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What is Real Food?

By Marcus Santer

Back in November last year I hosted a Facebook Group titled:

No Processed Food November

And it quickly became apparent this was a very optimistic objective.

So the focus was changed to getting as much real food as possible, which then of course raised the question:

“What is real food?”

My rather anti-climactic answer is: There is no definitive answer.

Though having said that here are some popular answers:

Real food is anything not made by man – I came across this view reading about one of my hero’s: Jack Lalanne. He had two rules when it came to food:

  1. If man made it, don’t eat it
  2. If it tastes good, spit it out

Hmm. Personally I think some gently steamed organically grown curly kale tastes like food of the Gods.

Real food is what you can make in your own kitchen – If you look at the ingredients in many foods found in the supermarket, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were made using a chemistry set.

For instance, I can make bread in my kitchen, but not like it is in the store. I’ve no idea what Calcium Propionate is (apparently it inhibits mould growth) – but I just asked Clarabella and she says we don’t have any in the cupboard.

Real food is what your great grandparents ate – In his brilliant book: Food Rules by Michael Pollan, Rule 2 is: Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food. This is a fun question to ask yourself the next time you walk around the supermarket!

Real food is food in its most simple form – So an apple is real, but an apple pie isn’t. And the less ingredients your food has in it the closer it is to it’s original form.

Personally the description of real food I liked the best as a result of my research is this list by Chris Kresser:

Real food is:

Reality Check

I don’t have my own allotment where I grow my own food. I also frequently find myself out on the road, where I’m lucky if I can find anything close to a raw, organic vegetable. And I can’t deny that convenience can be very convenient.

So I’m not perfect when it comes to eating real food, I just do my best.

Because attempting to stick to a real food only diet – come what may – can be a sure way to take your stress levels through the roof. Which quickly undermines any benefits you’ll get from your food.

So do your best.

You know what’s good for you and what isn’t.

But above all I recommend you enjoy your food. Food is a very sociable, it’s fun to share and it’s a great excuse to get your family and friends together for a laugh and a chat.

And remember good social bonds are as valuable to your health and well being as good food.

To discover more about the other elements essential for living and ageing well…

Read my book: ZEN+ The Art and Science of Living Healthier for Longer

Bye for now

Marcus