Thursday, May 16, 2013

Nourishing Bytes: 10 Days of Real Food--"Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Instead of the normal May blogging challenge post, I decided to deviate and attempt to get some folks to join our family in a new challenge.  On June 3, our family will embark on a new journey.  We have decided to take a "10 days of real food" pledge.

photo from Lisa Leake's 100 Days of Real Food Blog

Those of you who have been reading this blog for quite some time know that we are very interested in healthful eating.  We thought we ate pretty healthfully prior to cancer.  Once cancer struck, I began doing a lot of research into optimal diets.  What I discovered is that the best thing I can do for my body is to nourish it with stuff that comes directly from nature.  I decided I wanted to minimally ingest processed foods (especially processed and refined sugars), fruits and veggies that were not treated with pesticides, genetically modified foods and meats from animals that were not allowed to roam freely or were injected with hormones.  This is clearly not easy in today's American culture.  But, that is our goal and I believe very strongly in this. We have been making changes in our diets regularly since October 2012.  

A new neighbor friend and I were recently discussing this.  She introduced me to a blog titled, "100 days of Real Food."  This blog is awesome. I have probably spent WAY too much time on it.  But, after digging into it, I have found that this woman and her family are eating exactly how I desire our family to eat.  The blogger, Lisa Leake created the blog shortly after reading Michael Pollen's book, "In Defense of Food".   Prior to reading his book, she had never read an ingredient label or purposefully bought anything organic.   Lisa says on her blog, "As it turned out, a lot of what we thought were “healthy” food choices were actually just highly processed and what the food industry was labeling as “healthy.”"  So, she decided to take her family through the 100 days of real food challenge and blog about it along the way.   (100 days in length because that is how long it usually takes to build habits).  She even did it on a budget, for less money than a family would have on full food stamp benefits.

I love Pollan's simple rules for eating:  "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."  Of course, "food" is what Pollan defines in his book.   You see, the "food"we eat today is dramatically different than what our ancestors ate for thousands of years.  Lisa says,

Our so-called “Western diet” of processed foods only began around the turn of the last century and also taught us that we should be more concerned about calories, nutrients, fat grams, and vitamins rather than just eating the whole foods given to us by nature that people have survived on since the dawn of agriculture.

Since this new way of eating was introduced there has been a simultaneous rise in chronic diseases (even after adjusting for age since we are living longer thanks to modern medicine). Coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer – 4 out of the top ten chronic diseases that kill most of us – “can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food” that Michael Pollan defines as:
•    The rise of highly processed foods and refined grains
•    The use of chemicals to raise plants and animals (i.e. anything not organic)
•    The superabundance of cheap calories of sugar and fat
•    The narrowing of the biological diversity of the human diet to a tiny handful of staple crops, notably wheat, corn and soy (the majority of processed foods are laced with at least one these crops in one form or another) 

This, in summary, gives “us the Western diet that we take for granted: lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of everything – except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains” according to Pollan. And it is making a lot of Americans sick and fat.

There really is so much good information on her blog.  I would recommend you to check it out (simply click here to do so). 

We are going to be taking the 10 days pledge beginning on Monday, June 3.  Then, we will hopefully begin the 100 day pledge later.  From the blog:

Benefits of Taking the 10-Day Pledge

Upon completing your goal we predict you will gain the following:
  • A first-hand, eye opening experience of how to identify the real food in our processed food world.
  • At least one improved health benefit such as having more energy, losing weight, improving regularity, or just feeling healthier overall.
  • The realization that some of those pre-packaged processed “food-like substances” don’t even taste that good compared to real food.
  • The opportunity to teach your children (if you have them), by example, the healthiest way to eat and enjoy the food mother nature has given us.
  • A congratulatory letter and complimentary gifta silicone wristband debossed with “10 Days of Real Food” which you can wear to make sure all of your friends know what you accomplished!
  • The ability to continue on with your life however you chose, but with the new knowledge of how and why to avoid processed foods. Hopefully your 10-day experience will convince you to consider making at least a few changes for life.
After all of that, who wants to do the 10 day challenge with our family?   Perhaps it will encourage you to know that Lisa's blog provides some great sample meal plans.  She really does try to make it as easy as possible.  Simply click here to sign up and join us on June 3.  I will likely be blogging about our experience and would like to hear from you as well!  Here are the real food rules for eating during the challenge (from her site):

What you CAN eat:

  1. Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry
  2. Lots of fruits and vegetables (we recommend that you shop for these at your local farmers’ market)
  3. Dairy products like milk, unsweetened yogurt, eggs, and cheese
  4. 100% whole-wheat and whole-grains (find a local bakery for approved sandwich bread and check the Understanding Grains post for more info)
  5. Seafood (wild caught is the optimal choice over farm-raised)
  6. Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (preferably in moderation)
  7. Beverages limited to water, milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetened coffee and tea, and wine and beer.
  8. Snacks like dried fruit, seeds, nuts and popcorn
  9. All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and fruit juice concentrates are acceptable in moderation
  10. Also check out the Recipes and Resources page for a more detailed list of meal options including links to recipes

What you CANNOT eat:

  1. No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat…not just “wheat”)
  2. No refined sweeteners such as sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or the artificial stuff like Splenda
  3. Nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label
  4. No deep fried foods
  5. No “fast foods”
 Simply comment below or shoot me an email if you'd like to join along with us. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Heather, I enjoy reading your blog and following your progress. My husband is still struggling with his recovery but is making small gains.

    Thanks for the post about the 100 Days of Real Food blog - it looks great! I have also read all of Michael Pollen's food related books. I really liked In Defense of Food - it is probably time to read it again. I generally eat pretty "clean" and try to follow the Perfect Health Diet (I like that it allows rice). Although I do still have the occasional wheat products - whole wheat sandwich wraps now and then and I haven't been able to give up my Cracked Black Pepper Triscuits! I guess if that is my biggest vice it isn't too bad!

    I'm looking forward to getting some whole chickens from the local farm stand. We are already fans of there humane, pasture raised beef! Good luck with your challenge - I may just join you!