Keeping it real with The Nutritionista – How to avoid fake food and eat for health


The Nutritionista (aka Laurie Ledford)  is a Registered Dietitian at Tucson Medical Center who uses her knowledge and experience every day to support patients making healthy nutrition choices and prevent or combat the major killers of our time. Have a question about something you’ve heard or seen about nutrition or diet? Send your question to the Nutritionista at tmcforwomen at gmail dot com. Check back on TMC for Women for Nutritionista’s blog posts.

You really can eat healthfully by keeping a few simple goals in mind:

1. Eat real food.
2. Eat a variety of foods.
3. Eat mindfully.

They may sound like simple goals, but how can you accomplish them? Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when making food choices, to help you create strategies that work for you.

Eat Real Food

Not everything we humans eat these days is food. Some of it is highly processed, salt-laden, sugar-added, nutrient-poor, food-like products. Examples of edible things that are not real food include:

  • crunchy snacks with names ending in “-itos” or “Doodles”
  • meat products formed into perfect geometric shapes
  •  fruit or vegetable snacks that more closely resemble arts and craft supplies than they do actual plants
  • any product that, if taken out of its plastic wrapper and left on your kitchen table, would neither rot nor be eaten by the family pet
  • a product with an ingredient list you could not read aloud in a single breath
  • products that feel the need to proclaim their “health benefits” all over the package
  • beverages that can be purchased from a convenience store fountain for 50 cents per quart (and yes, I do mean soda)

Get the picture? These are not foods that were raised or harvested or cooked by people. They have been manufactured and processed for the purpose of addicting your taste buds and getting you to buy more of them, regardless of the health consequences.

So then, what is real food?

I’ve heard it said that real food is something your great-grandmother would recognize as food.

Here are just a few examples:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • minimally processed foods – such as frozen veggies, frozen fruit, stone ground whole wheat, rolled oats
  • cuts of meat, poultry and fish without added salt, sauce or breading
  • plain milk and yogurt
  • nuts, seeds, olives and the oils made from them

Obviously there is a large gray area between these two extremes, and that is where many of us do a lot of our shopping and eating. If you can eat more foods from the “real” end of the spectrum and take fewer trips to the dark side, then you will be giving your body the nutrients it needs for good health. You may find the flavors more interesting, too.

In future Nutritionista posts, I will discuss the second and third goals of healthful eating, eating a variety of food and eating mindfully. In the meantime, I welcome any comments or ideas you would like to post on the subject of identifying real food. Email them to tmcforwomen at gmail dot com. Put Nutritionista in the subject line.

Until next time health seekers, the masked Nutrionista says,

Adieu- Choose well, live healthy! 


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