Healthy eating has always been something I’ve strived for. I may have a sweet tooth, but for the majority of my eating, I’ve wanted to eat nutritious food.

To some extent, I’ve followed the culture when it comes to “healthy eating.” No fad diets for me, but for many years, I followed the various mainstream ideals of fat-free, low-fat, low-carb, heart-healthy or whatever else was the current trend. I paid attention to the nutrition facts on labels, but not so much to the actual ingredients.

So what changed?

Over the last few years, I started to learn more about food and about the way our body was designed for it, and the way it was designed to nourish us. The more I learned, the more I began seeking out ingredients I could pronounce, or better yet, eating whole foods, rather than packaged ones. I suddenly began to be skeptical of powdered packets of flavoring and meals-in-a-box (we still occasionally eat some of that, but I’m much more aware of the ingredients now).

Photo by ilovebutter

And then I learned that there was actually a movement of eaters that was promoting and enjoying this way of eating. Instead of following the cultural idea of “nutritionism,” and eating processed “food-like substances,” to use Michael Pollan’s terms, eaters were going back to the ways of previous generations for food preparations. The movement has a variety of appellations, but is most commonly referred to as Real Food.

Nina Planck is a pioneer in this food movement; in reading her books I picked up a few simple characteristics to a real food diet.

Real Food is:

  • old and traditional
  • whole, complete and intact
  • diverse (as opposed to processed American foods which can primarily be traced to four major crops: corn, rice, soy and wheat)

Eating traditionally also entails eating more locally and seasonally. More great information about the movement and what it entails can be found at the Real Food Challenge, a student-based campaign and network. Another coalition of eaters concerned about the quality of the food we eat is the Slow Food organization.

I could go on and on here about the enlightening things I’ve learned, but one of the biggest things that I’ve personally taken away from my own bit of research is that fat is not our mortal enemy, like the media, and often the government, makes it out to be. I’ve switched my whole family back to whole milk, after learning that among other things, the milkfat helps the body absorb the calcium. My views of pasturization have also changed, as I’ve begun to question the cultural norm. And I’ve learned the value of grass-fed animals and their effect on the animal products we consume.

I have a lot more to learn and implement for our family, but knowledge alone has changed the way I shop, prepare and consume my food. It’s amazing how much more nourishing food can be when we leave it alone and eat it as is, instead of processing the nutritional value right out of it, and then “fortifying” with nutrition.

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Many wonderful books and cookbooks have been written to encourage a real, traditional, nourishing diet. Some authors who have inspired me are Michael Pollan, Joan Gussow, Barbara Kingsolver, Sally Fallon, Alice Waters, and Nina Planck, whose book Real Food: What to Eat and Why

is a great starting point for learning more. I also recommend the movies Food, Inc. and Fresh for great visual learning aids.

We are also lucky to have a slew of knowledgable researchers and cooks in the blogosphere, many of whom are contributors here on Simple Organic and on other Simple Living Media blogs.

Are you a follower of the Real Food movement? What/who has inspired you in your food journey? What would you like to learn more about?