nourishing traditions + sustainable habits

How to recognize REAL food versus edible non-food…

In his popular book on food, Michael Pollan advised to “eat food, mostly plants, not too much.” This simplistic advise encapsulates most of the food philospohy that a real food diet does. Except for maybe the focus on eating not too much. When we are eating enough balanced meals and nutrients we don’t have the need or desire to overeat as much. As we eat food, not what Michael Pollan calls ‘edidible non-food’ which is probably what the majority of the general public’s diet consist of, we reteach our body to crave the right kinds of food in the amounts that we need. Since cutting out the processed foods I’ve not had to worry about limiting the amount I eat because my body does it for me.

So what is real food? At the grocery store, real food is mostly found in the produce and fresh meat/fish aisles. In this post, I want to introduce the basics of real food eating that can get you started on your real food journey to a better and healthier you and family, one that is simple and sustainable.


When shopping for foods for your family, choose real food that is in the state that is closest to what can be found in nature. Avoid chemically processed foods that you are invented and created in labs, these are the ‘edible non foods’. It is not about calories, avoiding certain food groups, or fasting like alot of diets out there. It is about getting the purest, most nutrient dense foods into our bodies, which then leaves less room and craving for those non-foods.

It’s about finding real substitutes for our favorite non-foods. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. You don’t need to do it all at once, but gradually begin switching real foods for the non-foods and the more you do it the more you will realize that real foods actually taste better and make you feel much better than the non-foods.

I don’t believe in diets. I don’t believe in depriving your body of a certain type of real food like gluten, dairy, etc unless you have a specific condition that requires it. I want to offer you a lifestyle where you enjoy real food prepared by you, not packaged non-food made by companies and food scientists.

I will go into more detail in other posts about the specifics, but below you will find some examples of real foods that you should eat and non foods that you should avoid as much as possible. Note that these lists aren’t exhaustive but just some things to get you started and thinking about foods in a new way.



  • Vegetables & Fruit
  • Healthy Fats (coconut oil, olive oil, butter, ghee, avocado oil, cod liver oil, etc)
  • Full Fat Dairy (Natural or Greek Unsweetened Yogurts, Unprocessed Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Kefir, Milk)
  • Whole Grains (quinoa, bulgar, buckwheat, rolled or steelcut oats, wholemeal or even better sourdough bread, rice)
  • Legumes (black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils)
  • Vinegars & Spices
  • Pastured Meats and Poultry (be careful with processed meats like deli meat, sausages, bacon, pre-packaged, etc)
  • Nuts and Seeds (almonds, pistachios, chia, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax/linseed, go for raw nuts where the list of ingredients is only the nut itself)



  • Sugar (white sugar, corn syrup, any sugar ending in -ose (fructose, maltose, sucralose, etc), cane juice, dextrin, etc)
  • Chemically Processed Fats (canola oil, margarine, vegetable spread, flora, vegetable oil, soybean oil, etc)
  • Processed Foods (this category is extensive–boxed cereals, flavored yogurts, ready made foods, jarred sauces, sodas, juices that are not 100% juice, some frozen meats (check labels to make sure meat is the only ingredient), pre-shredded cheeses, most salad dressings, etc). Basically, before buying any packaged food make sure you recognize every ingredient as a real food.
  • Diet/Fat Free or Low Fat Foods
  • No Added Sugar Foods (these can be tricky, sometimes these can be okay but more often than not instead of adding sugar they have used an alternative sweetener like aspartame that to me can be even worse for you than sugar, learn to check labels)


It may seem daunting when you look at how many items you may need to switch out, but its doable. Just start small, switching one item at time for the healthier option. For example, a simple switch to get you started would be to toss the processed margarine or vegetable spead and use grass fed butter instead. Good luck in your journey to a healthier lifestyle and feel free to add any questions in the comments or email me any topics you would like me to talk about further.

5 thoughts on “How to recognize REAL food versus edible non-food…”

    • Definitely! For those not comfortable cooking in the kitchen it can take a while to gain confidence in the kitchen but as soon as they do its does add much more time to your food prep. Thanks for reading!

  • Good read thanks! I am starting to cook more (not always whole foods, but my time in the kitchen has increased, baby steps!) my issue is lunch at work. I don’t enjoy salad and mainly opt for a shop bought pre packaged sandwich! Nightmare!

    • It’s always hard to change habits, but I find going gradual is the way to go. It’s much more sustainable long term that way. I really like leftover from dinner for my work lunches. It’s easy and if you had a healthy dinner, nutritious as well.

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