Are you working to ditch processed foods and put more real food on the table? This month we’re running a series called Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Eating Better. Our goal is to answer the questions you might have and make the transition a whole lot easier!

Written by Courtney Dunkin, Contributing Writer

You’ve committed yourself to a journey to natural health and you know the only way to get there is to eat well. You want to eat wholesome, nourishing, real food, but what exactly does that encompass? What qualifies as “real”?

Food products, imitation foods, natural and artificial flavors, additives and preservatives, and a plethora of other scientific “advancements” fill up our local supermarket shelves.

It’s a funny thing that we must even differentiate real food from imposter food, but the world we live in dictates we do. For the sake of our health, we must.

Real food.

It’s a term that’s tossed around a lot these days. But what exactly is “real food”? While there is no official definition for the term, there is a general consensus for what it means.

Real food is wholesome and nourishing. It is simple, unprocessed, whole food. Real food is pure and unadulterated, sustained yet unchanged by man.

Real food has been around since the beginning of time and carries culture and tradition. If it was available to our earliest ancestors, and if it can be grown or raised and prepared and consumed in the same manner our ancestors prepared it, it is most likely “real food.”

Wholesome and Nourishing.

Our bodies constantly require nutrients to function and must be replenished with wholesome food for optimal performance and health. A nourishing meal will leave us feeling satisfied and full yet rejuvenated and energized.

Processed food can support life, but real food supports health and adds to quality of life.


Selecting real food is simply choosing basic foods in the form our Creator made them. Ideally, we should be purchasing single-ingredient foods. The real food kitchen will house very few packages and labels.

Most items come straight from the source. Furthermore, we should always know the source of our food.

Can real food come in a box or bag? Although there are still some wholesome prepared foods out there, anything with more than a few ingredients should be avoided, and ideally, one ingredient should be the goal.


Real food can be prepared at home in your own kitchen. Think culturing, fermenting, soaking, sprouting, canning, preserving, etc. If it wouldn’t be possible to make it in your kitchen, you should not be consuming it in the first place.

If it requires any sort of modern technology, such as a lab or a manufacturing process, it’s best to avoid it completely.

As consumers, there are a multitude of “natural” products for us to choose from. Even our health markets and natural food stores carry “natural and organic” processed foods. But is processed food better simply because it’s certified organic or because its label carries that ambiguous “natural” claim?


Real food is in its natural state, whole and unrefined. For example, we don’t take the fat out of our milk and then add it back in the desired amounts. We recognize the benefit to consuming it naturally.

While not every part of the plant or animal is always consumed, ideally most of it should be. And what’s not used should not go to waste without getting ample use out of it. And when we’re finished, produce waste can go to the compost pile. Bones and leftover meat make rich broth.

Pure and Unadulterated, Unchanged by Man.

Real food is grown in soil naturally optimized for ideal plant health, free from pesticides and other chemicals. Animals are raised without hormones or antibiotics and are free to roam and eat what they were created to eat.

What about heirloom plants? They haven’t been around since the beginning of time. It’s true that some varieties of plants have been introduced only recently, within the last few hundred years or so in some cases, but these varieties are naturally open-pollinated and are still “after their kind” (Gen 1:11-13). They are not manipulated by man at the cellular level.


The movement back to real food is gaining momentum, but real food itself is not new. Choosing real food is all about avoiding modern agricultural and manufacturing processes and instead going back to the basics with ancient food and old ways. It requires relearning forgotten skills. It’s about letting go of current diets and food fads and instead deciding to trust in the wisdom of our Creator.

If you’re new to real food and feel overwhelmed at the thought of switching from processed to real food, don’t get discouraged. It will take time and it will take a lot of learning of new ways and new skills.

Stay tuned to Keeper of the Home this month for direction and resources to get you started on this journey to real food and real health!

Other posts in the series:

Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Eating Better

First Steps to Real Food

Cutting Your Kitchen Prep Time in Half — Or More!

Confessions of a Formerly Picky Eater

How to Read Food Labels

The Grain Controversy: Should We Eat Them or Not?

Second Steps Towards Eating Real Foods: Switching Your Food Sources

Sweeteners: How They Affect You, Which Ones are Best, and How to Use Them

Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Pantry Staples

5 Strategies to Help Your Husband and Kids Transition to Real Food 

7 Foods to Avoid

Finding Real Food in the Grocery Store

20 Easy Real Food Switches and Substitutions {with Free Printable Chart}

First Steps to Eating for Fertility

Keeping Costs Down in a Real Food Kitchen

Raising Kids on Real Food

5 Ways to Get More Fruits & Veggies into your Diet

Food Is Not Cheap: 4 Steps to Budgeting in Real Food

Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Baked Goods

Simple Roast Chicken (And Fabulous Side Dish Recipes!)

17 Homemade Spice Mixes {with Recipes & Why You Should Use Them!}

5 Ways Green Living and Real Food are Connected

Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Soups, Sauces, and Simple Dinners

How you would define the term “real food”?