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5 Tips for Easing Into Real Food

Erin January 10, 2012

easing into real food

Image by sasha 

by Erin Odom, Contributing Writer

I must confess: I’m an all-or-nothing person. When I decide to do something–whether it be cloth diaper my child, achieve a natural birth in a hospital (shocking!) or blog, I go at it full force.

But it can be to my detriment. Why? When you think everything has to be all or nothing, you can burn out easily. And when you realize you really cannot do it all, frustration sets in.

Making the switch from the Standard American Diet to a real-food lifestyle is no different. If you go at it full force, you may burn out, give up and frustrate yourself. 

If you’re new to this whole real-food thing, sit back, relax, and take things slowly. (I started all this more than 3 years ago, and it’s been one baby step after another. And there are still many aspects of the real foods lifestyle that my family cannot attain.)

So if you’re an all-or-nothing person like me, how do you avoid that during your switch to the real foods lifestyle?

Image by vikush

5 Tips for Easing Into Real Food

1. Start Slowly

If, up until now, your meals have consisted of frozen processed meats, canned creamed soups and sides of boxed mac ‘n cheese, don’t expect to go straight to raising your own chickens, milking your own cows and making your own pasta from scratch. Doing so would be like setting yourself up for failure. Instead, start out with baby steps. Quit buying processed meats, attempt at making your own soups–with store-bought milk–and use real cheese and whole wheat or rice pasta to make your own mac ‘n cheese. 

Image by vassiliki

2. Get a Real Foods Buddy

If none of your friends or family eat real foods, you may be in for an uphill battle. Seek out a friend who wants to make the switch with you–or, better yet, is a few steps ahead of you and can mentor you along. Your friend doesn’t have to be in person. I have gotten to know some great real food friends through blogging that have been a great encouragement to me.

3. Take an Online Real Foods Ecourse

GNOWFGLINS is a blog and e-course that teaches real foodies one step at a time. Some of the courses are even free!

4. Read Real Food Books and Cookbooks

…and choose one new recipe or step to take each week

I’m currently going through Stephanie Langford’s Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time eBook. In fact, I decided I wanted the accountability, so I’m also leading a Facebook group to keep me accountable in accomplishing the steps in the book that I haven’t yet achieved.

5. Trust God to Provide

Part of my frustration has come when I realize my family truly cannot afford to go 100% “real” right now. My state outlaws the sale of raw milk to humans. Sure, I can drive an hour to the state line to get some, but I’d have to pay for gas (and we all know how cheap gas is these days!) and $7 per gallon on top of that. That’s just not in our budget right now. I’ve heard over and over from others, “We cannot afford NOT to invest that in our health.” But here’s the thing, some of us (me included) don’t have the money to invest. If you don’t have it, you just don’t. Trust God that He knows your needs and will supply exactly that.

So, go ahead, dive into the real foods lifestyle–just don’t dive head first! 🙂

How are you easing into real food without getting frustrated?

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This is the writings of:

Erin is a believer in Jesus Christ and stay-at-home wife and mom of two little redheaded girls. She is passionate about Jesus, mission work, her family and researching how to live a healthier lifestyle. She writes for several print and online publications, blogs about natural living and homemaking at The Humbled Homemaker and also edits eBooks. She is author of Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert: A Simple, Comprehensive Guide to Using Cloth Diapers.
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21 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post… I am working towards this myself and it is so nice to see this sentiment reflected, I actually have this as one of my main goals this year, to just let go of impossible expectations and instead make small goals that help me reach the big ones. Wonderful post.

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  2. Great post! It’s all about the baby steps. The very first thing I did was to change from conventional store eggs to pastured eggs. That was about 8 years ago…and we’re still on the journey.

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  3. We started by switching to butter instead of Country Crock, and then switching to coconut oil and lard from foraged pigs instead of corn/canola/”vegetable” oil and Crisco. We did switch to raw milk too and pastured eggs because we found a good source. And eliminated cold cereals for breakfast. Slowly making other changes, but it is hard to do, especially with kids who crave certain things, but we’re gradually making progress. We’re moving towards a primal diet, grain-free, because we suspect some food sensitivities/allergies, but it’s a huge change from how we had been eating, and not easy to do all at once.

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  4. Great pointers Erin! I was all in as well (as I wrote about before…you can get burnt out quickly!)….if you follow these steps you are sure to be successful!

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  5. I, too, am an all or nothing person (in fact, I was just discussing this with a co-worker yesterday). However, my husband and I agreed when we married that we would live within the income the he provides and use my income for paying off student loans and savings, so we are living on a small budget and it is essential that we are frugal. When we started our real food journey, we decided to use up what we already had, trusting God to provide for us. Almost a year later, there is very little processed food left in our pantry and we are finally at a point where I feel like we eat real food 90% of the time. Thanks so much for this post!

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  6. Such a great “keep it real” kind of post. Wish we could do it all 100% local and organic but since we can’t afford to, we make the best choices we can. For us, that means organic and local dairy and meats, but the only fruit/veggies that we buy organic are the ones on the EWG Dirty Dozen list. Gotta draw a line in the sand somewhere with a real budget!

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  7. Really great post Erin. 🙂 As usual…..I imagine I’ll be taking baby steps on this journey my whole life.

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  8. I always need to hear this kind of encouragement. It’s key to take things slowly and not feel guilty for what you’re not able to do at any point in time! It’s a constant struggle, but I have to remind myself that God is in charge and that he will take care of my family’s health and, as you said, provide!

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  9. I started full steam ahead 6 months ago. My son was diagnosed with several food and environmental sensitivities. I did great for a few weeks and just flatlined over the holidays. I love that each day is brand new and God’s mercies are new every morning. Baby steps are the key to just about everything, Thank you for a great reminder.

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  10. Great post Erin! I just love your posts and blog! I too am an all or nothing person. Any recommendations on how to find a real foods buddy? Most of my friends (and husband) think I’m a bit out there. I’ve tried finding like minded people in my area but never seem to have luck. It’s so hard to make friends when you don’t really fit with the mainstream way of doing things.

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  11. Really enjoyed this post. I’ve been on my baby step journey for a year and a half and it’s nice to hear someone say “it’s still good even if you aren’t all the way!” I wanted to go whole hog and met up with roadblocks – a family of 6 who did not want to give up their processed junk and the single income of a teacher for that family of 6. But I (we) have come a long ways and I am very happy with the positive changes we’ve made already! Thanks!

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  12. Thank you for this reminder… I needed it today! We’re making the switch to real foods since we’ve found our son has major gut issues, and it’s a challenge for me to take it a step at a time. I’m definitely all or nothing!

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  13. Well said, Erin! I am totally on the same page as you…right down to the natural hospital births. 🙂

    I especially like your last point. People often say that if you stop buying the junk food, you’ll have money for the healthier options. Well…we don’t buy junk food, so there is no way to cut back in order to, say, switch to free range chickens or organic produce. We can’t cut back on our restaurant meals because we don’t eat out…well, okay, we did eat out in October of 2010 at a burger diner, so there’s THAT. We don’t buy processed foods (except mayo and a few others we’re still working on), order pizza, or go to fast food restaurants, so we can’t scale back to buy better food. THANK YOU for acknowledging that many people in the real world have cut back as much as possible and still don’t have the resources to go all out, but can still feel good about doing their personal best for their families.

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  14. Baby steps! This is constantly on my mind.
    It is SO frustrating that the foods we do so much to are cheaper than the ones that aren’t processed. I will never understand that. I am waiting for the day when it goes back to how it should be.
    I’ve also figured out that if my family (especially my husband, who grew up with white bread smeared with marshmallow fluff and jiffy peanut butter) is going to eat the food I have to modify healthy recipes with a little bit of the “bad” and then slowly wean them off of it.

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  15. Thank you so much for pointing out the cost factor. I have been slowly working on food changes, and some of them are just not in the budget. I really appreciate that you point that out. Meanwhile, I am so excited the more changes I make! Thank you for everything!

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  16. Thanks for the great post! I’ve recently taken some major steps to eating real food myself. This required me to learn how to cook. I come from a family that hates cooking, so I guess it made sense that I hated it as well. It was especially hard over the holidays, which is just after I made a few major steps towards eating real food, because I went home with my family and got served a pre-cooked, smoke-flavored, boneless turkey breast for Christmas Eve dinner. That was really hard to deal with because while I’m thankful that my family provided food for the dinner, it didn’t taste good and it wasn’t inline with my real food goals. When I came home, it made me eager to take more real food steps (like baking my first loaf of home-made bread!!) and I’ve continued to take more steps. But I know I can never be 100% unless I want to cook everything for every family gathering.

    Thanks for your post!

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  17. […] avoid that during your switch to the real foods lifestyle? Check out the rest of this post over at Modern Alternative Mama! I’m linking up with: Homestead Barn Hop, Monday Mania, Mangia Mondays, Real Food […]

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  18. […] diet can be daunting at first. We all have different budget constraints and that is ok. Just ease into real food, work with what you have and don’t beat yourself […]

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  19. […] show you how prevalent GMOs really are in our food supply.  We have a lot of information here on taking baby steps to healthier eating. We’re here to help — we just want you to be […]

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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