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Often, I am asked the question, “If you could give me one piece of nutrition advice, what would that be?” I give everyone the same answer. Eat real food. But...what is real food? Last year, Spindle held a challenge where participants strived to only eat “real food” for one month’s time. I got a lot of feedback on how surprised people were about the food they were eating and its connection to being "real."

Let's talk about what is considered "real food.”  We are going to define “real food” as food that has not been processed in a way that changes its nutritional value or structure. For example, an orange is real food, but orange juice, unless freshly squeezed with nothing added, is not real food. Anything that comes in a box or package is usually not real food either. Real foods are your proteins, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fats in their natural forms. Another example of turning a real food into a processed food would be a brown rice cake. The brown rice is considered “real food” while the brown rice cake, although made of the same ingredient, has been processed.

So, why is it so important to eat real food? American food manufacturers are always trying to get the most bang for their buck. They add preservatives and other things that make food shelf-stable for long durations of time, thus increasing their return. However, our bodies do not like processed food. Often, these foods are higher in sugar, calories, and fat, and, also are not easily digested by the body.

Today, just think about what you're eating and consider whether it's real or not. Maybe write some of these things down or put them in your food logs. Similar to how we focused on awareness during the first month, today, just be aware of what you were eating and whether it's processed or real.