If you’ve been struggling with gut problems, energy slumps and a general “blah” feeling, the culprit could be your diet. Here's why the solution could be as simple as jumping aboard the JERF movement – Just Eat Real Food.
So many of us are eating heavily processed breads, cereals and snacks every day, not to mention the sugar-laden yoghurts and muesli bars that line the supermarket shelves. Even when we opt for the products labelled as “health foods”, we end up putting additives into our bodies. The results can include inflammation, digestive issues and, over time, the development of conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes and liver disease. Sometimes the only way to control what’s going into your food, is to make it yourself. Here’s why it pays to JERF – and what you’ll need to get started. Plus, we’ve included a free recipe from the No Sugar Baking Cookbook to get you cooking real, whole food that’s affordable and nutritious.
What is “real food”?
The goal of JERFing is to eat foods that are fresh and whole, minimally processed and free of preservatives and added sugars. The more processing a product has, the less likely it will make it to the JERF list. But, there is some variance in what different people consider to be real food, though in general you’ll find agreement that whole, nutrient-dense foods are the priority – that’s what we mean we talk about real foods. Take a look at some of the products to load up on:
- Whole fruits and veggies
- Whole grains
- Legumes, nuts and seeds
- Beverages like water and tea
- Dairy and eggs
- Fermented foods
Eat whole fruits and veggies
Fruit juices are often packed with added sugars, though even those that don’t slip in the additives are detrimental to our health. This is because they lack the fibre needed to slow the absorption of the fructose from the fruit, along with dosing us with a higher concentration of fruit.When you consume fruit in this form, your risk for obesity shoots up, as we know that studies have found a direct link between fructose and the development of obesity. Further, another study shows we’re downing over 4 times the daily sugar limit, so it should come as no surprise that obesity rates have tripled since 1975.
Plus, excess fructose intake also causes cause insulin resistance, resulting in type 2 diabetes, which affects 8.5% of adults and is the cause of millions of deaths every year. That’s just one of the reasons to opt for whole fruits and veggies over the liquid stuff. Not just for the vitamins and minerals, but for that fibre content that protects against metabolic syndrome, digestive conditions and inflammation – whole fruit is the best way to JERF.
Whole grains over processed grains
Fast-release, processed grains like white bread and rice will spike your blood sugars – and fast. This is because they’ve been stripped of those beneficial nutrients that whole grains have in excess, resulting in the glucose hitting our bloodstream faster. These foods, though fine in moderation, put you at a higher risk of a blood-sugar spike. These are the signs to look out for:
- Fatigue and muscle pain
- Increased thirst and urination
- Blurry vision
- Brain fog
This is where whole grains come in. Foods like quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, wholegrain bread and oats are all higher in fibre, higher in nutrients and less likely to spike our blood sugar levels. They actually help keep our blood-glucose in check, along with providing longer-lasting energy, curbing sugar cravings and satisfying our appetite. What’s not to love?
Switch up your processed comfort foods and fast-food favourites
Deep fried, sugary foods are the meals of choice for so many of us when we’re stressed or sad – but there is another way. You can make highly nutritious comfort foods without all the consequences of excess sugar, which can include increased risk for diabetes and obesity. We know sugar is one of the lead drivers of increasing obesity rates, with studies showing a direct link between obesity and sugar. Worse still, researchers have found excess fructose can cause leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that tells the brain that we’re full, without it we may still feel hungry even after a full meal. The result? Weight gain, obesity and even diabetes.
So, make your own comfort foods! They can be tasty, nutritious and comforting – using real, whole ingredients. It’s possible, we swear. If you’d like to see for yourself, check out our classic eBooks for everything from brownies to crispy roast potatoes. To get you started, we’ve included a comforting recipe that ticks all the boxes.
Strawberry Cheesecake Muggin
This easy mug cake puts a spin on the nostalgic flavours of strawberry cheesecake, plus it doesn’t hurt that it’s ready in minutes!
- ¼ cup almond meal or gluten-free plain flour
- 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon pistachios, chopped, plus extra to serve
- 2-3 strawberries, chopped, plus extra to serve
- ¼ cup milk, any kind
- 1 tablespoon full-fat ricotta, plus extra to serve
- Place all the ingredients in a microwave-safe porcelain mug and mix with a spoon. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
- Serve with a dollop of ricotta, and the extra pistachios and strawberries.
Keen for more health tips and tasty recipes? That’s what we’re here for. With the 8-Week Program, you’ll have access to exclusive meal plans, recipes and exciting content from our panel of experts. You’ll have the tools to navigate the confusing world of nutrition, making our program one of the easiest ways to make sure your health goals become a reality. There’s no better way to get your health back on track. So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, JOIN NOW!