Real Food Tips: 5 Easy Changes

Real Food Tips: 5 Easy Changes for 2013 by 100 Days of Real Food

I 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, 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.”

5 Easy “Real Food” Changes

  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.)?
  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!
  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)!
  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!
  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 to reduce your family’s consumption of highly processed foods?

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154 thoughts on “Real Food Tips: 5 Easy Changes”

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  1. I don’t have children at home anymore but I changed #5 “To get my husband to stop eating fast food”. I make sure there is food in the freezer that he can reheat quickly so he doesn’t stop on the way home and can make a meal when he gets home.

  2. Going back to my roots (well, adopted roots). When I was in college I worked for a small local health food store and did a really good job of cutting out processed foods, and then moved away from that while in various relationships. I went back to it when my daughter was born and then drifted away again when I met my now husband. Two years ago we switched to whole food vegan, and it felt like coming home… Though after a few heart breaks this year we’ve gone to vegetarian at home. I’m bringing back the hippy and vegan dishes I loved and making sure to pre-cook and freeze to give myself a hand.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

    1. While I agree that Dr. Oz is not very credible, the quote she uses is completely true and she was just mentioning where she heard it from… not necessarily saying Dr. Oz is some food genius or even credible by any means. The statement she quoted is true… you can’t wash the junk out of your non organic milk.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. To both Cheryl and Jamie. I am a single person on long term disability and i can manage small changes. Lifestyle choices can be made, can i do organic veg fruit and meat? No i cannot afford it. Can i buy a bag of apples vs applesauce in a jar? Yes and it is cheaper too. The only reason i post is to say maybe you cannot do it all but we can all do something to eat healthier:) Changing even one thing can make you feel proud and successful!

      2. It took me almost 2 years to make the change so that it would not impact my pocket book all at once. Every time I ran out of something, I would replace with a healthier organic option. Now that the process is almost done, I spend 2/3 less on food and am able to buy organic and grass fed almost 100%. There are a ton of organic coupons out there and I shop specials at multiple stores. It’s easier than you would think it would be.

      3. In the off season where I live a bag of apples cost twice as much as a jar of applesauce. And I could get 3 jars of applesauce for the price of one bag of organic apples…

    2. There is nothing I hate more than throwing out veggies because I couldn’t use them fast enough. One thing I’m trying to do & get better at (because no I’m not going to the groc store multiple times per wk) is buy my groc, make my meals for the week & freeze them till the day I need them. I try to arrange so that the leafy veggies get used during the first part of the weeks meals because they don’t freeze well. Just an idea for you.

      1. When fresh vegetables start getting a little old but still perfectly good, make green smoothies for at least one meal a day. I do it for breakfast. I throw very little if any away by doing this and there are tremendous health benefits.

    3. I completely disagree with you. While I’m not trying to plug a different brand or service Fresh20 does a fantastic job at helping people meal plan, prep, shop responsibly for ingredients that don’t get used once and wasted and are very healthy.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!!

  8. I am looking for a protein powder to make our morning smoothies with. My husband gets up and makes them every morning. But when I looked at the ingredients from our soy powder and it was full of “yucky” additives and sugars. Any suggestions?

    1. We actually buy organic, soy free protein on amazon. I will look and see what the name is as soon as I can. I’m not big on vanilla flavored but this stuff is soooo good!

    2. Garden of Life Raw protein powder is great. The Food Babe has a review of protein powders on her site, if you want more recommendations.

    3. Genny, first I would encourage you to ditch the soy even if it didn’t have all the “yucky” stuff. Unfermented soy is not healthy food and I know of only one protein powder that is made with fermented soy – Almased, which I could not gag down at all although based on the Amazon reviews some people like it very much.

      What I like the best and have been using for about 1 1/2 years now are Sunwarrior’s protein powders, both the original sprouted brown rice and the Warrior Blend. Both of them are reasonably non-gritty, a little chalky but really not badly so, and pretty good tasting – the only sweetener in the vanilla and chocolate flavors is stevia and it doesn’t have much stevia aftertaste at all (I really hate stevia LOL). I sub a couple of scoops for an equivalent amount of flour in many baked goods and hide the plain flavor in a lot of foods. Always goes in my faux Larabars! I get it by mail from The Vitamin Shoppe when it goes on sale, where it costs half as much as at my local health-food store.

      I have also used and liked Plantfusion, although it does contain a small amount of fructose (4g per 30g serving) there are no “yucky additives”. I asked what the “natural vanilla flavor” was a couple of years ago and the customer service person said it was a purified form of vanilla extract but there’s a legal definition for “vanilla extract” in the US which made labelling difficult, but they did say it wasn’t the wood-derived vanillin that goes into the bottled imitation vanilla flavor at the grocery store. I think it has the best texture of the vegan protein powders I have tried, it’s like talcum powder. Most places that carry it do have the single-serving packets so you can try it without buying a whole jug. Vanilla bean and chocolate were acceptable, I did not like the chocolate raspberry at all.

      SAN RawFusion is another veg-based protein blend that I liked very much for its thick, milkshakelike texture, but it does have more additives (fructose, natural flavorings depending on the flavor you choose, guar gum – thus the thickness – stevia and additional glycine which is an amino acid). I had quite a bit of gassiness when I tried it which was a bummer because it really did taste good (I have only had the vanilla). The company was very generous with samples when I wrote to them.

      I’ve really bombed out with a whole bunch of protein powders, too… thankfully Vitamin Shoppe was very polite about returns! A lot of people swear by Garden of Life Raw Protein; I found it very gritty, too earthy-tasting, and the bloating/gas was terrible (thankfully I had only purchased a couple of sample packets, chocolate and vanilla). Hemp protein sure does have a big following but for me “earthy” does not begin to describe its flavor! I don’t notice it in the Sunwarrior Warrior Blend though. Rainbow Light’s “energizing herbal blend” made me very jittery, and it has a weird fake-vanilla flavor, like it was trying to be vanilla ice cream and failing miserably. Nutribiotic brown rice protein and Vitamin Shoppe’s soy-free house blend veggie protein are both like a mouthful of sand – truly horrible and the absolute worst veg-based proteins I tried. (Spirutein is a close third, but what with it being a soy product I didn’t use it much.) I never tried Vega just due to the incredibly high price. I have also not tried any of the protein/greens blends because so far every greens powder I have tried has made me vomit.

      If you can do dairy, there are several grass-fed organic whey protein powders on the market. Tera’s Whey is probably easiest to find; it does contain soy lecithin (the plain is only whey protein and lecithin, no sweeteners) but I contacted them and asked why they didn’t switch to sunflower lecithin, it seemed silly to go to all the fuss of grass-fed whey and then put soy in it, and they said that was a very good point and they would look into it. Reserveage Organics’ Grass-Fed Whey only comes in chocolate or vanilla; ingredients for the vanilla are whey protein, vanilla, stevia, and sunflower lecithin. Raw Organic Whey is just that, nothing added – probably why it is so horrifyingly expensive. Source Organic whey plain is whey and sunflower lecithin. Swanson Ultra gets some good reviews, containing whey, vanilla, xanthan gum and sunflower lecithin – completely unsweetened. I can’t remember if The Organic Whey is grass-fed, I think it is but I’m not sure; whey protein is the only ingredient. The only one I have tried is the Tera’s Whey and it tasted all right, no major reactions.

      There are a couple of organic egg white protein powders, although I do not know of any that are pastured. Gifted Earth Originals is certified humane, however their flavored egg-based protein shakes contain sugar as well as natural flavors, arabic gum, stevia, and in the case of the chocolate, cocoa powder. It is VERY expensive. There is one big problem with egg white protein powder though – what happens when you beat egg whites? You get meringue. (The “meringue powder” used in commercial bakeries is the *exact same thing* as egg white protein powder, just with different flavorings!) The same thing happened to my smoothies. Not only did it give my smoothie a very peculiar foamy, spongy texture, but I ended up swallowing an enormous amount of air which led to severe bloating and a very upset stomach. I think the most sensible way to use it would be to make the smoothie in the blender as usual and whisk egg-white powder with just enough water to dissolve it, then stir that into the finished smoothie.

      Some of the real-foodie crowd has really gone crazy over Great Lakes collagen hydrolysate as a protein supplement. Yes, it’s made from grass-fed cows, but it’s a _very heavily_ processed substance so I find it very ironic. Gelatins are not very protein-dense so I don’t think they make a good protein powder per se, although they have other uses; I prefer Bernard Jensen gelatin to Great Lakes as I think it has a “cleaner” flavor. Great Lakes gelatin (kosher) has a slight musty aftertaste. Regular gelatin makes smoothies wiggly, too, which can be either entertaining or disgusting depending on your point of view.

      Hope that helps some. Good luck!

    4. I am a beach body coach and started using shakeology every day last March and now my entire family (husband, kids, sister, and parents) LOVES it! Email me if you want more information!! I’d love to chat and tell you about it :) shakeology is a powder to use for complete daily nutrition in a shake once a day. My email address is I’d be more than happy to tell you more about it and how to buy it!

  9. I used Fresh 20 this time last year and it was okay. Some of the recipes seemed a bit bland and I felt like I was eating nearly the same thing every day. I try to watch labels and organic dairy is a must in this home, along with most meats. Our local farmers market can be too much on our budget so sometimes I have to cheat and buy frozen veggies and if non organic fresh, then I try to rinse well. It is a lifestyle change, no doubt and Fresh 20 does have some good ideas. If you have the time and creativity, you can alter the recipes a bit to better suit you, while still staying healthy.

  10. I totally agree with all of these but #2…..Whole wheat is causing so many problems….It’s not the same wheat our great grandmothers ate…..It’s not good for us. I say skip whole wheat and eat brown rice pasta and gluten free bread choices….or better yet….stay away from it all together.

  11. I started using Fresh 20 at the beginning of this month and I love it. LOVE it. I use the classic meals and am learning a lot of new ways to prepare meats. And I’m cooking a lot of meals I never would have picked out and we like them!! Such a great deal. So much less waste, simple grocery list, and I can skip the HOURS I used to spend on my weekly meal plan (via Pinterest, ha).

  12. I love the fresh 20 menus. I use the vegetarian ones and can easily make them vegan& gluten free.
    I love that you don’t need tons if ingredients to make really good meals.

  13. Organic dairy is better than conventional, but cutting out dairy is much better for you. Even organic dairy is filled with naturally occurring hormones because the cows are almost always pregnant or recently pregnant to be continuous sources of milk. This has many implications but the big one for me is the increased risk of future hormone related cancers due the the earlier and earlier sexual development of girls. Eat more plants!

  14. Hello I love that everyone is trying to cut out preservative because two on years ago I was told I hasve allergies to milk and sulfites witch sulfites is a preservative and its in everything prepackaged foods so I had to learn how to eat over again, because of the dairy part it’s a little bit harder but I do feel better it is possible to do little more expensive because I have to go organic two.

  15. Lisa, Amy & Gang, I just wanted to say THANK YOU! The information you share here, especially what you post on Facebook has made a huge difference for me. I feel like I’ve completely changed my eating-shopping-cooking patterns in the last few months, and I feel so healthy! Most of all this is a practical way to eat. Now that I have learned how to cook more from scratch I have literally slashed my food bill down to a 1/4 of what it was. What?! Buying in bulk (instead of processed) helps me be able to afford organic milk and farmer’s market produce. That was an amazing revelation to me. Also, your recipes are definitely and consistently better than other whole food sites out there, that is why I have YOURS bookmarked ;)

  16. Quick question for wives and moms – how do you work towards healthy, whole foods when your husband doesn’t want to change? Mine stills buys chips and pop regularly and will buy processed food on his own at the store because it’s cheap and easy. (I’ve got an 11mo old who doesn’t always give me the chance to cook and hubby prefers to just pop something in the oven and wait for the ding.)

    I can’t force him to want to change and talking about it isn’t doing enough. I’ve made small changes here and there, but I’m running out of ways to do more. And admittedly, we can’t afford two different grocery lists and I get tempted by the pop and chips when they’re in the house.

    If anyone has advice, it would be appreciated!

    1. I made a whole bunch of “microwavable” whole food meals for my hubby (burritos, chicken salsa pockets, etc) and stocked my freezer. It seemed to work (meaning he didn’t go buy processed stuff) so I keep repeating it. He seems stuck on TV dinner type foods, probably because that is how he ate growing up. It takes a while for people’s habits to change & I don’t expect him to be 100% on board with me, but we’ll see? Maybe after a year of all this yummy new cooking he will like it too? I keep telling him, “babe, I’ve started a new diet- but it includes butter & sour cream so don’t worry” ha! (even though this is not a diet to me, it is a lifestyle change, I just say it for humor). Good luck!

    2. While you cannot change your husband’s diet you can change your child’s. Perhaps you could have some foods available to tide your child over while you cook, such as grapes (cut in pieces) or a banana. I try to have “approved” snacks on hand all the time because my kids tend to raid the kitchen in between meals. Good luck to you!!

  17. Hi and thanks for all the good advice. We started by giving up fast food and soda pop. (Hubby and I at least have given up pop. Now for the child.) Next, so as not to waste the food we have in the freezer and pantry, we’re going to little by little replace things with organics. I’ve done research and found some co-ops. Your website and recipes have been very very very helpful. thanks for all you do.
    Aimee in Northwest Indiana.

  18. The easiest way to tell if the food is processed and find out what kind of poisons are in it is to get the App called Fooducate. I’ve been using it for 3 months and I’ve lost 28 pounds.

      1. Hi, that’s weird. What country are you from? I’m from the US. I know they have it for iPhones and a different version for android. Let me know if you are still having problems. I couldn’t live without mine.

  19. I am always SO amazed that my children 6 and 18 will always choose real food to processed or take out. They like chips and processed snacks but after a bite or two will throw them out or complain that it gives them a headache then ask for apples carrots or grapes. I always have these available but truly they just choose what makes their bodies feel good

  20. I think Rule 1 is what will set some people up for failure in trying something like this – which I wholeheartedly support. A lot of people cannot read labels, cannot pronounce the words that are listed, or even know what they mean. Ingredients are listed according to their chemical names, for example Citric Acid is Vitamin C, but a label won’t read Vitamin C. If I can make a suggestion, if you don’t have one already make a list of “benign” or safe ingredients that people might not recognize or realize are common items in foods or even in their kitchen that will help others identify them.

  21. I am a subscriber to the Fresh 20 and it is a god-send. Has transformed my life as a busy working mom committed to providing healthy home-cooked meals for my family. Easy, delicious recipes and efficient shopping lists make it well, well worth the very reasonable subscription fee. Highly recommend!

  22. There are so many reasons not to eat grains…you have a great platform here and could help a ton of people by recommending against it. Grains cause inflammation in the body even if you aren’t allergic to gluten.

    See the work by Robb Wolf, Drs. Eades, Dr. Cordain, among others.

  23. Is there a recipe for the Honey Whole Wheat bread for traditional baking? I use my stand mixer and bake in a bread pan but I have yet to find a good sandwich bread that slices well. I’d love to try this recipe.

    1. Hi Janna! I had to reply because I have been trying different whole wheat breads for 6+ weeks now and nothing seemed to work (also I am newbie at making bread). Then I found this one It has very simple ingredients and it works best in a mixer (I use my hand though since I don’t have one!) see the tutorial. I know Lisa would recommend using more whole wheat flour (than the half white, half whole wheat this calls for). Maybe you could sub white whole wheat flour? Anyways, this is a VERY easy recipe, and VERY do-able ;) Been making it every week, and plan to make some for Christmas gifts (along with homemade jam). I hope that helps!

    2. Hi Janna, I have been baking my own bread for 2 years now. I went almost a year and almost gave up because my kids just wouldn’t eat it. They loved it fresh from the oven with butter, but they did not like it as sandwich bread- too “crumby” or something. Anyway, a friend came to visit and asked to borrow my electric knife to slice her homemade bread… my kids ate the whole thing! And it was the same recipe I had been using (100% fresh ground whole wheat, no white flour at all) The KNIFE made all the difference for us. Now, my kids think store-bought bread is weird, they are so used to homemade. Try using an electric knife to slice with, it makes all the difference!! :)

  24. I wanted to add that when it comes to organic produce, a great place to start is purchasing those that are part of the “dirty dozen”. If you are not ready to commit to spending extra money on all organic produce, just begin with this list, as they are the ones with the most pesticides! ;)

  25. Hello,

    I love your blog and its easy to use tips. I tried to cover the topic of beans in similar manner as well as weight loss for the summer but it works great for losing weight in any season. People really just want basic tips. The information about increasing your produce consumption was priceless and doable. Keep up the great work.
    Also I am a big believer in keeping nuts around as a healthy snack pistachios and sunflower seeds. Keep up the great work! :)

  26. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi Maria. I know it can be a challenge but I’ll share with you my personal experience. My kids do often grocery shop with me and I’ve gotten really good at just saying no. At first I had to spend a good bit of time explaining why. Now, they “get it” and while they will still test me, I know they have a pretty good understanding of why we do not eat much processed food. I have found that if I just don’t buy it, it is not an issue within our home. I have learned to loosen up a bit outside our home but have found the boys making better choices more often than not. Just stick with it and be sure to help them understand the “whys” behind the choices. This post will help with that: Also, Jamie Oliver’s Ted Talk was a big eye opener for my kids: Hope that helps. ~Amy

  27. I am trying so hard to keep the processed foods to a minimum. Do you take your children to the grocery store? My kids are wanting EVERYTHING packaged and I’m always saying, no, no, no…then there are the free samples that they bolt for (doughnut holes, bread, crackers–all processed stuff)…they are also getting so tired of “good for you” foods. I am totally a cook, so I would be happy to make them anything. I keep trying to change up the breads I make, the muffins, smoothies, dinners, etc. and so much is getting wasted. The kids are GORGING on “junk food” when it’s not in my control and eat even worse when they are with the grandparents (ie, being so picky). I don’t know if what I am doing is right, wrong or which way is up or down. I know in my heart I have to keep trying but I also don’t want them to a) worry about food and b) develop any kind of eating disordered patterns (they run in our family)
    Any help or advice would be great!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Maria. I know it can be a challenge but I’ll share with you my personal experience. My kids do often grocery shop with me and I’ve gotten really good at just saying no. At first I had to spend a good bit of time explaining why. Now, they “get it” and while they will still test me, I know they have a pretty good understanding of why we do not eat much processed food. I have found that if I just don’t buy it, it is not an issue within our home. I have learned to loosen up a bit outside our home but have found the boys making better choices more often than not. Just stick with it and be sure to help them understand the “whys” behind the choices. This post will help with that: Also, Jamie Oliver’s Ted Talk was a big eye opener for my kids: Hope that helps. ~Amy

  28. One thing I definitely should do in 2013 is read food labels, and it is something that I have been ignoring for quite a while, which is quite important to do. Another thing I am guilty of is NOT eating enough grain foods, but that is subject to change. Thanks so much for sharing this, i think my weight loss will definitely move in the right direction in 2013!

  29. I think that raw milk, which we purchase from a local dairy farmer through a cow-share program, is even better for you. No pasteurization to kill off beneficial properties and no homogenization to disrupt proteins being broken down in the digestive process.
    I grew up drinking this type of milk which we got from my aunt and uncle who were farmers and milked their own cows. My son, who has Aspergers and is casein-sensitive, has not had a problem with raw milk. It doesn’t make him constipated nor does it make him sick. Plus, it tastes great! It’s a win-win for us so far.

  30. I work doing food demos and it’s so disturbing reading labels. It is particularly upsetting how many products they’re slipping in artificial sweeteners. I glanced over at Jello Mousse one day and decided to read the ingredients and there it was, sucralose. They’re sticking it in everything. Now dairy companies don’t want to have to disclose artificial sweeteners in their flavored products. That it so illegal. I serve many people who are allergic to them and consumers have to know this information. I don’t understand how companies can get away without disclosing every single ingredient. One day I was doing McCormick salt-free Garlic & Herb demo at Sam’s Club when everyone was asking “Are you sure there’s no salt in this?” I never thought to look at the package of chicken and here it is injected with 10% chicken stock. It is their own chicken advertised “all natural.” You have to be so aware of everything.

  31. I love the Fresh 20 and appreciate the plug on your blog. I just wish they had a Gluten-Free Vegetarian option. Unfortunately, you can only pick one or the other.

  32. There was that study that was done recently out of Baylor School of Medicine that found that lunches from home were worse than school supplied cafeteria lunches. Researchers suggested that perhaps parents were more concerned with kids eating rather than worrying about what they were eating. Do those parents honestly think their children will starve? I agree with #5 (well all of them, of course :)) Give the kids some credit–and give them time to accept that there will be no more cheetohs. I know they can eat real food.

  33. I am just wondering about organic milk. Most if not all that I have seen is ultra pastuerized. I have heard that ultra pastuerization kills all the things that are good in the milk. Do you know whether or not that is true? And do you avoid ultra pastuerized dairy products?

  34. I have been following food restrictions for two months for a medical condition,, at least 85% of time. Hope this blog will help me. I often bake my own bread, but don’t have a recipe for any 100% whole grain bread
    All of my recipes are 50:50 at best. I think bakery bread is the same. If you can direct me to a recipe, I would appreciate it. I mostly make quick bread as aim to avoid yeast, ex: banana bread. I am not restricted from white flour, but from barley malt which is in white AP flour.

    We have had CSA shares in season. I don’t think organic dairy can be purchased locally. I use almond milk as I am lactose intolerant. We buy eggs from local farmers. (Organic, free range weather permitting)

    I am allowed processed cheese, but not aged cheese or yogurt. So this will be my one exception to the rules.
    Not allowed yeast products unless at least a day old. Not allowed any preservatives, nitrates, or fermented food. Very limited amounts of vinegar. I must buy chicken at specialty stores (from Amish farm) because the chain stores ALL have added “flavor enhancers”. I would eat white flour & sugar before I ate flavor enhancers.
    Local pork is easy to find, and sometimes beef.

    Haven’t seen flavor enhancers mentioned yet, but I suggest avoiding it same as MSG and HFCS.

  35. We are trying to eat healthy ,less or no processed for cooking and eating. I enjoy your site for tips,like reading the boxes and using fresh veg & fruit. I like to bake so I’ve changed a few things there. I think my daughter-in-law shared you on facebook,that’s how I found you. I think allot of people want to eat less processed food and this will help them get there. We garden and freeze & can everything we get,we have fruit trees & berries & asparagus patch.
    Thank you.

  36. I am so happy that I already do these things except sometimes I find myself buying some grains that are not 100%. The hardest thing for me is to find whole wheat orzo. Sometimes I order it from Amazon but it can get expensive. Thanks for all of the useful and user-friendly posts–you guys keep me inspired and focused! xo

    1. I tried and the deal is closed. Stating it closed at 1/15/13. ODD. Let me know if you have another link. Thank you of the heads up.

  37. Marlo,

    To me it seems you are complicating things. It’s easy to get bogged down in details. I eat organic or European cheese that is sold at Aldi’s. if you are concerned about a food coloring, buy white cheddar cheese. I live in small town but my local Kroger sells bread I can eat in the freezer section. It is sold in their organic section. I drink whole milk only because I try to stay away from processed food as much as possible to cook with and drink. From everything I have read whole milk is healthier. I am not a nutritionist so will not attempt to tell you if you should water down your children’s milk.
    Lisa’s site is well researched and has lots of good meal plans and recipes. Start your changes one step at a time and enjoy the food. It gets easier as you go along.


  38. Hello,

    I had emailed the info site, but have not received a return reply. I have some questions and see that you all are very prompt in replying here, so I’m going to post my email questions here in hopes to get some answers more quickly. Thank you so much:


    First, I want to say thank you sooo much for your blog. I have learned so much and enjoy learning more and more each day. So, we were a fairly conscious family in regards to eating non-processed foods, but I have learned there were/are a lot more in what we eat than I ever thought. The biggest change for me was removing Splenda! Amazing since I’m a hard core iced tea drinker. Anyway, I have a few questions that I need some assistance with, please.

    First – I was at the store this evening and was looking for cheese (deli section) and picked up various brands of cheese and noted the annato in so many of them (mostly the yellow cheese). I actually did not purchase any of them because I wanted to research it a little more since, you know, the rule is that I should know how to pronounce and/or know what it is. I looked on your blog and noticed it is deemed a natural form for coloring, however after reviewing the comments on one of the blog you posted about food colorings, I see that it can/may have affects or seem questionable to many of the parents. They found that many of the time time when removed from their diet, they saw great improvements in their kids… maybe to do w/that or not, but I’m just curious what are your thoughts on this? We are not dealing with any ADD/ADHD issues w/out kids, but I just want a clean of a cheese as possible.

    Two – I have had the absolute hardest time finding bread that follows the rules. OMG, even at Whole Foods I have a hard time finding anything. I had heard about a bread that was really only sold in the Northwest (I’m in CA) and thankfully I have found it now at our store, Dave’s Killer Bread. It doesn’t follow the rules in that there are way more than 5 ingredients, however that is because it has a gazillion seeds in it and those are listed, obviously. Can you take a look at this bread ingredients and tell me if they “work” when following the rules. I did receive a bread machine for Christmas and plan to start making my own, but I just want a bread that I can have on hand on weeks where I may not have as much time to prepare bread from home, etc (I’m a working mom). This bread is sooo yummy, but I’m wondering about the wheat gluten that is added and using the juices as the sweetener: the ingredients are: organic whole wheat flour, organic cracked whole wheat, water, power seed mix (they list all the seeds), organic fruit juices (pear, pineapple, peach, organic oat fiber, organic vital wheat gluten, organic rolled oats, sea salt, organic cultured wheat, yeast

    One last thing… please tell me it is OK to go 100% whole milk. I couldn’t bring myself to do it this weekend at the store b/c of fear of the fat content. Do you just limit your consumption? I have an underweight almost 2 year old (due to issues with birth weight) who definitely gets it, but my 3 year old usually has the 2% with us too. They are milk drinkers and water…. can or should I just water down his milk?

    Thanks so much for your help and I really do appreciate all of your knowledge!
    This is long, but I would really appreciate some assistance as we move forward w/this change of life!

    1. Trader Joes brand has only 5 real ingredients! And it’s a $1.99! It is their regular whole wheat bread I buy that if I’m not in the mood to make my own.

  39. This is great! I can give myself a big pat on the back because all of the above are happening in my household. Can you point me to the next five steps?

      1. I will look into that. I am blogging about my food journey (just started tonight so don’t expect much) but will be putting links within my blog to some of your pages when I reference them. Is that okay? I don’t know how all that works. I don’t make money or sell anything. A few friends just asked me to share.

  40. We are really good at each of these except for #3. We don’t drink much milk as my husband is sensitive to it, but I do purchase cheese. Just today I was looking into where we can buy local cheese and eggs, and it turns out that there are two shops in our town that I thought only sold meat, but they do cheese and eggs as well from local farmers (we are vegetarian, so I have never shopped at these stores). Still not organic, but I think buying local is a step up from buying from the big grocery store.

    Otherwise, I am personally trying to do “100 Days of Real Food” myself. We eat real food most of the time anyway, so it’s not a big life change, except that I do love sweets, so cutting that out will be a challenge. So far so good though!

  41. I do feel overwhelmed. After years and years of unhealthy eating habits, I wonder how I could ever become “pure.” But you make it manageable. One change I made last year, before reading this post, was to check EVERY packaged item for MSG. Unbelievable how many products use MSG. I made a conscious effort to get rid of that. Now, I shall continue my quest to eating real food. Thanks!

  42. I have been using the Fresh20 for months now. I love it! The recipes are delicious. Some are more time consuming than others, but I have been able to adapt them to fit my schedule. For the most part they are very time manageable, and let you know what to prepare ahead to save time. If one week looks particularly time consuming I will just skip it and pick another from the archives. It has majorly organized my grocery shopping too and thus probably saves me money. I have recommended it to all my family and friends!

  43. Thank you for stating “cutting out processed food doesn’t have to be all or nothing”. I tend to be a perfectionist in that if I can’t do something all the way then I get frustrated and give up. Your tips make this so much easier. I want to feed myself and family better, but honestly I grew up on processed food and it’s overwhelming to me to change. Knowing I can make little changes over time helps me to continue to pursue a better lifestyle.

    1. Lena, like you I’m a perfectionist and an all-or-nothing type of gal. I too grew up on processed foods (and the standard steak and potato dinners). I jumped head first into a whole foods diet about 8 weeks ago. Plus cut out all meat and most dairy. Yikes!!!
      It was definitely a shock. I felt like I was on mars! I’d walk around the grocery store and think, “I can’t eat a thing in here!” Restaurants were the enemy. I got pretty angry at the food industry for duping me for so long, and making me an addict. Plus at myself for clearly ignoring the old adage, An Apple a Day….
      But, I adjusted. It only took about 2 weeks (2 really lousy weeks, lots of headaches and malaise). My husband and I bought a juicer and love all the healthy foods we are eating, I have learned to make whole wheat bread, granola, wheat tortillas, and wheat crust for pizza. Plus all sauces from scratch!! I just dusted off the blender and went with it.I fill my entire cart in the produce section. AND I feel great! Oh and the weight loss is a nice side effect too….
      So, you can do a little at a time, or dive in. Either way, you are making the right choice!

  44. Nice list! We do some of this already… reading labels, for instance, and avoiding HFCS (we have an autistic son). We eat tons of veggies, and I’ve taken to dehydrating leafy greens and just adding them to *everything* (spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, any stew or soup, etc.) so I can get them into those who dislike them. We don’t buy organic much, because of the price and our limited budget, but we do buy local as much as possible. We also buy in season, when it’s cheaper, and then freeze or can or dehydrate for use the rest of the year. I’m loving eating our local potatoes, pulled up out of the cellar. We bought them in August and we’re *just* starting to see a couple of eyes forming on some, but most of them are still clear. :)

    Eating seasonal is a big one for me. One of my partners likes to pick up fruits out of season, and I deal (I mean, really… I’m not saying no to fresh strawberries and pears). I do try to stay mostly seasonal for veggies, though. This time of year we eat potatoes, carrots, turnips, cold weather greens, beans, etc. In another two months we’ll be eating early lettuce and dandilion greens. I’m going to force some green beans indoors, early, too… so I can have them out in the ground quite early, to supplement our store bought veggies.

    I’m also looking forward to getting some maple syrup and sugar this year. Last year we’d just moved into our new home, and I wasn’t organized enough to tap our trees. Now, though… we have access to hundreds of maples, and there are a dozen on our own property. I plan on tapping as many as I can, then making as much maple syrup and sugar as I can manage. Our family will use maple sugar in everything rather than refined white, and maple syrup goes in everything as well. :)

  45. Thanks for the tips, and for making real food seem more possible for people. I am still working on organic dairy products (cheese is very hard to come by) and organic produce, but I am making progress. This year we are going to participate in a CSA program here in Australia, and I love the idea that everything in our box will be locally-grown and mostly organic.

  46. I just became a HUGE fan of your webpage and what you are trying to promote. We are a paleo family and I have loved reading some of your posts and even getting some tips and advice. Thanks for sharing and caring!

  47. Mary,
    I live in North Florida also and I buy organic whole milk also, but it is $5 for a half gallon and it is ultra pasteurized too…no local stuff…any ideas on what would be better? Thinking about making my own almond milk since the store brands have carageenan in it and the canned coconut milk has BPA….ahhh!

    1. Amanda,
      No idea would could be better. It’s really too bad we can’t get the milk from local sources. I haven’t started using many others milks, like the almond or coconut. Thanks for the heads up on the yucky stuff.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Amanda. It’s a great choice. I don’t believe it will fall within the “rules” when doing the 10 day pledge, but, beyond that, it’s great. Jill

    2. I usually let the 5 ingredient rule slide and focus on WHAT the ingredients are. If I’m looking at a label, such as Ezekiel, and seeing 11 ingredients but all of them are organic whole grains, I’m not going to put it back because it’s “too many”. How many recipes do you use at home that are only five ingredients?

  48. I have started using the Fresh 20 this week. I LOVED the idea of having 20 ingredients and making them into meals to decrease our use of processed foods and increase our consumption of veggies. I have only made 3 of the 5 meals so far in my first week and they are absolutely DELICIOUS! I can’t believe how yummy the flavors are and my husband and kids are also impressed since I normally don’t cook much. It has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone with regards to cooking and eating foods. The only downside is that it seems to take soo long to cook;( I hope I can stick with it because it is really tough to cook that much while working and with a two and four year old running around and my husband has been sick too this week….I’ve been cooking and prepping mostly when they go to bed, but I am soo exhausted. I do like that she has a prep list which cuts down on time, but it is still a lot of work. Any ideas on how to make it go any faster?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Amanda. I’m not sure if it’s possible to do some chopping of veggies on the weekends…that will cut down quite a bit then on your prep times. Also, using leftovers always helps in getting a “night off”. Best of luck! Jill

  49. I live in north Florida and have searched several places for milk directly from the farm to avoid the added processing and hormones. The cheapest price I can find is $12 per gallon! It’s impossible to purchase milk at $12 a gallon for 6 people and not break the bank. I have the same question as Betsy. I have tried making cheese and the organic brands just don’t work. All of the brands available here are ultra pasteurized.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Mary. Here is the info I shared with Betsy…Organic in terms of dairy means that it must be obtained from animals that have been raised under specific animal welfare guidelines, given no antibiotics or growth hormones, provided with access to the outdoors, and fed with 100 percent organic feed – no animal byproducts or genetically modified or “GMO” crops – produced on land that has been free from the use of toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers for a minimum of three years. Farms must undergo USDA inspection and certification to bear the organic seal. The other milk you are referring to, while stating it is free of hormones and antibiotics, does not necessarily have to adhere to any of the other guidelines. Hope that helps. Jill

  50. I am trying to stop drinking milk entirely. I believe the consumption of milk (past infancy) is not good for your overall health.

  51. Hello –

    I like the idea of going whole grain but I was don’t have time to make our own bread. Do you have any store brand whole grains bread that you would recommend?


    1. I would try a local bakery. We found a little shop downtown thar had bread with only honey, salt, yeast, and whole wheat flour! A bread machine might also be a good investment, once you put in the ingredients, it kneads, rises, and bakes the dough without further effort. They aren’t too expensive, actually it wouldn’t be too hard to find one at a thrift store. Best of luck!

      1. Sydney’s suggestion about a bread machine is great! It is so easy and takes nearly no time. Thrift stores around here have them all the time and they are cheap! I like it because some weeks my family eats a lot of bread and it’s easier to throw ingredients in the machine than go to town for me. Some weeks they eat nearly none – so this way we can make as needed.

  52. Thanks for the wonderful ideas! Small changes make a big difference. At the end of July 2012 I changed the way I ate- less processed sugars, more fruits and veggies, whole grain wheat bread (most of the time because I can’t always get to the local bakery), and switched the main foods I was eating to the natural, real form. I still enjoy some ice cream or pie on occassion and found it hard to switch to real foods with everything I ate. So I just changed the top 10 or so things I eat regualarly. I have lost 8 lbs and my cholesterol dropped 55 points!!!! My body needed this! Thanks for helping me become more aware and giving me so many great ideas. My life is better because of it!!!

  53. I stumbled upon your blog over a year ago and was skeptical to say the least because I already considered myself to be a healthy eater. But as I read article after article on your blog and then on the food babes blog I began to wonder. I started making small food substitutions, and started buying organic whenever possible, but the turning point for me was when I finally convinced my husband to try it with me. That was six months ago. As of today, I have lost 20 lbs, and my husband has lost over 50 lbs. His IBS is gone, and my chronic sinusitis (think allergies without an identifiable cause) is gone. Are we perfect eaters 100% of the time? No, we do still eat processed food occasionally, but what I’ve been finding is that when I do allow myself the food that I’m craving, it doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as I remembered and I stop craving it. We’re definitely spending more money at the grocery store these days, but now we actually eat the food that we buy instead of eating out all the time. But most importantly I don’t feel deprived of anything: I feel really good. Thank you!

  54. I have the same question as Betsy. My local grocer has that statement on their milk as well. My daughter didn’t like the taste of the organic and my husband agreed that it DID have a taste difference. So, we buy whole milk to reduce the processing aspect, but it’s not organic. Thoughts?

    1. The taste is most likely the result of the cows’ diet. Grass-fed cows produce milk that will taste different than corn-fed cows. However, grass is healthier for the cows and at least when it comes to eating their meat healthier for any person consuming it (the fat profile of the meat is different – the balance of Omegas 3-6-9 changes). In fact, the bad name that “red meat” gets is largely a result of the corn diet of the cows. I’m not sure of the human health impact of the milk (vs. the meat), but I have to assume that there are similar benefits.

      The biggest benefit is that pasture-raised cows are generally not crowded into CAFOs and feed lots, and that usually correlates with no growth hormones and no preventative antibiotic usage. No farmer who is committing to pasture is going to sully his/her product with those other items because they are aiming for an informed market. It’s the only “single item” signifier that I trust on milk. If they claim something very specific such as “hormone-free” or “anti-biotic free” that, to me, usually indicates that they are trying to do the bare minimum in reaction to the health concern of the moment. Pasture-raised, though, indicates a concern with quality and health over cost.

    2. Maybe the bad taste of the organic milk is due to the pasteurization process. Most organic milk is UHT (ultra-high temperature) pasteurized which leaves a clear off-flavor.

    3. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jennifer. Here is what I shared with Betsy…Organic in terms of dairy means that it must be obtained from animals that have been raised under specific animal welfare guidelines, given no antibiotics or growth hormones, provided with access to the outdoors, and fed with 100 percent organic feed – no animal byproducts or genetically modified or “GMO” crops – produced on land that has been free from the use of toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers for a minimum of three years. Farms must undergo USDA inspection and certification to bear the organic seal. The other milk you are referring to, while stating it is free of hormones and antibiotics, does not necessarily have to adhere to any of the other guidelines. Hope that helps. Jill

  55. Ok good tips but #3 bothers me. Being someone that works with research animals and in school for veterinary technology, I have had personal on hand experience with dairy cattle and their producers. There are NO and I mean NO hormones in your ordinary dairy milk. You would not believe the work and protocols dairy farmers must meet. If a cow is treated with any antibiotic it must go through a withdrawal time in which the antibiotic is fully out of the system. Any milk collected from this cow is dumped or given to calves. If a veterinarian does not tell the farmer this, he/she is held liable for that cow. ALSO please realize that the organic business is not the “best” option. Not giving antibiotics to a sick cow does not mean that it is better for her. Letting her suffer in order to keep an organic claim is not good for her. Now many organic businesses will sell the sick cow to feedlot or to its sister “non organic” franchise.

    Also there is no pus in the milk. Each bulk tank is tested for somatic cell counts (white blood cells). The legal limit is 750,000 cells/ml and even though that sounds like a big number, its not. CELLS / ML..Also organic cows are JUST as susceptible for mastitis (inflamation or increased leukocytes in udder) that non organic cows or if anything, more susceptible since they are even more under the microscope when it comes to giving their cattle the healthcare they need.
    Now as far as eating genetically modified corn, I have no comment. I have not read of any scientific evidence supporting that it is unhealthy. I am not saying its not out there, I just haven’t read any.

    This is a great blog, keep up the great work!

    1. Michelle, thanks for the great information. I guess everybody agrees, that nothing speaks against giving antibiotics to treat acute diseases in cows, and I am actually surprised about your comment, that some organic farmers rather let their cows suffer than giving them treatment. But how about preventative use of antibiotics? Or antibiotics given to improve feed efficiency and growth?

      1. Antibiotics wouldn’t do anything for growth. Antibiotics are only used to treat bacterial infections. That is all they can do. They are useless in viral infections and do nothing for growth or feed efficiency (Unless of course the cow is sick and antibiotics are given to treat that infection, thus the cow grows and eats better once it is healthy). In the veterinary medical field, preventative antibiotics make us cringe. It really would be a lose/lose situation. You don’t want to build up a resistance to an antibiotic plus once the cow is given that antibiotic she must undergo withdrawal periods in which her milk cannot be used. This means money loss for the farmer and with the economy in agriculture he can’t afford that. There is no shooting cows up with antibiotics because of a runny nose. They are only given when they absolutely NEED it. Also as far as good humane treatment for cows: Even non “organic” dairy farmers like to treat their cows well. Not just for the sake of the cow, but a happy cow gives more milk and more milk means more money. Is it the best life in the world for them? Well no. Any animal can be “better” when left to their own devices. But then you go into a whole different ball game with that conversation. But back to my point just remember there are no antibiotics in normal milk. Its illegal. And no high levels of hormones either. I sat a lecture last year and learned that soy milk has something like 7-10 times the amount of estradiol than dairy. Yet soy is seen as more “healthy” in terms of most consumers. And thanks for your reply! Sorry for the length (I tend to get on the soapbox ha)

      2. Thanks Michelle for the information. I have to disagree with you, antibiotics are widely used as growth promotors ( in animal feeds. Some countries have banned them, but they are still allowed in the US.

        Milk from hormone-treated cows might not contain higher hormone levels than not-treated cows, but is that really the core issue? Is it really necessary to pump up animals with growth hormones and hormones to increase milk production? I am not claiming that organic dairy production is per se better than conventional dairy production, but at least some practices (hormones, antibiotics as growth promoters) are banned for organic farmers. Concerning treating the cows well, I think it is more a matter of management of the farm than organic/non-organic – I’ve once visited an organic farm that just grossed me out…

        Thanks again for your information. I think it adds a lot to the discussion and shows us that milk from conventional farmers is safe to consume due to tight regulations and controls.

    2. Michelle, thanks so much for your post. I think there are a lot of misconceptions of what the term organic means. I also think there is a lot of fraud in organic claims. We drink regular store brand milk because I simply can’t afford to pay, literally, twice the price for organic milk. So it’s nice to hear from someone who has hands on experience.

      1. I just wanted to say that we drink local, low temp pasteurized, non- homogenized m ilk and it is NOT twice the price of store milk. You should look around your area and see what is offered. This farm sells their milk to the local health food store and its a little pricier, but they have weekly milk pick up locations around town. I just looked up the national average and it’s $3.65, our milk is only $4 a gallon. Quite a good price and even if you were to believe what Michelle has to say (which I respectfully don’t) it tastes 100 times better than store milk :-)

      2. Jessica, that is completely fine. I actually have never tasted local milk and it might actually taste better. Its just not worth the effort for me right now and so long as my milk is safe, I am completely fine with that. Its great you got a good deal on what you prefer yourself.

      3. Jessica, I live in South Florida. and I buy my produce from Annie’s Organic Buying Club, which is a more economical way of buying fresh produce. The organic milk from Annie’s is $8 per gallon. At Publix, Organic Valley is $3.99 per half gallon. At Whole Foods, it’s a little bit more and at Walmart, a little less. but it’s still twice the price. I would love to get local milk for the same price as store bought milk, but in a Metropolitan area, it’s just not available.

    3. Bravo, Michelle! Once again, I think we are being duped by media with some of the “organic-hype”. Organic is good, no doubt, but we are buying into myths about both non-organic and organics without doing our homework. Some folks in organic production are taking advantage of non-informed consumers who respond solely to the word “organic”. We raise beef cattle and treat them, as needed, with antibiotics for health concerns- not for growth stimulation. Our herd is small and primarily used for our family and friends. Grass and grain-fed, but not “certified organic”- that requires all kinds of hoop-jumping and regulations!

      1. Jan and Michelle-thank you for your honest posts! I also think the media uses fear to dupe people. My family raises good, grain fed beef and only uses antibiotics for medicinal purposes and never uses hormones. Not every beef producer follows these rules, obviously, so we as a society, need to do our homework as to where our food is coming from and how it is grown.

  56. Let him have the Gatorade. You will need resentment and rebellion if you forbid it. If he eats real food 90% of the time that is great! Let him be with his friends and feel a part of them. Most children want to fit in.

  57. I have been using the Fresh 20 to keep on track with a healthy diet for about 3 weeks now. It is really easy to follow and because you only have 20 ingredients, it has cut down on my time at the grocery store. Above all, it is kid approved. All 3 of my kids have enjoyed the meals I have cooked.
    Love the post above about sports teams and such. My son is on a competitive soccer team and we struggle with this as well. Luckily we have been fortunate to take our own drinks, but I have struggled with the fact that gaterade isn’t healthy. I mean aren’t we supposed to replace electrolytes lost? So, I just googled what to drink instead of gaterade. There are some great resources out there and they all point to drinking water. I did find a recipe to mimick gaterade though. Use one part organic fruit juice to one part water and add a pinch of organic sea salt. Sounds easy enough and our athletes won’t feel left out. Look forward to seeing some other answers on this.

  58. I love all of these tips. Overall, we have done quite well with offering the kids real food most of the time. However, I do find it to be a problem when we are not at home. For example, my 11 year old plays on a baseball team that has over 45 games per season. I always packed lunches, snacks and lots of water. Last year, his coach always arrived with a huge cooler of gatorade or powerade. My son got very upset if we didn’t let him have the same things the other boys were drinking even though he *knows* that all the sugar / fake sugar / artificial everything was bad for him. He is the type of child that does not want to be different. We had the same problems between games with the concession stand. He wanted the gross snacks the other boys ate. Any suggestions?

    1. This may sound horrible but maybe helpful? Take a gaterade/powerade that they offer and run and dump it out!!! Then add your own water and a drop of food coloring that is mentioned somewhere on this blog. Add a packet of Emergen-C too. That way it looks like he’s blending right in if that’s wha he’s worried about.

    2. Personally, I would talk to the Coach, and ask him to bring water. (You could talk to other parents beforehand and see if they would prefer water for their children, as well.)

      My second suggestion is to educate your son. Tell him the components in the food, and why you feel it best that your family avoids them. He is definitely old enough to understand. :-) Good luck!

    3. I personally would not worry too much about a Gatorade or a “gross snack” every now and then. Food is not just about providing your body with nutrients, it is also about enjoyment and a social event. Having a “gross snack” and a Gatorade after a baseball game sounds like fun to me and I would not want my son to miss it.

      1. I think it’s a decision we all have to make. 45 games in a season doesn’t sound like once in a while to me. It must be a few times a week. She may want her son to understand that sometimes we can’t do something to fit in with our friends, if it goes against our ideals.
        At 11, what might help is letting him read articles that show that there is no reason for kids to be needing sports drinks- regular water and a meal later is enough.
        My son isn’t at that age yet, he’s 4 and doesn’t want anything artificial, but I know peer pressure is real. I think about those days.

      2. 45 games is about once a week, which does not sound too bad to me. “…if it goes against our ideals” – is in this case OUR ideals or the ideals of the parents which kids inevitably have to share? He is 11 years, an age at which IMHO parents should not micro-manage every single detail of his live anymore. In just a couple of years he is anyway going to make his own choices about food. I think, kids/teenagers develop a healthier attitude towards food if “rules” are not as religiously preached and enforced.
        Besides that, I perfectly agree with you that kids and adults (!) do not need sports drinks after exercise.
        My daughter is 4 too, and she loves almost anything artificial and at daycare/birthday parties/other people’s homes she already consumes stuff she would not have access to at home, but I am not too concerned about it.

      3. Sports seasons in school are generally only a few months (three ‘seasons’ in a school year) – her son is more likely doing a few games a week.

    4. @ Wendy – I agree with you on limiting our childs intake; specifically for the reason that in a few years they will make all their own decisions. But true the forcing issue will send them in the other direction. My son, who is 10, and wants to be like the rest, was on a fall baseball team that played 3 times a week; and the home team provided meal/snack. Perhaps give him a game a week to “indulge” so to speak. Maybe he’ll be more willing to meet you half way.

    5. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Wendy. This is a tough one. Ultimately you and your son will have to come to some sort of compromise is my guess. Maybe you and he can work it out where he get’s to have it some of the time and he gets to pick. Again, you’ll have to do what’s right for your family. Best of luck. Jill

  59. @BetsyD I see where you are coming from as I often wonder the same thing.

    I think the real food blogger mostly gets her milk from a local supply so she knows it is from “grass fed” cows.

    Most organic milk in the grocery store still comes from cows that are fed corn, albeit organic corn. It is the “grass fed” cows’ milk that is hard to come by. The organic milk in most grocery stores in my opinion is only a slight step ahead of regular milk.

    There is probably more info on this topic on the Real Food’s site/blog if you search for her blog on milk.

  60. Love this, simple and makes it so much less overwhelming. I saw in a documentary that some non-organic milk may contain puss because of the antibiotics/diet the cows are put on. Enough to make me never want it again, and that was my first big change.

  61. BetsyD – I’ve only seen non-organic milk labeled “from cows not treated with rBGH.” I don’t know this for sure, but I think it means that they’re still pumped with antibiotics and fed things like GMO corn.

  62. Thanks for the great tips! I was just talking to my sisters yesterday about your site and plan and today’s email appeared! I’ve incorporated a few things over the past year, but want to do alot more this year! My sister bought “French Kids Eat Everything” and I’ve skimmed thru it; I am so greatful for all this helpful information!

    And I think the mfg. of regular milk just use crafty wording or certain levels of antibiotics to enable the label to read as such; I plan on buying strickly organic milk now – since I can’t wash it! :-)

  63. I love #5! I saw a friend’s picture of her daughter and another kid eating (almost the entire) bag of Lays Sour Cream Chips! Her daughter is only 20 months old and the boy was around 4. I believe that it is up to the parents to teach their kids how to eat / snack healthy. It’s ok to have ice cream, a brownie, etc. occasionally but most of the food you eat should have some nutritional component to it – last time I checked Lays potato chips don’t!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Andrea. Here is the info I shared with Besty…Organic in terms of dairy means that it must be obtained from animals that have been raised under specific animal welfare guidelines, given no antibiotics or growth hormones, provided with access to the outdoors, and fed with 100 percent organic feed – no animal byproducts or genetically modified or “GMO” crops – produced on land that has been free from the use of toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers for a minimum of three years. Farms must undergo USDA inspection and certification to bear the organic seal. The other milk you are referring to, while stating it is free of hormones and antibiotics, does not necessarily have to adhere to any of the other guidelines. Hope that helps. Jill

  64. Question on the dairy: I’ve noticed that my store brand + other brands (like Walmart) have put a statement on their labels claiming that the milk comes from cows not treated with hormones or antibiotics. So, if this is the case, what is the difference between this milk and organic milk….other than the price?

    1. The growth hormone that the store brands say that they don’t use (rGBH) is not the only advantage of organic. The cows are fed an organic diet, preferably grass (you have to look for grass fed). It’s what goes into the cows that makes the milk organic. rGBH is just one thing. I ultimately prefer low-heat pasteurized (pasteurization kills a lot of the naturally occurring things we need from milk) and non-homogenized (homogenization is unnatural and breaks the fat down so much that it can be dangerous to your arteries). this is not always easy to find, especially right now because I just moved to a whole different city and state and I have no idea where to find what I want, so I just went with local, grass-fed for now. But, rGBH is just one consideration when buying milk. And since most farmers “pledge” not to use it, it is a small concern these days.

    2. That is just one of a few controversial growth hormones that are allowed in conventional dairy. Organic means the cows are also given feed grown without artificial pesticides and they are not given more anibiotics or other growth hormones.

    3. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Betsy. Organic in terms of dairy means that it must be obtained from animals that have been raised under specific animal welfare guidelines, given no antibiotics or growth hormones, provided with access to the outdoors, and fed with 100 percent organic feed – no animal byproducts or genetically modified or “GMO” crops – produced on land that has been free from the use of toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers for a minimum of three years. Farms must undergo USDA inspection and certification to bear the organic seal. The other milk you are referring to, while stating it is free of hormones and antibiotics, does not necessarily have to adhere to any of the other guidelines. Hope that helps. Jill