So you've decided to change your diet to traditionally prepared foods…
Where do you begin?
You’ve read the research. You’re convinced it will be better for you and your family. You can’t wait to start eating better and feeling better! You’re tempted to quit your old diet and change everything over right now. Or maybe, you’re completely overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin.
Either way, you need a plan.
When we start making changes to our diet, a step-by-step approach is often the best way to achieve long-term success.
Here are 10 steps to totally transforming your diet into healthy, whole foods prepared in traditional ways. Start with the step that is easiest or most exciting to you — you don't have to do them in order! Once you are comfortable with the first step, move on to the next one. Take your time with each. It can take a while for our bodies to adjust to new tastes and routines.
Changing our eating patterns isn’t a sprint to the finish — it's a long-term adventure where you gain new skills and reap better health along the way.
Step #1 — Buy Better Meat
Look for meat that has been pasture-raised. Animals are healthier when they eat the foods their bodies were designed for, and that makes them healthier for us too!
If you’re at a farmer’s market, ask the farmer how their animals are raised. Buy the highest quality meat you can afford.
Step #2 — Reconsider Dairy
Switch to organic or raw milk/dairy products. Or if quality milk is too expensive, or you're sensitive to dairy, consider giving it up for a time!
Step #3 — Fruits & Veggies
Buy organic fruit and vegetables whenever possible. If you have the space and inclination, start growing your own! If you are working with a tight budget, use the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists to help you choose which organic foods to purchase.
Add more veggies and fruits to your diet if you aren't eating lots of them already. Experiment with new recipes and with vegetables you haven’t tried before. It can take several tries for your taste buds to adjust to new flavors so don’t give up on the first try!
Step #4 — Know Your Fats
Fat is not the enemy. Your body needs high quality fats to function properly. However, not all fats are created equal.
Get rid of other sources of unhealthy fats in your kitchen (store-bought salad dressings, store-bought mayonnaise, baked goods, etc.) as you replace them with your own homemade versions.
Step #5 — Start Soaking
Grains, legumes, and nuts have natural enzyme inhibitors that make them difficult for our bodies to digest. Soaking them in a slightly acidic liquid (with a couple exceptions) before cooking helps to neutralize these inhibitors.
It can require a bit of advanced planning, but once you get in the habit, it becomes second nature. Before you go to bed each night, think about what you might cook the next day and put that item out to soak. It only takes a few minutes.
Step #6 — Sourdough
Get yourself a sourdough starter and start making delicious sourdough breads, pancakes, cookies, crackers, and more! Or learn everything you need to know about sourdough baking in our Sourdough eCourse!
Step #7 — Sprouting
Sprouting is a great way to increase digestibility of grains and legumes. Start with something easy like lentils, and work your way up to sprouting grains and grinding your own flour. Our Fundamentals I and II eCourses teach you the basics of sprouting, too.
Step #8 — Fermenting
Fermented foods are full of beneficial bacteria that are great for your digestive tract. Sauerkraut is one of the easiest ferments to make and a great one to start with. Soon you will be fermenting all kinds of vegetables, as well as making your own yogurt, water kefir, milk kefir, and kombucha. Learn how to create your own ferments with our Free Fermenting Cheat Sheet!
Step #9 — Get Naturally Sweet
Empty your cupboards of refined sugars and replace them with unrefined sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar. As you decrease the amount of sugar in your diet, you will find that you appreciate the natural sweetness in fruits and vegetables more than you ever thought possible.
Step #10 — Get Rid of Everything Else
Lots of people will tell you to do this first. The problem is, when you get rid foods you are used to eating, and don’t have anything (yet) to replace them with, they will probably find their way back into their kitchen.
If you’ve done all the steps above, you will have discovered so many new flavors and tastes that some of the foods you used to eat will have already naturally found their way out of the kitchen.
Now it’s time to go through anything that’s left. Take your time. If it’s a food you eat often, decide what you are going to replace it with and make sure you have the replacement handy before you throw the old item out the door.
Traditional Cooking School is full of resources to help you on your food journey, including classes, meal plans, and a supportive Facebook group.
What step will you start with? If you’ve recently started to change your diet, do you have any advice for others starting on their real food journey?
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