The Health Benefits of Eating Real Food

Posted on February 27, 2014 by Melissa Winn | 0 Comments

By Adrienne Santos-Longhurst from Healthline

If the old saying “you are what you eat” is true then a lot of us are in trouble because the typical American diet has become one that’s full of processed and fast foods that are high in fat, sugar, sodium, and chemicals. This explains much of the obesity epidemic and plays a major role in the alarming rise of cases of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. It also shows that we need to get back to eating real food now more than ever.

The benefits of eating real food are endless and especially apparent when you consider what goes into prepackaged foods. Here is a rundown of some of the benefits of eating real food along with some interesting (and scary!) facts about processed foods.

You know exactly what you’re putting into Your Body

Eating real food that you make yourself allows you to control the amount of additives like sugar and salt that goes into your food. In Get the Facts: Sodium’s Role in Processed Food put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s reported that over 75 percent of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed and restaurant foods. Over 75 percent! Sodium is known to increase blood pressure which in turn can lead to heart disease and stroke making this statistic especially alarming.

Then there’s the hidden sugar in processed foods, including a lot of the foods that we think to be healthy like granola and fiber bars, yogurt, dried fruit, and more. Did you know that a 1.5 ounce box of dried raisons—yes, the same kind you threw into your kid’s lunch bag this morning or reach for when you want a “healthy snack”—can contain as many as 30 grams of sugar? We know that sugar makes us fat, but more and more information is coming out on the dangers of refined sugars and their link to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and inflammation which are linked to cancer, arthritis and more.

Along with sugar and salt there are the other dangerous additives that you get to avoid when you opt for real food. Chemicals that help to preserve packaged food and those used to add color are also shown to be bad for us. As a matter of the Center for Science in the Public Interest has referred to artificial food dyes as “a rainbow of risks” in their publication of the same name.

You Get to Keep All the Good Stuff

Even though you do lose a small amount of nutrients when you cook certain foods, for the most part eating real food lets you get the nutritional benefits from what you eat. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and all of the other good stuff that keeps your immune system healthy and helps you feel and look your best stays intact when you eat real food so you’re not just satisfied (unlike when you eat empty calories in junk food) but you’re also healthier overall.

Fiber really is Fiber When You Eat Real Food

You know the products that you see at the grocery store with a big bright label on the package practically singing out about all of the added fiber they contain? There’s a good chance that the fiber they speak of isn’t what you’re thinking. Getting more fiber is something that we want which is precisely why more and more companies are trying to reel us in with the promise of more fiber. What they don’t tell you is that these isolated fibers don’t come close to providing us with the amount that we need. And that even in packaged foods containing whole grains, a lot of the nutrients and most of the fiber has been removed during processing with some being artificially put back in! Don’t settle for some added isolated fiber when eating real food gives you the health benefits you’re after. Get your fiber from whole grains, beans, and nuts, as well as fruits and vegetables and enjoy benefits like lower cholesterol and better bowel health and blood sugar levels.

As you can see, the benefits of eating real food go way beyond just your physical health—they help your peace of mind too by giving you the comfort of knowing that you’re not filling your body or that of your family with an endless list of ingredients that are full of health risks.

For more information on nutrition and its effects on your health, click here.

Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and fitness for more than a decade. When she's not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking about her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand up paddle board.

References

Posted in 100 Days of Real Food, Commentary, Guest Post, Healthline, Real Food

Real Food in the Lunch Box by Healthline

Posted on February 23, 2014 by Amanda Holliday | 0 Comments

 

This post comes to you from Healthline and is written by Adrienne Santos-Longhurst. Healthline's mission is to improve health through information. Healthline provides objective, trustworthy, and accurate health information, guided by the principles of responsible journalism and publishing. Enjoy this article on real food lunches. 

Knowing what to pack in your child’s lunch box isn’t always easy. From trying to balance between food that’s healthy and food that they’ll actually want to eat can be a downright pain! This can especially hard when it comes to sticking to lunches made up of real food and not just reaching for some of the quick fixes at the grocery store.

Why It’s Worth the Effort

Obviously, your child is always worth the effort, but it’s perfectly okay to admit that sometimes a hectic schedule makes it hard to prepare real foods for their lunches five times a week. Before you give into your crazy schedule or your child’s pleading for cheese and cracker snack packs like “all the other kids get,” think about these facts:

-According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 in every 3 children in America is overweight or obese.

-Contrary to popular belief, fast food isn’t the main cause of child obesity, according to a recent study. Turns out that the bigger issue is what their parents and caregivers are feeding them, which often includes very little fruits and veggies and loads of processed foods and sugar-filled beverages.

-Obese kids have a higher risk of several health issues such as bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and heart disease. They also have a higher risk of psychological problems like low self-esteem.

-A National Institutes of Health (NIH) panel concluded long ago that food additives and certain foods affect some children with behavioral issues, including ADHD.

Real Food Lunches They’ll Love

It won’t be easy to get your child to eat a lunch box full of whole grains, fruits, and veggies when little Suzy is sitting on one side with her cupcake treat and little Jared on the other eating a pizza pocket. The key to making it work is to create healthy alternatives that taste great and, since kids are visual creatures; look good too.

Since sandwiches are a lunch box staple, be sure to include them even if only a couple times a week. Make your own bread, or buy whole grain breads that list grains as the first ingredient on the label. Pack them with protein-filled natural nut butters and sweeten them up with slices of banana. Honey is also a nice alternative to highly processed jams and spreads. If getting them to eat sandwiches takes a little more coaxing, then add some whimsy by cutting the bread into a fun shape. It’s all in the details with some kids!

Fruits and vegetables can be approached much the same way, by cutting and arranging them into fun shapes. It may seem a little frivolous, but investing a few bucks into spiral slicer or taking a few extra minutes to spiral cucumbers and other veggies can make all the difference in the world! Baking veggies into “chips” is also a sure-fire way to get a child to eat their veggies without any moaning.

And, give them the special fast food treats they want without all the fat and additives. Ground turkey and chicken made into patties and placed in a whole grain bun is a great alternative to the traditional hamburger and making your own whole grain pizza dough and letting them add their own healthy toppings is a fun way to give them a healthy version of a classic kid favorite.

Other kid-friendly real food ideas are:

homemade muffins
homemade granola bars
oatmeal animal crackers
fruit smoothies
sweet potato fries (baked, of course!)

First Impressions Matter to Kids

The way you pack their lunch is also important. It may seem silly since most of us could care less what our lunch is packaged in when break time rolls around and we’re hungry. To a kid, the way the food is packaged matters, especially when they’re surrounded by other kids drinking out of bottles with straws and slurping snacks out of squishy tubes and containers! Look for cool containers to make the “real food” look like “fun kid food”. Snack trays with different compartments like bento boxes are great, as are bright bottles, and yes, the Little Green Pouch too. Its kid and slurp-friendly design is ingenious, along with being reusable and compact, of course. Basically, when it comes to packing a lunch that appeals to kids: If you can rearrange it, squish it, or slurp it; they’ll love it!

Getting your kids to eat real food at school doesn’t have to be a struggle. Put your kid cap on and think like your 6-year-old self when planning and preparing their lunches and snacks. And, don’t forget to ask for their input and include them in the process. You’d be surprised at how excited they get about lunch when they have some say.

Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and fitness for more than a decade. When she's not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking about her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand up paddle board.

References

  • Childhood Obesity Facts. (2013). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on February 13, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm
  • A Parent’s Guide to Diet and ADHD. Center for Science in the Public Interest. Retrieved on February 13, 2014, fromhttp://www.cspinet.org/new/adhd_bklt.pdf
  • Poti, J M, Duffey, K J, Popkin, B M. (2013). The association of fast food consumption with poor dietary outcomes and obesity among children: is it the fast food or the remainder of the diet. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013; 99 (1): 162. Retrieved on February 13, 2014, from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/99/1/162

Posted in 100 Days of Real Food, Guest Post, Healthline, Real Food, real food lunchbox, Recipes

 

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