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The Basics

What does “Eating Real” even mean?

The Question

Asking this question can lead to a variety of answers.  For many people the act of eating is a string of mindless habits developed to satisfy hunger and cravings.  For a growing number of us, however, choosing what foods to put in our bodies is an expression of our philosophical, ethical, and spiritual beliefs.

I myself have stumbled through this journey looking for what eating real means to me.  I have embarked on many diets with familiar names.  Some started as lifestyle choices, some as an attempt to lose unwanted pounds.  All of them started with successes in feeling better and trimming down.   All ended in my own inability to stick to an eating regimen for an extended period of time.

Many, like me, who have tried to research what it means to eat real have been left with their heads swimming and filled with these lists of “dos and don’ts”.  Following a diet or regimen of someone else’s creation may get you to a short term goal – feeling healthier, losing weight – but making informed choices all the time is what changes eating habits from a diet to a lifestyle.

What we really need is something we can believe in on a core level and therefore stick to for life.  We need to change what eating means to us on a fundamental level.

The Answer

One of my favorite quotes growing up was a public service announcement at the end of every G.I. Joe cartoon.  “And now you know… and knowing is half the battle,” resonated with me.  I must have repeated that quote a couple hundred times over the years, making it engrained in my thoughts.  This is the approach I have taken to eating real.  There is a lot of information out there on food, ingredients, food sources, etc.  Some of it is helpful, some misguided, and some flat out wrong.  My goal became to filter through this information, research what I could, and make informed choices.  I wanted to know the chemistry and history of as much of what goes into my body as possible.  After all, we are what we eat!

What I found startled me on a few levels.  The main one being the realization I had no idea what was going on in our food chain.  I read a few books, watched a few movies, surfed a few websites, and became aware of my own ignorance and apathy towards the origins and makeup of my food.  This was the stuff I was building my brain, blood, muscle cells from and I had no idea what was even really in it!  This led me to more questions.  What is hydrolyzed soy protein?  What is caramel coloring and why does my food need it?  What are “natural flavors” and if they are so natural why aren’t they listed in the ingredients?  Answering all of these questions became a daunting task which led me to the simple answer I was looking for:

IF YOU DON’T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT IT IS, DON’T EAT IT!

This was the lifestyle change I needed.  It allowed me to eat whatever I want, so long as the food was simple enough for me to understand and agree with what was in it and how and where it was made.  I do find the more unprocessed a food is, the simpler it is to understand, and the more likely it is to be what I consider real.

This higher knowledge of our food contents allows us to manage our overall eating lifestyle.  Knowing the amount of calories in our foods allows us to make “calorie in vs. calorie out” decisions to keep our weight and health in check.  Knowing how far a food has travelled to get to our tables allows us to make decisions on the size of our own carbon footprint.  Knowing what animal products are in a food allows us to make decisions based on our beliefs of the humane treatment of animals and whether or not they should be a food source to begin with.  Knowing really is half the battle.

The Website

Imagine my delight when I realized others in my extended family are somewhere along this same journey of learning what eating real means to them.  That is when this website came about.  Why not learn together and share our thoughts with one another in a public forum where others might take this journey with us?  We will surely find differences in our definitions of eating real based on our philosophical, ethical, and spiritual definitions.  But why not open this discussion with one another and make a community of the common ground we find?

So, for those of you who have found your way here by whatever means, welcome to our extended family at eatingreal.com.  We look forward to hearing your thoughts as we all journey to find what eating real means to us.

 

Renee, Eating Real

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