The secret to healthy eating is to simply eat real food. You mean, there is such a thing as fake food? Yes! As Michael Pollan once said, if it arrives through the window of your car, it’s not real food. Most fast food items have 25+ ingredients in them. One of my favorite examples is KFC’s mashed potatoes, which has 28 ingredients! Since it only takes five ingredients (potatoes, milk, butter, salt, and pepper) to make real mashed potatoes, that means there is a LOT of fake stuff in those so-called “potatoes.” And no, that does not include the gravy, which has an ingredient list just as long. So, if you have a meal at KFC, you are easily ingesting 100+ ingredients, most of which are NOT actually food.

There is also a lot of fake food in the grocery store though. Many edible items sold in boxes, bags, cans, jars, and in the frozen food section have long ingredient lists of synthetic substances. So, what exactly is real food? Real food comes from the garden and the pasture, not a laboratory. People ate real food from the beginning of time until the early part of the 20th century when food chemistry was invented. Real food includes unprocessed vegetables, fruits, beans, meat, fish, nuts, dairy, eggs, and grains.

How do you eat real food?

Many of us have been conditioned by modern marketing to believe that we don’t have time to cook, but you don’t have to be Top Chef to simply prepare a nutritious dinner. One of my favorite quick meals is fish with sautéed vegetables. Fish cooks in about 10 minutes, which is about how long it takes to sauté vegetables in olive oil or butter. This is less time than you would spend sitting in the drive-thru window at a fast food restaurant. In 10 to 15 minutes, you can get a quiche in the oven. Let the oven do its thing for half an hour while you do something else around your house. In less than 10 minutes, you can get dry beans, spices, and a can of chopped tomatoes and other vegetables into a slow cooker. Let it simmer while you’re at work, and you can come home to vegetarian chili or minestrone.

Fake food includes too much salt, sugar, trans-fats, preservatives, and artificial ingredients, all of which are bad for you. These things are responsible for heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity. By reducing or eliminating these things, you can improve your health.

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