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JERF FOOD: What's Real and What's Not

You may have heard of the acronym before, but if not, let me explain. 'JERF' stands for 'Just Eat Real Food.' It's a movement that encourages us to move away from highly processed foods and toward more wholesome foods. Like what is found in nature.

However, if we were to take a fine toothed comb to our diet, most of the foods we eat are gonna be processed in one way or another. "Somebody" has to pick the orange from the tree, our steaks gets cut from a cow (and typically cooked). Even milk gets separated from the cream.

This 'process' is not exactly what I mean by 'processing.' Mechanical processing like putting something into a jar is much different than chemical processing. If we mechanically process something it's still real food.

Chemical processing combines lots of substances to create "food." Things like...

  • artificial colors, dyes

  • refined ingredients (wheat, soy)

  • low-quality oils (vegetable, soy, canola, cottonseed)

  • margarine

  • just take a look at the ingredient lists of most packaged goods

Eating well means eating as much real, single ingredient foods as often as you can. Mix and match those foods to your heart's content. After all, some of the best meals are often the simple ones. And, if your culinary tastes are more daring, just avoid trying recipes that call for highly processed ingredients.

For this post, I'd like to get a bit more specific and discuss proteins, in order to help you separate the protein that is real from the protein that is processed.

Real protein is going to be food with nothing more than a little salt added to it.

Examples of real protein:

  • Fish & Seafood

  • Lean cuts of beef, poultry, lamb, pork

  • Plain yogurt (no added sugars)

  • Whey protein (without any added artificial anything, stevia is ok)

  • Eggs

  • Legumes

To highlight how one food can have both compliant and non-compliant options let's take a look at yogurt. Option one is a great choice where option two gets a little sketchy. Notice the length of the ingredient lists and also the amounts of sugar and protein.

Option 1 (good choice):

Option 2 (poor choice):

Did you notice that option one had half the amount of sugar and twice the amount of protein?

Processed Meats:

Here are some examples of processed proteins (meats) you are going to want to stay away from:

  • hot dogs

  • ham / bacon

  • sausages

  • corned beef

  • beef jerky

  • canned meat

  • pastrami

  • bologna

  • salami

  • pepperoni

Also, I suggest staying away from soy, unless it has been fermented like tempeh or natto and not combined with other not so stellar ingredients.

If you need some additional convincing here's a great article: "9 ways processed foods are killing people" from a reputable site called Medical News Today...

The moral of the story is...... Just Eat Real Food.

If it comes in a package with an especially long ingredient list, beware. It most likely it's not real food.

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