This may seem like a bizarre question but think about the definition of food: “any substance eaten to provide nutritional support to the body”. Is what you are eating providing nutritional support to your mind and body? Or are your calories devoid of health promoting nutrients but high in disease promoting compounds? Some indicators the food you’re eating is not doing you any good include bloating, flatulence, constipation, diarrhoea and IBS, along with regular headaches, colds, blocked sinuses, waking up feeling groggy and skin is dry and flaky or breaks out.

So what are some of the characteristics of foods which support rather than hinder health?

It degrades: if it was alive, it should die, that is the natural order and anything we put in our mouth should eventually, of its own accord return to dust (unlike the happy meal in the pictures below…). Food left out should change shape and texture, should start to smell and/or grow mold, it should attract insects…delightful I know but an essential component of real food.

Have unique characteristics: apples taste different to cheddar cheese, fish tastes different to rice. In the same way real foods have unique textures distinguishing them from other real foods. No two apples look alike, no two carrots look alike. If you have been used to buying food from big supermarkets where the only fruit and vegetables allowed on the shelves are those which have conformed to a specific size and shape you may be surprised at the amazing variety in each plant. Variety is the spice of life and this is also true in the fruit and vegetable kingdom.

Finally, all real foods have their own smell,. The smell will also usually tell you whether or not it has gone off. Most processed vegetable oils smell nothing like the seeds they came from which tells us that any of the goodness of the seed has been removed. Most fast food smells like the restaurant it came from, not the food it is supposed to be. The happy meal in the pictures smelt of McDonald’s for about 4 years…

Happy meal bought 17th July 2012

Still looks great over 6 years later!!!

If you or your family have been eating a lot of processed foods it may take some time to re-train your taste buds to the flavours, textures and smells of real food, so take it slowly and know that each change you make is going to have a lasting beneficial impact on your health in years to come AND you will really begin to enjoy the variety in the food you are eating.