This is our third guest post in our 2020 Reader Advice & Tips series where we invited our readers to submit their best advice on how to cut out processed food. Those who were chosen to be featured are receiving a signed copy of one of my cookbooks (their choice)! A big thank you to everyone who turned in a submission. We loved getting to know you!
My real food journey began many years ago when chef and cookbook author Jamie Oliver opened my eyes to the ingredients of a typical chicken nugget. He had a show where he went into schools in Huntington, West Virginia and educated kids about what was in their favorite fast-food fare. Seeing the globs of meat and fat and bones and everything else was disgusting, and I vowed I would never feed my future children such unhealthy foods.
I now have two kids, and while I have indeed served them those nefarious nuggets (impassioned young adult vow, meet reality of actual parenthood), most of their meals are made from scratch, and I feel good about what’s going into their bodies. Candy has a limited place in our household and snacks are mostly made of real food ingredients.
Real Food guru Michael Pollan says, “Cooking from scratch is the single most important thing we can do as a family to improve our health and general well being.” Fortunately, I enjoy cooking. I find making pasta from scratch to be therapeutic, I love to bake and fill my house with the smells of freshly made chocolate chip cookies, and I get excited about trying new recipes. But not all people find the same satisfaction in the kitchen.
My advice? If you struggle to stand in front of the stove and spend 30 to 45 minutes making a meal for your family, find a way to make it fun. Is there a type of cuisine that your whole family enjoys? Treat yourself to a new cookbook and commit to learning to make favorite dishes at home. Is there a show that you never have time to watch? Indulge while you’re prepping veggies. Like podcasts? Tune in while you’re bustling around preparing dinner. Think about what would make cooking more compelling for you, and then make that happen.
People often balk at the cost of real food. It’s true that, in general, processed food is cheaper than real food. But one of the best things I’ve read to that end is that it’s better to pay the farmer a little bit more now than pay the doctor a lot more later. Real foods keep us healthy and performing at our best. Whatever small steps you can take to progress in your journey toward prioritizing real foods will be worth it.
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