Choose mostly whole or minimally processed foods
Avoid highly processed and fast foods
Hydrate with water instead of sweetened beverages or juice
Real food is simple.
Fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, seafood, nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans are all real food. Natural sweeteners, coffee, chocolate and wine count, too—just enjoy them in moderation!
Real food is not complicated.
It is not highly processed, and it doesn’t have long, complex ingredient lists and items you can’t pronounce or visualize easily.
“The short definition of ‘real’ food is food that doesn’t have a Nutrition Facts label. If it has a label, something’s been done to the food. If it doesn’t, nothing’s been done, it’s ‘real.’”
Robert Lustig, MD
“Real food is simple. Fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, seafood, nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans are all real food, in my book. Real food is minimally processed and doesn’t contain strange or unfamiliar ingredients. Natural sweeteners, coffee, chocolate and wine count, too—just enjoy them in moderation!”
Elle Penner, MPH, RD, MyFitnessPal Senior Registered Dietitian
“Real food, for me, is something as minimally processed as possible. I want to read the ingredients list and not need a PhD to decipher it. Bonus points if the ingredients list is five items or less.”
Nanette S., MyFitnessPal User
“Eat the most flavorful, best-tasting whole foods you can find—amazing tomatoes, killer strawberries, sublime peaches, awesome grass-fed beef. You’ll soon discover that junk food just doesn’t stack up to the real thing. As your palate changes, your body will, too. Eating ‘real food’ won’t be a challenge anymore—it’ll be a way of life.”
Mark Schatzker, Author of "The Dorito Effect"
“Real food is food that comes directly from the earth or is kept as close to that state as possible. Real food nourishes with the shortest, most pronounceable ingredients list—it’s safe to eat, but when left to its own devices, it can rot away.”
Trinh Le, MPH, RD, MyFitnessPal Registered Dietitian
“You find real food when you walk the perimeter of the grocery store: fruit, veggies, fresh meat and some dairy. The least amount of processed food (down the center aisles), the better!”
Brooke S., MyFitnessPal User
“Real food is any food that supports you in all the amazing things you achieve today and dream of achieving tomorrow. It's food that brings you joy and satisfaction while always keeping your long-term health in mind. Real food is food that is worthy of you … because it was made with love.”
Maya Adam, MD
CHOOSE YOUR LEVEL
Commit to eating 1, 2 or 3 clean eating meals a day for 10 days.
Snack on whole, unprocessed foods and hydrate with water only.
IT'S THAT SIMPLE.
Consider this level if you mainly eat highly processed convenience foods or fast food.
Consider this level if you frequently eat highly processed convenience foods or fast food.
Consider this level if you occasionally eat highly processed convenience foods or fast food.
Highly processed foods have changed what people eat, and not for the better. When foods are heavily processed, nutrition is stripped, fiber is removed, and sugar is added. A lot of sugar. Unfortunately, the food supply has been adulterated worldwide. It’s no coincidence that, despite massive advances in health-care and nutrition research, globally we’re more overweight and sicker than we were 50 years ago. Getting back to eating real food is the first step toward improving our health and the food supply.
A recent study led by Robert Lustig, MD, showed that by simply taking fructose (from added sugar) out of the diet for 10 days, liver fat was reduced nearly 30%. There was no reduction in calories in the diet the patients were put on. Why is this important? A fatty liver is both a sick liver and a leading indicator for metabolic disease, which significantly increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes. A fatty liver can occur in anyone, it doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, thin or overweight.
Ten days may not be long enough to leave you with a set of completely new diet habits, but it will leave you with a social network to get you there; one that can provide you with support and encouragement along your health journey.
In addition to personal momentum, challenges create social momentum. Together, we can start a movement. A movement toward eating more unprocessed, real foods, foods that create wellness, not illness.
Check out the resources below to help you incorporate more real food into your diet.
For only $.99 (regularly $2.99), you can stream the public television program Sweet Revenge: Turning the Tables on Processed Food which offers practical ways to get sugar and processed food out of your life and explains why real food is essential to good health.
Eat well and do good! 15% of your purchase supports the Institute for Responsible Nutrition in its mission to end food-related illness and promote good health.
Click here to take advantage of this special offer. Enter the Code "MFPIRNe" for the English version and "MFPIRNs" for the Spanish version.
Click here for a preview of the program.