting foods like pastas, cereals, rice, and crackers always go for the whole-grain option. And don’t just believe the health claims on the outside of the box.  Read the ingredients to make sure the product is truly made with only 100% whole grains – not a combination of whole grains and refined grains which is unfortunately how a lot of “whole grain” products are made. The white flour or other refined grain alternative is simply high in calories and low in nutrition.
  5. Avoid store-bought products containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and those “that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients” according to Michael Pollan. Despite the mixed research on if HFCS is really worse for you than good ol’ white sugar, it just happens to be “a reliable marker for a food product that has been highly processed”.
  6. Don’t order off the kids’ menu. The next time your family is out to dinner try to avoid the kids menu. Those selections are most often things like pre-made chicken nuggets, fries, and pasta made with white flour, among other things. Instead try assembling some sort of side item plate (like baked potatoes and whatever else your kid will tolerate) and/or try sharing some of your meal.
  7. Visit your local farmers’ market the next time you need to restock your fridge. According to Michael Pollan not only will you find “food that is in season, which is usually when it is most nutritious”, but you will also find a selection of pesticide-free produce and properly fed meat products. It is also better for our environment to purchase locally grown products as opposed to the supermarket produce, which travels on average 1500 miles from the farm to your plate.
  8. Lastly, to once again quote Michael Pollan, he says to “eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” If you had to peel, chop and deep fry potatoes every time you wanted French fries then you might not eat them very often. Only eating “junk food” such as cakes, sweets, and fried foods as often as you are willing to make them yourself will automatically ensure the frequency is appropriate.

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2,123 comments to Real Food Defined (The Rules)

  • jessy

    I am working 3 jobs in addition to homeschooling and finding it impossible to bake all our breads anymore. However I can’t find a bread in store that is whole grain, 5 ingredients or less and safe for severe tree nut/peanut allergies (not manufactured or packaged in a factory that manufacturers nuts). Any suggestions for sandwich bread, buns, and bagels?

    • Anna

      Hi Jessy,

      Have you tried Ezekial (not sure of the spelling) bread. I believe there is a gluten free option and a whole wheat option. Do you live near a Great Harvest Bakery? I hope this helps.

      • jessy

        I’ve looked into both of those and they can’t guarantee a nut free product. So far all the real food breads seem to have warnings. My son has reacted just from touching a “manufactured in a facility with” bread. I hoping there were some brands I was overlooking. Right now we’re using aunt millies simply because it’s one of the few breads that are allergy safe for us (but they certainly don’t fit the real food bill).

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi there. I have to defer to reader wisdom here. Unfortunately, I had no luck last year finding a “nut safe” bread to send to school with my son that was not highly processed with a long ingredient list. ~Amy

    • Sara

      Try Rudy’s breads — all organic and no bread conditioners, etc.

    • Shea

      I just discovered Alpine Valley Natural Organic Whole Grain Breads at Costco. They are manufactured in a facility that handles wheat, milk and soy but NO nuts. My daughter has a peanut allergy and this is the first all natural bread I’ve found without the warnings.

  • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi Lynn. You do have to be careful about the fish you purchase. Farmed fish often aren’t fed a natural diet. This might help: ~Amy

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  • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi Ilene. No, our focus is on eating a a balanced diet of whole real foods. Online tools like My Fitness Pal can calculate recipe details for you. ~Amy

  • Deanna Jenks

    Are these items acceptable under the whole foods plan: cottage cheese, pure stevia, almond milk,shredded wheat (no sugar added). Thanks

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Deanna. Yes, other than stevia. We use honey and maple syrup to sweeten. We understand that individuals with blood sugar issues may require the stevia, however. ~Amy

  • Linda

    Is vtal wheat gluten in bead ingredients bad under to food rules? No where near me has real bread. Where I used to live whole foods did….whole wheat flour, water, salt and yeast…… And they would grind it for me to bread crumbs!! But now it’s over 1.5 hrs away. The one near me doesn’t bake on site so their bread is par baked….I found at trader joes a bread close but that I wasn’t sure about vital wheat gluten? I might have to get a bread maker :(. Please advise…..

  • Teresa Skinner

    Which Grocery chain is best for finding organic fruits and vegetables at a good price?

  • Meaghan

    Look into seeing if you have access to Alvarado St Bakery. Served in my childrens school for the nut safe allergies.

  • Dawn

    I’m on day two and loving it! Can’t wait for the book to arrive in the mail. Thank you so much for opening my eyes :)

  • Eve

    I have a bread machine which gives you the ability to control what goes in your bread. I can get it together and get it in YHWH machine in about ten minutes. The machine does the work and is heaven to smell. I keep all supplies in a basket so I can do it quickly. Easy to do. I bought my machine from Amazon.

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