Real Food vs Fake Food? {Identifying the Charlatans}

real food or real fake? identify the charlatans

All Natural. Gluten Free. No Sugar Added. No Preservatives.

Due to a growing interest in feeding ourselves better, the health food market has exploded. The positive side of this is that real food and natural choices are becoming more and more readily available. The downside is that many companies are capitalizing on the trend and using clever marketing techniques to convince you that their product is the best thing you could put in your body.

But is it?

One of the first skills to you’ll need on your real food journey is the ability to tell the real food from the fake impostors.

real food vs real fake--identify the charlatans

A Definition For Real Food

This starts, first of all, with defining what real food actually is. My personal definition, as I share in the introduction to my book, “Real {Fast} Food” is:

“…food as close to the way God created it as possible, free of additives and over-processing.”

Many foods do have to be processed (peeled, ground, cooked, or fermented) in order to be eaten, but we should look for the the most natural, traditional processes that changes the food as little as possible from its original form.

The problem with a lot of what is marketed to us as ‘health food’ is that it is so far from it’s original state that it’s unrecognizable, both by our eyes and our bodies. We don’t receive nutrition from fake food, so let’s get it out of our diet! What I’d really like to do in this post is pull back the veil on some of the more popular ‘health’ foods and encourage you to look and think twice before throwing things in your cart.

‘Real Food’ vs ‘Fake Food’–which is it?

1. Milks made from grains and nuts

Nuts in their natural state are crunchy, hard, and brown. What did that poor seed have to go through to become smooth, creamy, white–and often very sweet? The answer? A whole lot of processing. A whole lot of additives for flavor and mouth feel. Preservatives. Colorings. And the list goes on. The poor nut. This is what you call an identity crisis.

I know a lot of people choose milk alternatives because of dairy allergies, or because good milk isn’t available, and believe they are making the best choice for their family. But I’d encourage you to first–ascertain whether your dairy allergy comes from consuming pasteurized, homogenized milk instead of raw or cultured dairy which contains natural lactaid, and secondly–ask yourself if highly processed milk substitutes really are the best thing for your family. Read labels. Look at all the added sugar. Research the manufacturing process. You decide if this is real food. (We’ll talk more about better dairy choices later in this series.)

And to answer the question of whether milk substitutes are ever good for you–yes! If they are made at home. Find out more about milk alternatives and making your own from the Healthy Home Economist.

2. Vegetable Oils

Again–I ask myself–who thought of making oil from a bean or a seed? Do you know what that bean went through to become a clear, oily fluid? Again–a whole lot of processing. Enough, in fact, that it changes the chemical make up of the ‘food’, meaning it loses the real food label, in my book. And did you know that ‘vegetable oil’ is mainly made from soy (a ‘health food’ fad from the 70’s that should be avoided rather than embraced) or GMO corn? And that canola oil, made from rapeseed, is even worse than soybeans?  

A great read on this subject is “The Whole Soy Story” by Kayla Daniels, and we’ll be talking about appropriate oils and fats and how to use them next week.

3. Organic Breakfast Cereals

Do you know what extrusion is? It’s the process most cold cereal products go through in order to make the batter into those perfect little shapes we love to slurp around on our spoon. But do you know what extrusion does? It uses such high temperatures and pressure that it practically makes the grains toxic. Also, have you looked at the ingredient list? Some form of sweetener is always near the top. Even if it’s natural, what you’re doing is giving your body a highly-processed, carb-rich bowlful that at the least is going to give your blood sugar a roller coaster ride for the rest of the morning and at worst burden your system with something it doesn’t even recognize as food.  

Further reading from other real food bloggers: Boxed Cereal is Not Food and About Cereal. (Watch for my post later in this series on real food breakfast options!).

Ya Gotta Read (And Understand!) the Labels

Education is key to identifying real food vs fake food. We need to read and understand how food is labeled. (Do you know how many ways sugar is disguised in ingredients lists?) You can learn more about discerning ingredient labels in these posts:

If we’re gonna make the effort to feed our families well, let’s do so with real food–not over-processed, over-priced charlatans!

Tomorrow I’m gonna share how even spontaneous, free-spirited people can get real food on the table on a regular basis. It’s gonna be life changing. Meanwhile, have you ever gotten fooled by a food label? 

4 responses to “Real Food vs Fake Food? {Identifying the Charlatans}”

  1. Margaret Lewis Avatar

    I didn’t become a full diabetic till I was 55,(right?)u say read well after we read we have to look up the meaning of so many words we don’t understand it’s like going back to school,ur info is very helpful,.I hope in the near future the labels will be easier to read, thank u very much keep up the good work 💯

  2. Chelsea Avatar

    My thoughts exactly! I’ve tried to say this (in a not so eloquent way) so many times, but I can never fully explain to my family why processed foods bother me so much because of my lack of education. Even “natural” processed foods. It just bothers me because it doesn’t seem natural- or right- or anything we should be putting in our bodies. All of the details can be quite overwhelming. 🙂

  3. Stephie N Avatar
    Stephie N

    It’s amazing how many people in my life literally groan when I flip over a box! Even more amazing is the stuff that they willingly put in their bodies! I can’t figure out what paint thinners are doing in Cheerios but you can be sure they aren’t going in our bodies regularly! One if the most helpful bits of advice I heard about grocery store shopping was to always shop the perimiters, and avoid most of the Isles because the real food lives on the perimeter. Good pace to start I think!

    1. Chelsea Avatar

      Love that tip! It’s so true as I’m thinking out my regular store’s layout. 🙂

Leave a Reply

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