In the Beginning: Learning about Real Food

I am going to begin by saying that this has been a slow and steady learning curve for our family.  We have worked hard to get rid of the chemicals in our home, with the cleaners we use, the laundry detergents, and personal hygiene products.  As we started to become more aware of the chemicals we were putting on our skin, I started to research what we were ingesting through our food as well.

We have come a long way in how we view food, but also know we have a long way to go yet.  I have bought into many different diets, meal plans, tools to help me meet my goals, only to fall off the bandwagon long before I see any results.  Needless to say our real food journey has been just that, a journey.  It has been a process of learning that “light” doesn’t mean healthy, what real food is and how to read labels.

I was the mom who bought skim milk, light dairy products, whole wheat crackers and vitamin enriched cereal thinking that I was helping my kids eat healthy.  What I didn’t know was that as soon as food is processed, the nutrients and vitamins that were once in food are stripped away.  Not to mention the dangerous addition of sugar, dyes and flavouring.  If we are eating real, whole food, we don’t need to be buying “enriched food” because all the nutrients we need should naturally be found in our diet.

Let’s talk about dairy products for a moment.  I was stuck because I didn’t want the extra calories of the full fat milk, but I was learning that the overly processed skim milk may not be as healthy for our bodies.  When the fat is removed from the milk it is believed that your gut is not able to as easily digest the fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin D, A and E.  Full fat milk is also lower in lactose because it does not have the milk solids that skim will have.  So when we switched to full fat dairy products, I began to notice that our daughter who had suffered from eczema, began to show even fewer symptoms. Was it possible that some of her skin irritations were due to a lactose sensitivity?  If you are looking for weight control, it is still suggested to go with skim milk, because of it’s higher protein and fewer calories.  But for my kids, neither of which were a concern, we opted to make the switch to full fat milk, cheeses and yogurt.

I grabbed my cookbooks and started to meal prep one day.  So many of my recipes called for a can of mushroom soup for this,  or a package of onion soup mix in that.  Something didn’t sit right with me.  I couldn’t even pronounce most of the ingredients on the ingredient list, and the list was long.  What I was learning, was that ingredients that said “modified” meant that a food was heavily processed and changed from its natural state.  Items like MSG, didn’t have to be called MSG.  It hides in the ingredient called “flavouring.”

It was like an epiphany! I opened my pantry and started reading labels.  Most packages, contained “modified” ingredients, “enriched wheat flour”  dyes and colours,and were “vitamin enriched.”  Without further adieu I began to box up all the food that I no longer wanted to feed my family.  I began to question what our body would do with ingredients that weren’t real and wholesome?

Let me stop here and say, our family still eats out. My kids on occasion like to try the microwavable meals and cook up a box of KD.  But guess what? They often comment after eating highly processed food how much more they enjoy real food.  They are also recognizing that whole food is far more satisfying.  They don’t get hungry as often eating a whole food, balanced diet and they need less food to fill them up.

In my quest to find new recipes that were quick and simple to prepare I landed on this, 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love. I have really enjoyed reading about this family’s commitment to change their eating habits and the simple, uncomplicated fashion that she presents her research.

I was finding that I was overcomplicating my time spent in the kitchen.  I believed that healthy recipes had many steps, odd ingredients I wouldn’t typically purchase, and were often quite pricey to create.  As my research continued I realized that I most certainly did not have to cook this way for our family to be eating real, wholesome food.  Somewhere through my parenting journey, I had forgotten that.

Jen Hatmaker in her book 7, says, “Maybe food simplification is a good idea for all of us, and for more than one reason.  Spiritual clarity, and health come to mind.  Waste reduction and time management and financial responsibility and gratefulness deserve some line space too, There are other things, but that’s a decent start list.”

Stay tuned  this week, as I highlight some simple habits to help you in the kitchen and share some goals we have set for the new year, including a sugar and processed food fast.

I have included links to the two books that I referenced in this article. They are affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if purchased through these links.

100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love

7     (Jen Hatmaker’s book that I will be touching on, as we go through our fast)



  1. Dora Waldner | 9th Jan 17

    I’m looking forward to reading more about your journey……I would love to learn how to read labels. Can’t seem to find a good website to help me understand it. We too are on a journey to having wholesome foods in the house. Less processed and more healing.

    • Melissa | 9th Jan 17

      I’m glad you are going to follow along, Dora. It is a slow commitment to change for sure. I am a big fan of “100 Days of Real Food” because her approach is really so simple. If ingredient lists are longer than 5 items, it doesn’t go in the shopping cart. Anything that has sugar, is a no go. Same with enriched flour, corn syrup, food colouring and flavouring. Welcome here 🙂

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