Eat Real Food

The hardest part about relearning how to eat right was portion sizes. I used to eat Lean Cuisines because the portions were measured for me and it was a finite amount of food–no risk of gorging myself. Every night for dinner I ate a Lean Cuisine/Smart One with a salad. I’d mix things up once in awhile and eat fresh fish with a salad or use my George Foreman Grill to cook chicken but for the most part I ate processed foods because I knew how many calories I was eating.

This worked for me. I learned portion sizes. I learned to STOP EATING when the food was gone. I lost the weight. After keeping the weight off for about a year I starting eating Real Food. I moved in with Michael and no longer ate the Lean Cuisines for dinner. Instead I ate them for lunch at work and then Michael and I ate Real Food for dinner together. We practiced trying new recipes and mastered homemade pizza.

As time went on and the more I read about processed foods, cancer, unhealthy eating, etc the less I wanted to eat food out of a box. This REALLY changed once I started training for big events (like the Portland Century) and I started growing my own vegetable garden.

When I saw the above photo about Real Food on a friend’s Facebook profile I loved it. It’s so simple. It’s how I strive to eat. Less processed food. And less drinking my calories. No sodas–even diet, sweetened iced tea, no juice.

My body just feels better now that I eat Real Food. And I found that I really like cooking.  Another reason I ate so much processed food was because I thought I hated cooking. I didn’t like the work that went into it, nothing ever tasted good. All I needed was some guidance from some good cooks (like my friend Star and Michael) and lots of practice.

So what is real food?

Have you noticed that food in grocery stores are no longer selling “food”? Now they sell buzzwords.

  • Enriched
  • Organic
  • Fortified
  • Super Food
  • Whole Grains
  • Light or Sugar Free
  • Vegan  (Michael recently bought some flip flops and they came with a sticker on it that said “Vegan.” Really? His sandals are Vegan??)
  • All Natural (yet the ingredients list is a mile long?)

Food in grocery stores are plastered with labels and buzz words. I see “organic” everywhere and wondered exactly how organic a box of crackers can be…To me, real food is something that comes from a garden or a farm. Our typical dinner now is a protein with a salad and a vegetable on the side. No more rice, processed foods, pasta, etc. Just natural things that don’t come from a box.

There were a lot of really great comments on the post Is Obesity Contagious? I loved that the topic sparked so much discussion.

Skinny Emmie said: “it just has to do with your environment. If I hang out with my social butterfly friends who hang out all hours of the night and drink cosmos like they’re going out of style, I’m probably going to engage in the same behavior.”

This was true for me, too. Certain friends I had were people who also liked eating at restaurants, or going dancing in clubs and drinking a lot. It’s easy to fall into that behavior when everyone around you is doing it.

Diane said: “Misery loves company and so do most of us who have a tendency to overeat. My friends and I would goad each other on. Not good.”

It’s sad, but true, and I’ve written about this in the past. Sometimes not everyone joins you on your journey to health. It’s important to stick to your guns and not let someone else’s food struggles bring you back down.

Sara’s comment really illustrated the topic: “I used to go out and party HARD every weekend. It was why my friends invited me out – they could count on me to be the party even if it was a party of 1. I was the entertainment. When I stopped drinking as much and wanted to be healthier (and actually remember the times with my friends) I noticed I didn’t get invited out much. And when I did I felt almost chastised for not getting wasted and being crazy. I also started to notice how NOT FUN those friends really were. “

Great comments guys!


QUESTION: How much processed food do you eat? How do you feel when you eat it?


Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

17 thoughts on “Eat Real Food”

  1. We eat very little processed food… “now”. But before I started my journey that is ALL we ate. Mostly for the convenience of it. I just wrote a post about needing to shop for gluten free foods and realized that clean eating was mostly gluten free. I realized this after we had a cart full of sugar filled, fat filled gluten free “substitutions”.

    I feel so much better when I eat clean. More energy. Less headaches. Clothes fit better!! 🙂
    Jill recently posted..Gluten Free is not a Free Pass to Unhealthy!

    1. It’s hard finding things that are “free” of something that AREN’T packed with substitutes and sugar. I’ve never tried to go gluten free but friends that have struggled to find stuff they could eat. I know it was a challenge for me to go low-carb. There’s carbs in everything.

      That’s great that your headaches have improved!

    1. You hit the nail on the head–I just feel GROSS when I eat highly processed foods now. Although it’s hard to go completely processed-free. Like we buy bread and condiments–all processed. I think your percentages are pretty close to ours too.

  2. I just posted that image on my facebook wall earlier – it’s so awesome!

    I don’t eat a ton of processed foods. I try to cook as much as I can or at least rely on healthier convenience foods like bags of steamed whole veggies. When I started my full time job a few months ago I tried eating frozen meals because that’s what my coworkers do and I got through 3 before I was sick of them. I hate stuff like that!
    Mary (A Merry Life) recently posted..Fear and Motivation

    1. My friend found it a few weeks ago and I loved it. I had to write a post about it!

      I ate the frozen meals for lunch for a long time too but I just FEEL BETTER eating real food!!

  3. I define processed food of anything “faked up” with chemicals, additives, etc. Because in reality even things like yogurt are technically processed. But an organic greek yogurt with simply the yogurt and some fruit mixed in isn’t processed to me. Yoplaits with extra artificial sweeteners and coloring would be processed.

    With that said, I think I keep a pretty good base of getting my meals from 3/4 unprocessed in my use of the word. It deifnitely used to be more though because (like you) I feared not knowing the calorie count of things.
    Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun recently posted..10 Tips To Running Success

    1. I think those Yoplait yogurts are just candy. There’s so much sugar in them! I eat the organic Greek yogurt–plain! With a little fresh fruit in it. There are definitely “processed” things I do eat and will not eliminate from my diet (sour cream, greek yogurt, ice cream, condiments) but limiting my processed food intake to just those things makes me feel better.

      1. It was this line, that I might have read it wrong: ” No sodas, even diet, unsweetened iced tea, no juice.”

        I just couldn’t figure out why it would be bad to drink unsweetened iced tea.

  4. About half way to loosing 100 pounds I hit a plateau, and I spoke to a trainer at the gym…she asked what I was doing…I proudly told her how I worked out 5-6 days a week…then she asked about FOOD…and I again proudly told her about all the “healthy” low cal diet BLUE MENU food I ate…she looked at me and shook her head. That’s when I was introduced to eating WHOLE REAL food…did it ever CHANGE my body! the rest of that weight came off much faster, and I eat MORE, and I feel better too. I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, REAL food 🙂 Cooking and baking with my kids and it feels so very good. It makes me feel WHOLEsome feeding my family this way.
    Katie Squires recently posted..Move More, Eat Well 2012: February

    1. What a compelling story! Isn’t it funny how we ignore something as SIMPLE as food? I did the same thing. I thought I was eating so healthy…but in reality, I wasn’t. I was eating diet food and chemicals. The food component is even more important than the exercise part, I think.

      Thanks for sharing your story! I’d love to hear more about what you and your kids cook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge