Jenna from Food with Kid Appeal recently asked how you start moving from the SAD (Standard American Diet) to more of a Real Foods diet. She was looking for ideas from her readers. Of course, I had to give my two cents but for some reason I can’t find my comments now. Basically, the first thing we did after reading Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” was eliminate HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) from our diet as much as possible.
You can argue all you want about whether it is better or worse than cane or beet sugar, but the fact remains that it is ridiculously cheap due to the government’s subsidies of the corn industry. (If interested in more information, go watch the documentary King Corn.) So, it is used whenever a food manufacturer wants to use “the cheapest crap possible” to make their product.
So, if you avoid it, then you automatically are eating higher quality food. Also, it is used heavily in processed foods, so avoiding it will reduce the processed foods in your diet and increase the whole foods, since you have to eat something. Something else we eliminated from our diets early was hydrogenated oils and trans fats. Again, not eating them means you can’t eat most of the “junk foods” out there.
An example of how it works is my husband Mike’s snacking. Before we started improving our diets, I would buy a box of Little Debbie Swiss Rolls each week and he (and I) would often reach for that if we wanted a snack.
Little Debbie Swiss Roll Ingredients:
Sugar, corn syrup, water, enriched bleached flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin b1), riboflavin (vitamin b2), folic acid),partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil with TBHQ to preserve flavor, dextrose, palm and palm kernel oil, cocoa, colors (caramel color, red 40), soybean oil, eggs, leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate), whey (milk), emulsifiers (sorbitan monostearate, polysorbate 60, soy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, polyglycerol esters of fatty acids), salt, corn starch, sorbic acid, egg whites, natural and artificial flavors, citric acid
Well there are lots of things in there that we also avoid now such as food dyes, but the first and second ingredients are both forms of sugar. Then, there is enriched bleached flour, which means it is NOT whole wheat, and then we have hydrogenated oils. Next up is dextrose, yet another form of sugar. So, no more eating this food. What was the replacement for Mike? BANANAS and APPLES!
In the past, when we were consuming lots of processed foods, real foods like bananas and apples did not taste sweet to him. Thus, they were not the first thing he would reach for as a snack. But, after removing lots of processed foods by cutting out foods with HFCS, his taste buds returned to their natural state and bananas and apples were sweet to him, as they should have been all along if he had been eating real foods.
Also, one of the food rules from Pollan to keep in mind is “If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you are not hungry.” I think that sometimes we eat because we are bored, want a pick-me-up or want to reward ourselves with a treat. Giving yourself the first option of an apple (or some other veggie or whole fruit) as a snack causes you to examine if you are really eating because you are hungry or for some other reason.
As you move along the path to more real food, what have you done first and what has been most successful for you?