Whole vs. Real Food Diets

A definite first step to switching over to a whole foods or clean eating diet is knowing the difference between the two.

Let’s try to define the diets. A whole foods diet consists of: vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. So, more or less, it’s a strict vegan diet. There’s not a lot of wiggle room: no cheese, no bacon, no sugar. Lots of “no” foods. The raw foodies are the elite of this class, believing that cooking over 118 degrees F will strip the fruits and veggies of a lot of their healthy vitamins and enzymes. Whole foods = 1 ingredient.

A clean eating or real food diet is a bit more relaxed. A real food diet consists of whole ingredients. Whole grains. Whole milk. Nothing is processed. Nothing is added. The goal of a clean eating family would be to be able to pronounce/recognize all of the ingredients they consume. Meat, dairy, eggs are all okay. One of my favorite real food websites is 100 days of real food and there’s a great list of links there on getting started with a real food diet. Real foods (usually) = 5 or fewer whole ingredients.

So where do the Bakers fall? Kind of somewhere in the middle (and sometimes a little behind). Because of Lucy and Landon’s allergies we’ve eliminated eggs from our diet. We all drink (and bake with) almond milk but I can’t give up cheese. Or ice cream. Or bacon. [vices] We have switched over the pantry to a wide variety of whole grain flours [whole wheat, white whole wheat, oat, spelt, gluten-free all purpose, brown rice, potato starch, and garbanzo & fava bean flours].

Sometimes we eat things that are not considered real foods. If we run out of the puffed grain cereals that both kids really like [kamut and corn] then I pick up some rice squares next time I’m at the grocery store to hold me over until our next order from the health food shop. And I think that’s okay. I don’t want to raise real food eaters, I want to raise healthy eaters who are able to independently make appropriate choices on what to eat. I want the kids to be exposed to a variety of fruits and vegetables. And, most ardently, I want them to be willing to try new things [food or otherwise]. I don’t want to get so caught up in labeling how we eat that they feel inadequate to make those choices by themselves.

So real food vs. whole food? I’m going with healthy food. It’s all subjective anyway. ;) Anyone else want to try to put a label on the way their family eats?

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15 thoughts on “Whole vs. Real Food Diets

  1. I would say we fall mostly in the real food camp, though we do eat out several times a week and I do buy prepackaged allergy free foods (waffles, french toast, granola bars, bread) from time to time. My goal is to make more of these things at home but with a baby in the house, I do what I can. I would like to reduce our dependance on so many grain products, but with egg and peanut/tree nut allergies, it doesn’t leave us with many breakfast alternatives, as you well know!

  2. mommalovescookin says:

    I would say we are kind of like you all, but still in the process of fully switching over. We eat lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meats. I do still buy some prepackaged items… cereal, granola bars, occasionally frozen waffles, but that is pretty much all. Since we are trying to eat healthier overall, and I am on a lengthy weight loss journey, it just made sense to move in the direction of more whole foods, and little or no refined sugar. It sure has opened up a whole new tasty world for us! My 9 year old said yesterday over breakfast of whole wheat apple muffins, “I like the taste of these better than the ones you used to make.” I call that SUCCESS! I would say we are real food eaters, except when we eat out!

    • heybethbaker says:

      I absolutely love when I make something better for them and they like it just as much [or better!].

    • heybethbaker says:

      I think breakfast is the hardest. Partially because Lucy is one of those kids that wakes up hungry. She doesn’t want to wait for me to make something and she wants something she can eat without a fork or spoon [she's not coordinated in the morning, either].

    • I think you’ve been reading my mail! :D Sounds like we’re in the same boat!

      • And my kids are the opposite at breakfast. They hardly eat anything. Lydia will eat the mess out of some eggs, but I’m really going to have to think outside the box for breakfast for Jonathan, especially when he starts school full day. Carbs from cereal or breakfasty items plus milk is just not going to cut it. I’m not sure what he’d think about a Paleo breakfast of meat and veggies! :D

      • heybethbaker says:

        I keep telling them, “I wish you would just eat oatmeal, it will stick to your insides.” But I think I’m just scaring them.

  3. [...] husband’s family and they are cool people, so she must be too!  Check out her post today on Whole versus Real Food diets and where her family falls into those categories.  You’re going to love her! This entry [...]

  4. Melonnie Murphy says:

    We have gone “real” or “organic” for our animal products: meat, (cage free) eggs, dairy. Eventually we will be completely “real” or “organic” (oh those college loans). After watching FOOD INC. we understand the food industry more clearly. We want a real foods diet. (There are foods I will never be able to give up: bacon, Chinese take-out, and sugar cookies.)

  5. daryl says:

    I never even realized there was a difference between whole and real food. I have always used the terms interchangeably. I wonder if this is across the board on food scholarship and academia! Thanks for the post, I’m definitely going to be more aware of how I use and define the words I’m using. :)

    • heybethbaker says:

      I’m not sure. I have a lot of friends who were interested in our food diet but were scared away by a whole foods diet, so I think pointing out a real food option is important. And easier to use as a transition. [I think we have Whole Foods Market to thank for the confusion :)].

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