Guest Post by Leslie Klenke (author: Paleo Girl)
I’m a total foodie, and like most food fanatics, I proudly display my love affair with all things delicious on my Instagram, @LeslieKlenke. Yes, I’m that girl taking pics of her lunch before digging in. It’s embarrassing, I know. One day after posting a photo of a perfectly grilled grass-fed steak and some greens, a follower of mine left a comment that ended with #JERF. Was she calling me a jerk for not sharing? Oh wait—it said “JERF.” I’m typically pretty good at staying up-to-date on popular Internet acronyms, but this one had me stumped. A quick Google search brought up the phrase “Just Eat Real Food.” Okay, I can get behind this.
I’ve been paleo for over three years, and the focus of my lifestyle is to consume as much real food as possible. I clicked on the hashtag to see what else the #JERF community was posting on Instagram in hopes of finding some new accounts to follow or to get some fresh meal ideas. My excitement quickly turned into disappointment.
Scattered amongst the meaty treats and perfectly prepared veggies, some people were still considering packaged and processed foods to be real food. My initial instinct was to turn my nose up at them. They just don’t know what real food is…but whose fault is that? It’s easy to say we’re all responsible for doing the research and figuring health and wellness out on our own, but sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know—you know?
Besides, who am I to judge? I boastfully mentioned I’ve been paleo for over three years at the beginning of this article, but I conveniently left out the fact that just months prior to discovering paleo I was a vegetarian. Soy burger with plastic cheese, anyone? Had I been using Instagram then, I surely would have posted a pic of my vegetarian nightmare and hashtagged it #JERF. After all, whatever we perceive to be healthy is likely going to be real food to us, right?
So, what is real food? My take on it is this: it’s the food our ancestors ate 10,000 years ago. We’re talking OG food here. Apples that haven’t been modified to be giant balls of wet candy. Steaks that didn’t come from cows pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. Treats that don’t come in boxes or wrappers that have had more money invested in the food’s marketing than in the food itself. Let me put it this way—if you’ve ever seen a
commercial for the food you’re about to put in your mouth, it’s time to reexamine that food.
Still perplexed? Consider the following three pointers, and you’ll be JERF’ing in no time.
1. Real food is magical, but it isn’t supernatural—it goes bad! If your pantry is stocked with so much food that you don’t need a trip to the market for two years, that’s great for the zombie apocalypse, but not so great for your wellness. (I’m looking at you, extreme couponers!) The bulk of your groceries should last you a week or less. I typically buy enough groceries to last me two to three days; I visit a farmers market on the weekend, and usually Trader Joe’s during the week. Making multiple mini trips through out the week ensures the realness of my food, and saves money by eliminating the potential of spoiled meat and produce. Not to mention, food begins to lose nutrients after being harvested—yet another reason to buy local!
2. Real food consumes a diet of—you guessed it—real food! That means you need to consider how your food came into this world. Did that chicken roam free in a pasture, or did she never see the light of day? Were those tomatoes growing like weeds in your backyard, or did they come from a depleted commercial lot treated with pesticides? Getting to know your food will help you understand its realness.
3. Real food is not frankenfood. If you see flashy disclaimers like low fat, sugar-free, or gluten-free, that means the food has been modified and is no longer (or maybe never was) real in the first place. Fat free mayo? Is this real life? Get out of here with your modified food starch, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar! Not to mention, the last time I checked, real food doesn’t have to broadcast how healthy it is.
The next time you’re stumped on the realness of the dish in front of you, remember these tips. Sure, it may seem like common sense to some, but for those of you who have been misguided by years of dieting hype, this is a foolproof starting point.
Want more? Visit me at leslieklenke.com or pick up my new book Paleo Girl available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers nationwide.