When it comes to healing your body and reversing inflammation or metabolic dysfunction that is preventing you from losing weight, only one thing matters: Eat real food.
There are millions of diets out there. And experts, friends, family members, Instagram fitness bloggers… they can be very convincing that “their diet is the best way to heal your body.”
As someone who has healed hypothyroidism, severe acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), optic neuritis, interstitial cystitis, chronic back pain, gastroparesis, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and more illnesses I was told were incurable than I can remember over the past 20 years, I want to tell you that above all other things, one thing matters most: the quality of the food, water, air, and body care you are consuming.
Stress also plays an enormous roll in healing but for this article, I want to empower you to be your own healer by educating you on one thing: what is real food.
What isn’t “Real Food?”
Due to powerful food lobbies in this country, it can be hard to know what food is real food is from the food labels. “Natural,” “organic,” “sugar-free,” “trans fat-free…” Food makers are often legally lying to you when they write these on the labels. Real food doesn’t come with a health label.
Here I have copied exactly what is written about claiming transfat on US nutrition labels from the FDA Labeling & Nutrition website:
If a serving contains less than 0.5 gram, the content, when declared, must be expressed as “0 g.”
Did you catch that? It MUST be expressed as 0 grams of trans fat if it is less than 0.5 grams per serving. So it isn’t that there are no transfats in the product. In fact, there are trans fats in many products but due to their portion size, the amount is below 0.5 grams.
That’s just for trans fats. There are loopholes in food labeling for everything.
So let me make this really easy for you: real food doesn’t come with a health label.
When’s the last time you saw an avocado in a box or package making a health claim?
What is “real food?”
Real food is found around the exterior of the grocery store. You’ll find it in the fresh produce section and the fresh meats section. Grocery stores keep perishable items in the center of the store on shelves with the fresh necessities on the perimeter of the store. So a simple trick to start is just keeping your shopping to the perimeter of the store and staying away from the isles in the middle.
So a simple trick to start is just keeping your shopping to the perimeter of the store and staying away from the isles in the middle.
But once you are around the perimeter of the grocery store, what exactly are you looking for?
What does “real food” mean?
Real food means food free of:
- pesticides and chemicals that create cellular inflammation in humans.
- antibiotics that damage our gut and kill our healthy gut flora.
- hormones that disrupt our own hormones and lead to hormone imbalance and it’s resulting issues such as thyroid issues, mood swings, metabolic and cognitive dysfunction.
Those things sound super intense and they are. How the heck does one pick out produce, protein, and other products free of stuff that causes all those problems if we can’t trust the nutrition labels?
How to Find and Buy Real Food
1. Don’t stress about it.
Stress causes enough problems by raising our cortisol levels, and causing us to crave simple carbohydrates (sugar!), and imbalancing our hormones. So first things first: just pick ONE TYPE OF FOOD to practice improving your purchases of over the next two weeks. It takes time to learn how to find safer food.
It takes time to learn how to find safer food. So give yourself space and just commit to improving one kind of food item at a time. For example, you could focus on learning what “clean beef” is and finding the most affordable place to get it in your area.
I assure you, that is enough! Try finding one new safer item every two weeks.
2. Buy animal proteins that are pasture-raised, grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free.
If you are going to change one thing only in your diet, make it safer animal proteins. The hormones and antibiotics given to conventionally raised animals disrupt human hormone balance, thyroid function, and gut health. Don’t believe the latest commercials say conventional meats have been “cleared of antibiotics and hormones before being sold.” They are lying. And there is no such thing as being able to “clear the meat” of something it consumed while it was alive. What the animal ate is what makes up the tissue you are about to it.
And there is no such thing as being able to “clear the meat” of something it consumed while it was alive. What the animal ate is what makes up the tissue you are about to it. Their companies are feeding you bullshit.
Why am I so adamant about eating clean animal proteins?
Because changing the quality of the animal proteins I ate was the single most important factor in helping me:
- improve and reduce my symptoms of PMS.
- eradicate the depression and anxiety I experienced for years, thinking there was something wrong with me.
- reverse and completely heal the hypothyroidism that caused me to lose a third of my hair.
- reduce the inflammation that was preventing me from losing weight despite “eating right and exercising.”
The quality of the proteins you eat matters significantly. I highly recommend this be your first change.
The Environmental Working Group has LOADS of excellent resources to help you make safer buying decisions about proteins, produce, air, water and beauty products. For each of these items, I will link to a helpful page on the EWG for you.
From the EWG:
3. Buy organic produce whenever possible.
For the same reasons you are learning about above with animal proteins, it is equally important for your cells if you are eating produce that is free of hormones, metabolism, and cell-disrupting toxins.
But there is a LOT of produce out there and buying all organics can be cost prohibitive for some. So how do you navigate it?
The EWG helped us out here again, too.
The EWG tested produce in the US and found which food items absorbed the toxins into the parts you eat (meaning you will eat the pesticides and they will go into your cells) and which foods don’t absorb the pesticides and toxins.
The Clean 15
The Clean 15 is a list of the 15 conventional produce items that do not absorb most pesticides sprayed on them. That means you can buy the conventional versions of these foods and stay pretty safe. The Clean 15 are:
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Honeydew Melon
The Dirty Dozen
The Dirty Dozen, however, are the conventional food items where pesticides are sprayed directly on the parts we eat. These pesticides permeate the cell body of the plant and cannot be washed off. Which means that we eat the pesticides and they become part of our cells creating inflammation and other problems. The Dirty Dozen are:
- Sweet bell peppers
- and hot peppers. (They added this as a bonus. haha)
If you make sure to buy The Dirty Dozen as organics, you will usually be fine buying most other things as conventional. You could begin noticing a huge difference in your weight, health, and energy just by making just the switch to clean meats and the organic versions of The Dirty Dozen.
Don’t buy packaged food.
You saw the legislation I showed you at the top of this article. If it comes in a package, it’s better not to buy it. There are so many over 10,000 chemicals in our food that have never been tested for human health and safety with hundreds more coming on the market every year.
By avoiding packaged foods and opting for real foods 99% of the time, you could begin to see a huge change in your weight and health.