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I think it is important to realize that when beginning a real/whole/traditional food journey it does not necessarily have to be all or nothing. Even eliminating the processed junk a little at a time will help your health tremendously. Not to mention will help you adapt to the new flavors and tastes plus the additional kitchen time. This is especially helpful if you have spent very little time in your kitchen preparing meals. Let’s face it, when you are preparing all of your meals from ‘scratch’ you do some cooking! Disclaimer: some health conditions will require you to immediately quit putting junk into your body and abruptly change your foods. You need to do what is best for your particular situation. This is what has worked for our family.

I’ve mentioned several times that my family tries to follow an 85/15 ratio for foods. What this means for us is that 85% of our foods will be real/whole/traditional foods and the remaining 15% we won’t worry too much about.  We used to strive for an 80/20 ratio but decided to up it toward the end of 2011. Increasing our good to not so good ratio was a conscious step on our part to creep toward an even ‘cleaner’ diet.

What qualifies under the 85%? Here are our ‘rules’;

  • Meats: Grass Fed beef, wild game (I live in Wyoming, our game eats mainly grass and sagebrush; I understand that a concern in other areas is wild game ‘feasting’ on GMO corn), free range chickens (home grown), eggs from free range chickens (also from home), wild caught fish (salmon, cod, trout, etc), ‘organic’ chicken, beef, lamb, bison (purchased commercially)
  • Vegetables/Fruits: Fresh produce that is served raw, cooked or fermented
  • Grains/legumes: Properly prepared (soaked, sprouted or soured)
  • Broth/stock: homemade and enjoyed liberally
  • Fats: Traditional fats such as butter, coconut oil, schmaltz (chicken fat), duck, palm oil, olive oil, sesame oil, raw cream
  • Real Dairy: Milk fresh from a cow and not pasteurized or homogenized. Products made out of this real milk such as yogurt, kefir, clabber, cheeses, sour cream. Selected commercial dairy products such as Daisy Sour Cream, Tillamook cheese and other brands that do not use milk that was contaminated with growth hormones.
  • Spices, herbs and seasonings: sea salt and other spices that are not irradiated.

The following list is what we categorize under the 15%

  • Dining out
  • Sweets: Whether made at home or commercial. It’s true that a sweet treat can be made out of wonderful and properly prepared ingredients but because we try to limit sweets, we choose to keep it under the 15%
  • Items that come from a can. I do use several canned items in my kitchen. Tomatoes, tomato sauce, coconut milk, salmon, tuna and I classify all of them under the 15%. Yes, my canned salmon is from ‘wild caught’ salmon but we still limit it. I don’t necessarily think of it as a ‘bad’ product just a compromise product that we need to be conscious of.
  • Grains that are not properly prepared (soaked, soured, sprouted). On occasion I’ll make a yeast bread or other quickish item. An example: my children love dipping their bread in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. But, truthfully, sourdough is not very good with this combination. Maybe once a month I’ll make a yeast non soaked flat bread.
  • Candy bar… A few days ago my sweet husband surprised me with a candy bar. Not wanting to offend him :-), I gushed over it and then ate it. Considering that has happened maybe three times since we began this real food journey, I’m okay with it!

I do think that it is important for us since we do allow the 15% leeway, that we really make sure that we are doing everything we can to keep our guts healthy to help with any ‘bad’ stuff. We have really increased our consumption of cultured and fermented foods lately and are making a conscious effort to add these into meals and snacks. At first this was challenging for me but it becomes easier as you do it. One thing that really helped me was the final lesson to the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse. The ideas in this lesson (and the entire course) where wonderful!  We also try to have bone broth quite often. There are so many great ways to get bone broth into our diets. By doing these two things we hope that it is helping when we make our less than ideal choices.

How about you? Do you have a ‘ratio’ that you try to follow? Why or Why not?

 Photo Credit: Chiotsrun

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