Why Real Food Matters

By Sarah Goughnour

From fitness gurus to foodies on Pinterest, the web is obsessed with the idea of real food. Eating real, or clean food is a brilliantly simple commandment: to eat minimally processed, natural, whole foods in order to stay healthy. This already accessible and easy trend has been made popular by bloggers like Lisa Leake, at 100 Days of Real Food.” Leake’s inspiring 100-day challenge to eat whole foods, and foods with pure, recognizable ingredients, makes clean eating a fun and rewarding adventure. Even Time magazine is recognizing the trend, citing a USDA study that says Americans have started to eat cleaner, home-cooked meals. Eating clean helps to cut down on sugar, fat, and calorie intake.

Incorporating real foods into a diet helps control eating habits. Time magazine’s study found that Americans are more aware of nutrition facts when meals are more frequently cooked at home, which led to a 5 percent drop in calorie intake for most adults subscribing to real foods. The food industry makes eating processed junk too easy. When we can grab entire meals off the shelf of a grocery store, or from a drive-thru window, we no longer have to put any thought into what goes into our bodies. Quality has been traded in for convenience. Eating clean means giving up the passive routine of modern food to take an active role in maintaining health.

The Real Food Challenge, inspired by Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, rules out all refined grains and sugars, deep fried and fast foods, and packaged food with “more than five ingredients listed on the label.”  Whether shopping or cooking, participants are forced to think about what goes into their food in a whole new way. The thought, preparation, and awareness that go into eating clean are like a work-out session for your diet.

Restaurants and supermarkets don’t need or expect any conscious thought from consumers, but the muscle your diet gains from clean eating is a way to fight back against the apathy of the modern food routine. When you take control of your lifestyle by choosing what you eat and how you eat it, the benefits are far greater than just nutrition. If you invest your time and thoughts into a meal of well-prepared fruits, vegetables, meats, and whole grains, then hot dogs and potato chips become a little less important. A real food diet is more than just eating clean, it’s eating smart.

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Categories: Your Nutrition

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