Yesterday I talked about why I am passionate about eating real food, but today I’m going to talk about some of the physical and mental adjustments that need to be made in order to be successful in this lifestyle.
One of the hardest adjustments for me was going grocery shopping at least once a week. I know many people who try to go once every couple of weeks or even once a month, which was what I was accustomed to growing up. But that just won’t work when you are buying fresh foods. I used to HATE grocery shopping. I would lay on the living room floor and cry because I didn’t want to go (I should probably clarify that I was an angsty teenager at the time, doing the family shopping for my then-single dad. Sorry ‘bout my bad attitude, pops). But now grocery shopping is actually one of my favorite parts of the week, and I hope that you will feel the same after I give you some helpful tips.
You also may have to make more than one stop on your weekly shopping trips. This may not be the case for everyone, depending on where you live and what your budget is, but we have found that the only way for it to work for us is to shop at multiple stores. We buy our meat from the local natural market, but cannot afford much else that they offer, so we buy certain items at Costco (who is now the leading retailer of Organic foods!), and the rest at our chain grocery store. I’m also getting used to buying items directly from local farmers, which I highly recommend as a first choice, when available! It took me awhile to figure out where I could find the best value for my dollar, but now that I know, I have a routine and it goes rather quickly!
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is all about convenience, including fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and pre-packaged items to eat on the go. The real food lifestyle requires more planning and preparation. There have been many times (especially early on) that my husband and I have looked at each other and said, “Why can’t we just eat the junk food?” But we decided that choosing health over convenience was important enough for us to put it in our family mission statement! This simply means we plan ahead. That looks different depending on the situation, but more often than not, it means carrying a banana or other piece of fruit in my purse, in case I find myself out for longer than expected and the hanger starts to take over. When I was working full time it looked like packing enough snacks to get me through the WHOLE day, so I wouldn’t raid my co-workers secret candy stashes after lunchtime. Planning ahead also looks like knowing what you’re going to eat for the week and prepping foods in advance, where necessary. We’ll talk more about meal planning next week. Once you get in the habit of planning ahead, you really forget what it was like to depend on the SAD alternatives.
Just because real food isn’t served at the local fast food joint, convenience store, or available in ready to buy packages doesn’t automatically make it inconvenient. Here’s my secret: Eat leftovers! I read a comment on a blog the other day that said “how do you scale down this recipe? My fiancé won’t eat leftovers so I only need enough for the two of us.” And I thought “are you sure you want to marry that man? He sounds really high maintenance.” Leftovers are my FAVORITE meal because they are quick and easy and sometimes the food even tastes better after the flavors have mingled together. If you’re like that high maintenance guy, you’re just going to have to get over it. Batch cooking is another way to cut down on the amount of time you need to spend in the kitchen, and we’ll cover that later in the month.
If I had a quarter for every time I heard someone complain about how expensive real food is….well, I could buy myself a really nice, grass fed steak! I prefer to look at it as getting the most nutritional bang for my buck. Of course you won’t be able to eat fresh, nutritious food for the same price as the 10 cent manufactured pack of Ramen…but that Ramen is doing more damage than help, and in some cases may even stimulate hunger. I think it’s worth it to pay a little more for high quality foods, and as you get used to the real food lifestyle, you may find that you are willing to devote even more of your budget to food–we sure did! It is especially do-able when you see the cost of medicines and doctor bills decreasing. But don’t worry, I have a whole post dedicated to eating real food on a budget.
I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is that this is a big lifestyle change and it won’t happen overnight. I am slowly adding skills to my real food resume, and I’m nearly two years into my journey. Some people do better by jumping in with both feet, while others need to take it one step at a time. Do what works for you, and focus on what you can do today instead of being overwhelmed by all the things you feel you need to master.
What is your biggest obstacle (mental or physical) in switching from SAD to Real Food?
Important disclaimer: I have no medical training. Just lots of passion for real food! Please consult your own doctor and do your own research in support of my suggestions. It’s an important part of taking control of your health!
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