10 {first} steps to eating real food

I've had quite a few people tell me they were stressing because they didn't know where the heck to start when it comes to eating better. I was the exact same way. I was learning and reading so much, but didn't really know which areas to tackle first. Once again, I am no expert. You may want to dive in and start grinding your own grain and making your own yogurt! (if so, you're my hero) If not, here's a few places to start.

The goal is eating food as close to its natural state as possible...
1. Start reading labels. Not the nutrition facts. As I mentioned in this previous post, if the ingredients are few, real, and nutritious, it doesn't matter how many calories or fat is in it. Stay away from words like "refined" and "enriched" (that just means its highly processed) as well as products that have any form of soy or corn (which are most likely genetically modified). There are some great options now that are pre-packaged—because we can't make everything from scratch, right? But the goal is a lot of whole foods (veggies, fruit, cheese, good meat, beans, etc.) Hang out in the perimeter of the grocery where all the fresh stuff is, instead of the center. 
read the ingredients, not just the label
2. Stop eating out as much. Give yourself a goal. Shoot for making 2 homemade meals a week and if you're up for it, doubling the recipe to freeze for another night. Even if the meal you make at home isn't completely from scratch, it will inevitably be better than eating out. (unless you're just eating frozen corn dogs, then that doesn't count). We for sure do not eat gourmet meals every night (or ever for that matter). We eat a lot of hodgepodge, beans, and breakfast for dinner.

3. Start going to your local farmers market. It is so fun and honestly, not much different in cost than eating organic produce from Whole Foods— sometimes cheaper. It's kind of our Saturday family ritual. Just be sure and ask the farmer if they "spray their produce" with pesticides. Some do and some don't. Its a great place to get pasture-raised eggs (extremely good for you), fresh bread, and clean meat as well.
Mckinney Farmer's Market
4. Start buying full-fat dairy and cooking with and eating REAL BUTTER (preferably grass-fed and organic). Contrary to what we've been taught, FAT IS NOT BAD! Go ahead, slather some butter on those veggies, drink a glass of whole milk and eat some real yogurt! Fat is needed for a host of processes in our body like absorbing nutrients and vitamins. You'll start feeling so much better when you stop eating all the emulsifiers, fillers and additives they put in to replace the fat. Not to mention, fat feeds your brain (that's why kids and pregnant mamas definitely need it.)
5. Plan and Prepare- I am not a natural planner, but I've had to become one. I have a little routine that I do at the beginning of each week. I cut up and wash my veggies so I have no excuse when I'm lazy or tired—they're ready to grab or go on a salad. I pre-make yogurt parfaits, or a bunch of smoothies and store in mason jars and freeze for breakfast or snacks (this has been a life saver!) I sometimes pre-make snack bags with popcorn, trail mix or cut up cheese. And think ahead about my meals for the week (pulling meat from the freezer to thaw in fridge).

6. Start buying clean meat and lower overall meat consumption. I'm not pro-vegetarian at all, but we definitely eat too much meat in our culture. The goal is hormone-free, antibiotic-free across the board. Grass-fed (for beef) and free-range (for chicken). Fish should be wild, not farm raised. (Whole Foods has clean meat, but for local meat Memphis friends: West Wind Farms can be bought at Super Lo. Dallas friends: The Local Yocal)

7. This is a hard one... stop buying boxed cereal. I had to grieve this because it is one of my favorite things in the whole world. But it has no nutritive value and is usually LOADED with GMO (genetically modified) sugar or grain as well as a slew of artificial ingredients. From a metabolic standpoint, it gives you a sugar high and then crashes you a few hours later—not a great way to start the day. Not to mention its expensive!!

8. Start buying 100% Whole Wheat bread. Bread that is on the shelves at the grocery store is loaded with preservatives and a ton of chemical allowing it to stay "good" for a LONG time. It also usually has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it (that one threw me for a loop!). The fact that it takes forever for it to go bad shows there is NO nutritional value because the wheat has been SO refined; therefore even mold doesn't care for it. Be sure and read the ingredients and not the label claims (case in point- the pic of the label above is for 100% whole grain bread).
It is SUPER hard for your body to break down this type of bread because of the way the wheat is prepared (and all the other junk). Some people would say no grain/bread, but I'm just not willing to give it up quite yet—but we have lowered our bread consumption because we feel so much better when we go without. (NOTE: if you have low energy, cut out bread for a week and see what happens—you'll be so surprised how good you feel!)
There are a few brands where the wheat is whole and even sprouted (which is way easier for the body to absorb)— Ezekiel Bread is our favorite right now (in freezer section- just pop in the toaster to thaw). Sourdough is another great option and much easier for your body to digest than regular loaf bread.
9. Start with ONE area and go from there. Whether it be kicking the Coke habit, replacing processed snacks with nutritious ones, or teaching yourself how to plan healthy meals. Every little step makes a difference. It took me a good year to detox and clean up our bad habits and figure out our own rhythm. This is not an overnight crash diet—it's a lifestyle change so be easy on yourself
10. Shoot for the 80/20 rule. Try your best to eat really well 80% of the time so that you can relax the other 20% (when life happens or you're eating out). Shooting for perfection or becoming obsessed with all of this will not only result in burn out, but annoy everyone else around you.


  1. Thanks for this super helpful post, friend!

  2. This is exactly what I need: like, a "How to Eat Right for Dummies" . . . so it really helps to have some easy basics to start out with—otherwise, it can be so overwhelming. THANK YOU!

  3. I'm so glad it helped! Thanks for reading, friend!!

  4. Had no idea Super Lo had West Wind Farms!!! So awesome! Thanks for the info.

  5. All really good tips; explain how you do smoothies in advance. This was a tip that has helped me a ton.

  6. I'm going to do a post on it soon. I'm glad its helped yall!

  7. Hey there! Yes, I talked to the West Wind Farms people at the farmers market when I was in town and they do carry a few cuts of meat there—not everything. Possibly their eggs too??