Whole milk or skim milk? Almond milk or soy milk? Whole grain or no grain? Meat-heavy or meat-free? And perhaps the most highly debated question: eat butter, or don’t eat butter?
There are so many incongruences when it comes to nutrition and health, so many experts and so-called-experts, all of which have varying opinions on what is the healthiest for us and our families. Even the science can be contradictory, you can find a study to prove or disprove anything you’d like. It can be confusing, to say the least.
So how do we determine the right way to feed our family, the right way to feed ourselves? As mamas, we feel it’s our duty to do the research and serve our families the best possible foods, but how do we determine what foods make the grocery list? How do we determine what gets served at Sunday dinner? Do we close our eyes, spin around and pick an expert? How do we avoid the diet dogma and figure out how to really, truly nourish our families, from the inside out?
I have a simple solution, three little words- that just might blow your cute J. Crew scarf off: eat real food.
That’s right. All you need to know to nourish your family comes down to eating REAL FOOD.
Real food is the food your great-great-grandma ate. The food that humans ate, before the factories and packages, food that doesn’t come from a bag or a box, but comes from the earth—or ate food from the earth. Food closest to the form it's found in nature. Pure foods. Ingredients, not ingredient lists.
Real food is veggies and fruit-- as many as your heart desires. Natural meat, fish and poultry, starches and whole grains, beans and legumes, healthy fats, natural sweeteners. Sea salt or himalayan pink salt and health-boosting herbs and spices.
Yes, we can go into details about HOW to feed real foods to our families—if we choose to eat plant-based, or go paleo, if your family has food allergies or you just plain hate broccoli- those choices are up to YOU and your family to make. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to nutrition—and don’t let anyone tell you there are. Yes, there are good, better, best foods. Yes, I have recommendations on healthy fats, sweeteners, supplements and more-- but the foods you choose, the meals you make, those are up to you. What it boils down to, is choosing REAL foods, whole foods, as much as possible, and letting the go the rest of the time. Fill your plates with real foods, and the rest easy, mama.
That’s not to say you should never eat food out of a bag or a box—watch me teach a Stroller Stride's class as my kid chomps on veggie chips and animal crackers. I can down a bag of kale chips in five minutes flat. We’re not purists, and you don’t have to be either. But the packaged foods we do choose, are carefully selected to simply be the best choice we can make, in whatever the situation may be. It’s not about being militant, it’s about making the best choices, whenever you can. Just by simply choosing real foods, you are giving your family, and yourself- the best gift you can give—the gift of health.
And for the record: it’s eat butter.
This post first appeared on the Fit4Mom Newport Blog.