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You might reasonably ask, “Don’t I eat real food?”. Actually, if you’re a typical American eating the typical American diet – chances are this concept is being challenged. Most Americans eat highly processed ‘food’ that all too often is loaded with added sugar, fat, salt and artificial ingredients. What most of us eat could be more accurately described as “Edible food-like substances.”

How do you know if what you are eating is “real food?” Here is a simple test…read the ingredient label. There are many whole food options that contain only real ingredients. Hint – most packaged goods in the middle of the supermarket are processed. Try to shop the perimeters of the supermarket with the fresh fruits, vegetables and healthier options. Some examples, in addition to whole fruits and vegetables, are handmade guacamole, whole chicken and roasted vegetables with olive oil (avoid the canola oil!). Most real food options have 1-5 ingredients. When you start seeing ingredients you do not know, or cannot pronounce, or have over 8-10 ingredients, you know it is highly processed. The nutrition labels on all packaging will give you incredible insight into the health of a product.

For, anyone who wants to do a deeper dive on the subject, the book Real Food: What to Eat and Why is a great resource.

By Dr. Michael Bilof