Real Food for People Who Have Real Lives

Just eat real food.

That’s the latest advice we’re hearing from the “diet of the day” people. If you follow food and fitness trends, all the rage right now are “eating real food” and “high intensity interval training.” So . . . after almost 3 months of holiday/vacation/moving to a new place and trying all the foods eating, I’m not as comfortable in my jeans as I was in November. I’ve still worked out every day, but I’ve eaten more biscuits, desserts, and treats than I normally do. I’ve also eaten out a zillion times. And while my pants still fit, they’re fitting “better” than usual, if you catch my drift.

Focusing on my weight, sometimes obsessively, has gotten old. So I’m going back to basics. I’m just going to eat real food. That means eliminating processed stuff. Guess what’s processed? Flour. Sugar. Oil. Butter. Even produce and lean meat. Canned beans. OHMYGOD what is a girl to do? I am not picking things off a farm and butchering my own meat, which none of us who live actual lives (off a farm) can do, so here are my rules for the next 30 days:

First, go easy on me. Yesterday was our one year wedding anniversary (HOLLA!) and I ate like I was the Queen of Carbs. This morning I tried calculating how many 300+ calorie workouts I could complete in one day . . . and then I talked myself off the ledge. I did one workout (so far). And I’ve eaten like a sane person.

Second, vegan pea protein powder will be allowed on this “eat (almost) only real food” trial. I have a shake for breakfast almost every morning. It’s a habit I’ve gotten into, and the only ingredient in the protein powder is pea protein. Fine. Also, I put stevia in the thing. And cocoa powder. That stuff’s fairly traded, so I’m gonna go with it. Bottom line on this one: I eat a ton of berries & greens every morning, and this shake is how I get them in. I’m not modifying this good habit. That’s just “extra,” and I don’t feel like dealing with one more change. Ima drink my shake in peace.

Third, in the next 30 days I’m not planning any celebrations, but some may come up. I’ll do my best. If there’s chicken on skewers but I don’t know what spices are on them (spices are processed) I’m probably going to pick those over cheese and bread (both heavily processed). So let’s not go insane. This is real food for people who have real lives.

Have you ever noticed how hard it is in our culture to just eat healthily? We’ve got crazy schedules and little time for making our own food. I get it - it can be difficult to go to a work dinner and insist that the kitchen use only steam for your meat and veggies. Blah. That’s why I’m advocating the “do your best” mentality for myself. The stress over cooking methods will be more disruptive than the grilling, so I’m just gonna roll with it all.

Fourth, dark chocolate is allowed on my “real food diet.” I’m not explaining that one. It’s dark chocolate.

Most of my meals will be made at home with fresh ingredients. I am not going to mess with dried beans, so I’ll allow the organic variety in cans. Grinding peanuts or almonds is processing them, but that’s OK. The brand name peanut butter you get off the shelf is loaded with sugar and other oils, so I’ll skip that. Also, bread is amazing and I love it, but I’m not going to eat it. I say that now; wait until the fluffy biscuits show up at Sunday breakfast. Anyway, bread is made from flour…heavily processed. So I’ll just skip it.

Fifth, if I end up eating out, I’ll pick the “most whole food” there is. That likely means choosing fresh produce and beans or lean meat. I’m not avoiding carbs - fruits & veggies are carbs - so I’m totally down with potatoes or rice…unless I’d rather not have them that day. Today, for example, I chose to eat lunch out. It’s a freaking busy day. I opted for gusto! because they serve real food. It’s fresh and it’s tasty. I did my best. I’m not going to demand perfection. No one can sustain that. I had brown rice, greens, veggies, and spicy chicken. Yum. (I did eat an ounce of the sauce, so I guess I’m already messing up my eat real food plan, but whatever. It was 1.5 ounces of sauce. I’m not perfect. Maybe I’ll start being militant tomorrow.)

Sixth, I’ll be grateful to and for my body each day. This lady has carried around my Spirit for decades, so gratitude is the least I can offer to her.

At the end of 30 days, I’ll see if the skin eruptions and gut situations slow down. I’ll see how my pants feel. I’ll see if my sleep has changed at all. And I’ll see what new recipes I’ve learned. I have purple yams for tonight. I’ll let you know what I do with them!

Oh yeah! And cooking with zero fat isn’t my greatest plan, so cold pressed EVOO and butter from grass-fed cows will be allowed. Yes, I know you’re not supposed to cook with EVOO. Whatever. I can’t follow all the rules. ;)

But really, isn’t this how it always goes? I’ve been on the elimination diet that nearly broke me. Oh, the eating part wasn’t bad…it was having to bring my food to every single thing that was a challenge. Work meetings, special events, it seems like everything that came up in those three weeks was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. HA! I followed a vegan diet. I tried the Whole30. You know what happened with all of that? It just made my life harder. It made me more rigid. And it made me follow rules rather than listening to my inner wisdom.

And so…it’s time to just eat real food, do my best, and trust my intuition.

I foolishly had coffee with almond milk earlier; I just wasn’t thinking. It was good. And almond milk is heavily processed. Today instead of feeling like I can’t win with my plan, I’m going to give myself credit for the spinach and berries I had for breakfast; the great workout I had; and the greens, protein, and whole grains I had for lunch. I’ll make something vegan for dinner. And the rest I’ll just let go of … and do my best tomorrow.

That’s what real people who have real lives do…they do their best.

But just know this: I DID skip the sweet potato chips.