5 Real Food Rules to Embrace for Better Health

Last updated February 26, 2024

Food. We all eat it, love it, and perhaps even follow a food account or two on social media. Since working from home (read eating from home) is here to stay, we need to shift our focus to promote a healthier eating style.

While we all love to indulge in the yumminess of food, there’s also the desire to live a fit and healthy lifestyle. Here are five food rules to follow for better health.

1. Eat Real Food

It’s just that simple: eat real food. Avoid processed or canned food when possible. Canned foods have preservatives that leave negative lasting effects. 

How do you know if it’s real food? When ordering food or buying produce, ask yourself the following: 

  • Was it ever alive? 
  • Did it grow? 
  • Did it encounter dirt?
  • Can you picture it outside in nature? 

If you can answer yes to any or all of these questions, it’s probably real food. 

Anything that is not real food is defined as an “edible food-like substance,” and is most certainly made up of modified forms of corn, soy, fructose and a mixture of chemicals designed to make it aesthetically pleasing. 

2. Eat Real Food Slowly and to 80% Full

Everything you eat, from cucumbers to cookies, should be consumed at the same pace: slowly.

Eating at a slow pace means chewing each bite 10-20 times and swallowing what’s in your mouth before inserting another spoonful. I’d recommend setting your fork down in between bites to breathe and converse. 

Doing this allows you to enjoy your food more! Our tongues have 10,000 taste buds and we should take the time to savor every bite. 

When we eat fast, we also tend to overeat. It takes 20 minutes for our brain to realize our stomach is satisfied, so give your brain time to process so you don’t overstuff! 

3. Be Aware of Foods that Make Health Claims

Picture yourself at the meat counter at the grocery store. You rarely see labels that say “excellent source of protein” or “no added sugars.”

If you ever see these labels, be cautious of what you’re buying. It’s probably loaded with chemicals and preservatives and should be avoided.

The reality is, real foods do not need these labels to compensate for their health. Real, nutritious foods do not have filters or chemicals. 

Every time you see a health claim on a box or bag, second-guess your purchase of it and truly consider what you are ingesting into your body. 

4.  If You Can Drive Through it, Drive By It

The convenience of drive through is nice, but the consequences are not so nice. The lasting effects of eating fast foods may lead to joints ache, chronic diseases or even worse. 

Anywhere you can drive through to get calories to go breaks our first rule—eat real food. Chances are, the food that you’re devouring is highly processed, frozen, and are filled with preservatives that last for years.

Although we live busy lives, that is no excuse to eat poorly through drive throughs on a regular basis. Eating real food needs to be prioritized. 

You can start by meal prepping and shopping in the healthier section of the grocery store. 

5. Avoid Only Counting the Calories

Allow me to explain. One serving of almonds is about 160 calories. One serving of gummy worms is about 140 calories. 

By just counting calories, I should be eating more gummy worms and less almonds, right?


Just like dating used to be, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. 

Those gummy worms filled with liquified sugar will just leave me thirsty, even more hungry, and probably a little more moody. 

Whereas, 160 calories of fiber, fat and protein inside the almonds will make my body work to digest and leave me more satisfied.

Next time you find yourself counting calories in your meals, think again. It’s the nutrients inside that food that matters more than just the number of calories.

By embodying these five rules to live by, you are striving for realistic changes that align your desires with your daily routines. Try living by these five food rules for a week and see how you feel. Notice your physical body, your emotions and your mental capacities. 

About the author: Leanna West is the Co-Owner/Fitness + Nutrition Director at Centered Fitness Retreat. Centered Fitness exists to empower you to live a healthy and authentic life through private wellness retreats.

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