What is Real Food


What is ‘Real Food’?

Like most things in the nutrition world, everyone seems to have their own opinion on what the term ‘real food’ actually represents, but in my opinion ‘real food’ is just that…..’real’.

If you look up the definition of ‘real’ and ‘food’ in the English dictionary it gives you a very simple answer to this question…



‘not imitation or artificial’; genuine.

Synonyms: genuine, authentic, bona fide, fair dinkum, honest to goodness



any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth.

Synonyms: nourishment, sustenance, nutriment, subsistence, fare

‘Real food’ doesn’t contain copious amounts of additives, preservatives, sugars, salts, stabilisers, emulsifiers, flavouring etc. to artificially create a product that resembles food. It hasn’t been artificially treated with products to extend shelf life and make it brighter and more appealing to us as consumers.

‘Real foods’ are those that are as close to their natural state as possible, with minimal processing. They are not churned through a factory processing unit to strip them of their goodness and inject them with added ingredients to make them more ‘addictive’ to us as consumers.

I once came across a Dietician who made it pretty simple for me to gauge whether what I was consuming was a ‘real food’ or an ‘imposter’ by prompting me to consider the following….. if I had the time, tools and ingredients available to me to make a certain product, could I make it myself in my kitchen? For example, if I had a cow in my backyard, after some practice I bet I could milk it with my hands and make butter, yoghurt and cheese in my own kitchen without artificial ingredients being required. Or if I had a bee hive in my backyard (I wish), I could extract the honey from the hive and eat it without the need for modification. If I had a grinder and a field large enough to grow wheat or oats, I could grind my own wholemeal flours. You get my drift?

‘Real foods’ are foods that have undergone minimal or no processing prior to reaching us as consumers. And they appear to become a commodity in our highly processed way of life these days.

Why eating ‘Real Foods’ is good for us?

There is plenty of research to support the serious health benefits we can achieve with simply consuming more real food over processed foods. Numerous studies have found epidemiological evidence that eating whole foods (particularly plants!) has a protective effect on health and reduces risk of chronic disease such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, functional decline with aging, diabetes, auto-immune diseases etc etc.

As the saying goes….let food be thy medicine!

There are tonnes of websites and books dedicated to whole food living. I urge you to start doing your own research if you are not yet convinced of the health benefits of eating more natural, high quality, nutrient dense foods.

All of our programs, coaching services and wholefood recipes that we share without various media channels are all centered around empowering you to gain confidence and skills in creating fabulous meals and snack options made with REAL FOOD ingredients so you can energise yourself from the inside out.

So how are we consumers supposed to navigate this mind field?

Nutrition Information

The key is to learn how to read food labels. Become aware of what to look out for to ensure you are consuming foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Take a look at the following ‘cheat sheet’ for nutritional information. This resource has been put together by the Australian Government to assist us as consumers make sense of all the information contained on these panels.

In a nutshell, my key tips for reading food labels are simple:

  1. If there are numbers listed to describe the ingredients on a product, then put the product back on the shelf. Ingredients should be few, simple and you should understand what they are.
  2. Try and stick to products that contain 5 or less ingredients, all of which you are familiar with.
  3. Start to compare products using the 100g/ml column on the nutritional panel. This allows you to compare products on a level playing field.
  4. Understand that ingredients are listed in order from the largest to smallest amounts used in the product.
  5. Become familiar with ‘alias’ names for sugar and salt so you can understand when these ingredients are added to the product.

To help you I have put together a snapshot of the various ‘alias’ names for the biggies we need to look out for in our food – fat, sugar and salt.

Fat Sugar Salt
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Lard
  • Tallow
  • Shortening
  • Dripping
  • Copha
  • Palm oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Animal oil
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Monoglycerides
  • Diglycerides
  • Sucrose
  • Glucose
  • Lactose
  • Malt
  • Dextrose
  • Maple Syrup
  • Maltose
  • Honey
  • Fructose
  • Mannitol
  • Raw sugar
  • Sorbitol
  • Brown sugar
  • Xylitol
  • Molasses
  • Corn Syrup
  • Golden Syrup
  • Monosaccharides
  • Disaccharide
  • Sodium
  • Sea / rock / garlic salts
  • MSG
  • Monosodium – glutamate
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Meat / yeast extract
  • Stock cubes
  • Baking Powder / Soda
  • Vegetable salt

The good news…

Don’t be disheartened. It is possible to find and produce nourishing ‘real food’ meals and snacks for you and your family to enjoy even in today’s hectic lifestyle. You just need a little knowledge regarding what ingredients to look for, what ‘nasties’ to avoid, a little guidance, and a little practice to gain confidence cooking with real food ingredients and you will be well on your way to being part of the ‘real food revolution’, taking charge of your health and as a result living your best life possible.

You don’t need to go it alone… 

If you need support and guidance in navigating your way to a more nourishing, real food way of life- why not consider our 6 week Real Food Reboot Online Course.

Or for a more one on one experience, contact us for individualised coaching with Life Wellness Co. This is our area of expertise… So why not use us to help support you journey?