Lisa Leake from “100 Days of Real Food”
Tell us about your family and your blog?
My blog is called “100 Days of Real Food” and it is about my family’s mission to cut out all processed food from our lives. All four of us, including my husband and two young daughters who are now 4 and 6, went 100 solid days without eating a single ounce of processed food or refined ingredients (including white flour and sugar!). We took our real food pledge over a year ago and much to my surprise, we are still going strong.
Where did the idea to cut out all processed foods come from? What are some of the benefits to this?
We were inspired to make some drastic changes to our diets by Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, but we thought if our family went “cold turkey” for 100 days (and blogged about it) it would draw attention to how dependent people are on processed foods these days. We initially made this change because we thought it was the right thing to do, but we were pleasantly surprised to experience many health benefits that followed including more energy (for the adults), a significant improvement to our younger daughter’s constipation and asthma issues, and even a 50% increase in my HDL (a.k.a. the “good”) cholesterol.
Because eating all natural foods tends to be pretty pricey, you are now doing another 100 day challenge on a budget.
Yes! I actually recently dedicated a post to this very topic.
What has been the most difficult part about cutting out processed foods during these challenges? Are there any foods that you miss?
The most difficult part of our real food pledge was when we were not at home. We truly live in a processed food world, and I never noticed before taking this pledge. There we were, trying to seek out “real food” and it was oftentimes nonexistent. This meant packing up meals to take with us whether we were going to a friend’s house, a birthday party, or on a road trip. It ended up being a lot more work to go somewhere, but I find that I keep doing this even though our pledge is over because our palettes have changed (for the better) and I’ve come to love and prefer real food over anything highly processed. Also, as odd as it sounds the thing I really missed during our pledge were store-bought condiments. I could not find ketchup or mayo (that I didn’t have to make myself) without breaking our rules!
What about your daughters? Do they always enjoy eating these types of foods or was there a bit of an adjustment for them?
There was definitely an adjustment period, but with our kids I found that “out of sight, out of mind” worked pretty well with them. Shortly after we got rid of all the highly processed food in our house, they stopped asking for it. Now, when they are hungry for a snack, there is nothing in our pantry/fridge that is off limits, which is so nice!
What are your top five tips for moms who would like to cut out processed foods from their families’ diet? What are some things to keep in mind and how should they start? Is there a specific store you would recommend?
1. Patience and persistence are key. Do not give up!
2. Start by switching out ingredients in meals your family loves (for e.g. whole-wheat pasta instead of white, organic/local meat instead of factory farmed, organic produce instead of conventional)
3. Share the reasons for cutting out processed food with your family members. Explain to your kids this change will help mommy and daddy live longer and feel better
4. Serve produce that is in-season, fresh, and cooked properly. I don’t blame a person for not liking green beans if they’ve only had them out of a can.
5. Get your family members involved in picking out recipes, food shopping and cooking. You’ve probably heard this before and it works! Also, aside from our local farmer’s market, I love shopping at Earth Fare (which is similar to Whole Foods).
What has been the most rewarding benefit of the real food challenges?
The most rewarding part has been feeling like I am helping others to make a similar transition in their own lives. When people write in almost daily to tell you how much you’ve helped them, that’s hard to beat.