Just Eat Real Food?
We've seen it all before - the "Just Eat Real Food" motto or #jerf
Let me say firstly that I have NO problem whatsoever with people just eating real food. That's awesome!
But sometimes, the message can also have its disadvantages and so I think that we need to be more cautious when we boldly exclaim to the masses that they should 'just eat real food'.
1. It can set us up for guilt, shame, and giving up.
Imagine a scenario - you have been working so hard to eat JUST real food for awhile now. Then one night, you're out to dinner and everyone gets a beautiful dessert. You either remember your 'rule' and don't get one which makes you potentially miserable or anxious, or you decide - "screw it" and get the dessert which is often followed by guilt, or worse yet the thought that you've blown your 'real food diet' and so you decide to just give up.
At what point is the JUST EAT REAL FOOD mantra just another diet really?
This is why I have a problem with rules and 'shoulds'. These are black and white thoughts about food (good vs bad) and life is just not black and white. Life is full of colour! Life will throw us the occasional scone or macaroon and we should be able to enjoy this scone knowing that we strive to eat well as often as we can and one scone is not the end of the world. It is not sending some toxic substance into our bloodstream that will take a year off our lives or give us cancer or disease.
It's. one. scone.
The rest of the time, crowd in the delicious colourful bounty that nature has given us. Eat beautiful fresh veggies and meat from happy cows and other animals when you can. Enjoy probiotic-rich foods and colourful fruits. Enjoy those smoothies and bliss balls and fancy AF salads.
There's no one food in isolation that will heal or harm. The poison is in the dose.
2. What one classifies as real food is vague.
There is also so much variation as to what is "real food" amongst the real foodies.
Some will tell you that only Paleo food is real food, others will allow for whole grains and raw milk.
What about something like dark chocolate? Real? Processed? At what point is it 'too processed'? A cream egg? Or dark chocolate? What about if it's dark chocolate by Cadbury? Does it have to be organic to be 'real'?
Or potato chips with sunflower oil and sea salt - is that a real food? What if they are Bluebird brand? Does that make them less 'real'?
How about fresh pasta? Or perhaps you feel quinoa pasta is more 'real' or 'clean' than wheat pasta?
Bread? Only if it isn't in a supermarket! But, what if that supermarket has a bakery? What about Paleo bread? Is that 'real'? Is it less processed? Gluten Free?
Where do you draw the line?
The definition of real food also depends where you are in the world. Imagine telling someone in Italy that pasta isn't real food because it's processed'. Mama mia!
3. It's 'simple' but it's not always easy. Nor, is it always possible.
When people say 'just eat real food' it sounds almost condescending t0 me, whether that's their intention or not. Like 'hey 'just do it' it's easy!
Unfortunately, it's not that simple for everyone. Some people, for example are living off 25.00 a week (or less!) and sometimes, a 5 dollar pizza from dominos is going to do a better job of feeding their family than a head of cauliflower.
We have to be gentler with people. People are doing the best they can under different circumstances. Not all of us are in such a place of privilege that we've been taught how to cook, have access to fresh fruit and veggies at reasonable prices or have the income to shop at farmers markets for 5 dollar bunches of organic carrots.
Nobody should have to feel guilty for their food choices. Full stop.
Instead - why don't we just try to help others to do the best they can with what they have. Love and support each other. Be compassionate, and educate without judgement.
xx You got this!