If you’ve read any part of MY STORY, you’ll know that my journey to becoming Real Food Girl: Unmodified took over a decade. I started slow, had periods of apathy and laziness, coupled by being severely overwhelmed by all the information I was learning through research and by all the things I knew I shouldn’t eat vs. what I wanted to eat, and it took me some time to get to where I am today.
If I can help you avoid some of the frustration, confusion, anxiety, rebellion, laziness, lack of support that I dealt with while trying to change my eating habits, by sharing how I got started, and by giving you the guidelines and rules I follow than I will. I cannot express enough the importance of understanding that this IS a journey. In my opinion a journey never really ends. There are just too many facets to a good journey and I would just enjoy the pilgrimage and accompany me and other Real Food bloggers in whatever way works for you personally, and, for your family. My advice is to not compare your progress of making changes to someone else’s progress. We all move at different speeds and not everyone will have those “light bulb moments” as quickly as everyone else.
Did you know that it took watching the documentary titled GENETIC ROULETTE for me to pull my proverbial head out of my proverbial toosh and put into action everything that I’d learned over the past 10 years about food? Yup. It did. It’s like a switch was flipped in my head and it became more than head knowledge– it became heart knowledge, too. I went from that aloof attitude of “Yeah, yeah, I know… I know… to being humbled by this information and finally “getting it”. After I watched that documentary, the very next day we made drastic changes and threw out a ton of “food” from our pantry and from that day forward we no longer shop at our local chain grocery stores. That documentary provided me the kick in the pants I needed to make the changes that I should have made years ago. That documentary was the catalyst to making me Real Food Girl: Unmodified.
Now we only shop at the Co-op, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. I will only go to my local grocery store for paper products and bandaids. Yes, they do sell organic food there, but it is much more expensive than the other places that we shop and the quality is worse than the conventional produce they offer.
I’ll leave you with this example of how everyone is at a different place in their journey to eating Real/Whole foods. I still eat sugar. It’s organic cane sugar that is minimally processed, but it’s sugar. It’s processed- come to think of it, so is honey and maple syrup, but I digress. I’m not at a place yet where I’m ready to give up using organic cane sugar, nor do I know if I ever fully will. Nevertheless I am eating about 70% less sugar than I used to and that is progress! You control your progress. You will advance as quickly or slowly as you like because it’s YOUR journey.
Be respectful of where other people are if they’re not as far along as you, and understand that someone further along in their journey than you are might just be a little excited and passionate when it comes to helping you move further along in yours. Come along side someone who is new to this lifestyle and encourage and guide them. Walk in patience, mercy, grace and most of all respect people and their progress.
WHY RULES? (GUIDELINES)
Like most families today, we’re on a tight budget. When I shop I aim to buy as many Certified Organic and non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) and non-GE (Genetically Engineered– like Salmon; aka Frankenfish) items as possible. Sometimes that isn’t always an option. For those times when I may not be able to purchase something that is fully organic, I work to avoid purchasing any food, whether processed or whole (like produce, dairy and meats) that contains GMOs or is GE.
One of the ways that I avoid buying those GMOs is by reading labels, and knowing the top 10 GMO crops. A second way is that I will follow my Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 list, when it comes to produce so I can eliminate excessive insecticides and pesticides in my diet, and finally, I’ll use the “Real Food Rules” (Guidelines) to help direct me when it comes to any packaged foods. I made these rules (Guidelines) because if I can’t buy 100% certified organic, then I’m at least going to be very wise about what I do buy and put into my body and The Stud Muffin’s body.
If I find myself in need of purchasing processed foods such as a can of soup, box of cereal, chicken stock, frozen pizza, cookies, chips, pasta, yogurt, I will use these Real Food Rules to ensure I’m purchasing something safe to eat. If the product lines up with my rules/guidelines, I will buy it. If not, I come up with another option because I really don’t feel well when I put certain fake ingredients into my body. There are times when I will find an item that has one or two of the ingredients listed below and that is when I weigh my options and make a decision. Eating enriched flour isn’t going to kill me, nor will it hurt me (I don’t have gluten tolerance issues) as much as say MSG or HFCS. It’s all about what is best for you and what works for you. We’re all different. This isn’t a time to get all Judgey McJudgeypants over food “rules”. Find what works for you and your family. It’s that simple.
I can’t help you on your journey if I’m not honest about mine. If I don’t practice what I preach, then I’m just another gum-flapping, hot-air-blowing idiot with a keyboard who thinks they can tell you what you should do, all while stuffing Cheetos down their pie-hole. I’ll be darned if I’m going to be one of those people! I live this! I’m not only all about Real food, but about being real with my readers as well.
Below are the “Real Food Rules” (Guidelines) that I apply to any processed food, or any food item that isn’t labeled as GMO-Free or Organic. I will discuss the harmful side effects of these ingredients in separate articles here in the blog. I felt it was important to at least get the list of ingredients you shouldn’t consume posted so you could get started on limiting to eliminating your consumption of these ingredients.
Real Food Girl Rules: (Guidelines)
- Avoid MSG: MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
- MSG has other aliases such as: Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Yeast, Autolyzed Yeast, Natural Flavors, Vegetable Protein Extract, Yeast Extract, Glutamate, Glutamic Acid, Sodium Caseinate, Textured Protein, Soy Protein Isolates, Barley Malt, Calcium Caseinate, Malt Extract, Sodium Caseinate, Hydrolyzed Oat Flour, celery juice/extract, and Autolyzed Protein.
- Avoid Artificial Dyes or Artificial Colors:
- It’s easy to decipher ingredient lists that contain artificial food coloring. Look for any color followed by a number (e.g. Blue 1 or Yellow No.6). Of particular concern are Yellow No.5, Blue No.2, and Red No.3.
- Avoid anything with the words “ENRICHED”:
- It means they’ve stripped away the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals of a food and then added in synthetic ones after the food was processed to a point where it really is no longer a real food.
- Avoid Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (one of MSG’s hidden names):
- Foods that can contain this ingredient are: soups, sauces, chilis, stews, hot dogs, gravies, seasoned snack foods, dips, and dressings.
- Avoid anything with the words “BLEACHED”:
- The bleaching process removes most of the nutrients, and you end up with an empty calorie/nutrient deficient “food”.
- Avoid Artificial Preservatives:
- Such as Nitrates and Nitrites:
- Avoid Artificial Flavors and Nothing that says “Flavored”:
- There is an abundance of “Flavored” products in stores including everything from oatmeal to cream cheese to beverages to yogurts. Believe me, these manufacturers are going to use a lot more sugar, salt, oil, and unrecognizable ingredients than you would use to flavor these foods at home.
- Avoid Carrageenan:
- A fat replacing additive, carrageenan is a stabilizer/thickener/filler substance derived from red seaweed. This wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t bastardize it during processing and create a harmful substance in the process.
- Avoid anything that is labeled “No-Fat” or “Low-Fat” or “Sugar-Free”:
- When they remove the fat, they have to add something back in to replace that fat. Generally synthetic emulsifiers and thickeners are added in as well as a lot more sugar and sodium to make it taste good.
- Avoid Polysorbate 60 or 80:
- I’ll cover why to avoid these in a separate article. Just be aware that these ingredients are also found in vaginal itch creams, acne medications, it’s used to make yoga mats, and much more.
- Avoid Hydrogenated Oils or Partially Hydrogenated Oils:
- If it’s hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated it’s a trans-fat. You might as well consume melted plastic food storage containers.
- Avoid Soy:
- This also means no other forms of soy, as in soybean oil, soy lecithin, soy milk unless it is Non-GMO Project Certified.
- Fermented, Non-GMO soy products are fine in moderation.
- No Corn:
- Or any corn derivative such as corn syrup, HFCS, corn sugar. Unless it is Non-GMO Project Certified.
- Corn is a registered pesticide that is regulated by the EPA and Monsanto registered their GE Roundup Ready Corn as an antibiotic. It’s not even a vegetable anymore. UNLESS it is certified organic. That’s the only corn I would trust.
- Avoid “Sugar”:
- Unless it states “organic cane sugar” on the label. If it says organic “cane sugar”, I’ll buy it. If it just says “sugar” it is most likely made from sugar beets, which are a GMO corn.
- Avoid Canola or Cotton Oil: (unless organic)
- Coconut, Ghee (clarified butter) and olive oils are better. Choose a high quality olive oil- preferably one that has been imported.
- Avoid HFCS: (High Fructose Corn Syrup)
- Don’t let the commercials pull the wool over your eyes. It may come from corn, but what happens to the “corn” as they process it makes it deadly and addicting.
- Avoid Sucralose, Sorbitol, Malitol:
- These are artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols- hard on the stomach and can make you gassy, or give you leaky butt- as in if you toot, you may need to change yer undies!
- Avoid ASPARTAME:
- Found under the names Equal, NutraSweet, Equal, Splenda or Truvia. Use straight Stevia only if you must have a non-sugar sweetener.
- Avoid Acesulfame k, Ace K– Another very bad fake sweetener.
- Avoid Xanthan Gum:
- Processed using petrochemicals. I don’t want to eat petrochemicals. Do you?
- Avoid Phenylalanine or Phenylketonurics:
- These are often found in diet sodas, beverages and sugar free gums, and other sugar free products. They are neurotoxins and they kill brain cells. Phenylalanine in and of itself is an Amino Acid and is beneficial to humans, unless you happen to suffer from the disease PKU. For more info on this, read this article. Here is another great article on the subject of Phenylalanine and Phenylketonurics.
- Avoid BVO: Brominated Vegetable Oil.
- It’s a flame retardant used to increase the weight of the oil in a beverage so it doesn’t rise to the top, and the oil then serves to keep fat-soluble citrus flavors in suspension.
- Avoid Olestra:
- An indigestible fat substitute used primarily in foods that are fried and baked.
- Avoid Benzoate Preservatives:
- Such as: BHT, BHA, TBHQ
Once you have this list of ingredients memorized you can add this to what you already know about the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15, and you can start by choosing 1-3 items on this list that you’re going to work on eliminating from your diet and your home. Once you’ve reached success with those, pick 1 or 2 more items to implement/change and keep going until you’re fully switched over to Real/Whole foods and you’re avoiding as many harmful ingredients as possible.
The Stud Muffin (hubby) and I started by eliminating HFCS from our diets first. That was the very first step that I eliminated. The second step we took was to never buy anything that was No-fat or Low-Fat/Reduced-fat or Sugar-Free. NF/SF (no fat, sugar free). I learned early on from my nutritionist that no/low-fat and sugar free were bad news “foods”. I’ll talk more about those in future articles here on the blog.
If you have any questions, or know of other harmful, or fake, or toxic ingredients that we should be avoiding, feel free to EMAIL ME with the information and I’ll add it to this list.
I wish you nothing but the best of luck on your decision to make serious changes in your diet. Switching over to Real/Whole foods is an exciting decision and you’ll get lots of ideas, support and encouragement from me!
Photo of the Green Apple (edited by Real Food Girl,) found at this blog: Eating Rules.Com
Photo of the man standing at the path from: Impulsa Business Accelerator