I’m a total sucker for a good acronym, and it literally is the only way I can remember stuff. Whether it’s the order of certain exercise routines, recipes, or the combination of macros for different diets, I always try and find a way to easily memorize it.
And that’s why Just Eat Real Food (JERF) is right down my alley. But beyond the easy to remember name, I actually love the concept, and I’ve worked with a lot of clients that have successfully used it for their weight loss goals.
So, let’s dive into it some more.
What is Real Food Anyway?
Basically, real food is a concept that you should only eat products as they were created by nature, without any processing, preserving or adding other chemicals to make them look and taste different.
You’ll also hear the term “whole foods” and “clean foods” used in a similar way, but personally, I prefer the concept of “real.”
If it’s in your hands the same way that nature created it, then it’s real. But if it’s in a box and has gone through an elaborate factory process, then it’s not “real” (more on the types of food shortly).
Why Eat Real Food
Let me ask you this: why NOT eat real food? Do we fuel our cars with “gas-like” products and expect them to function in the same efficient manner? Nope, it’s no different with humans; we cannot expect to “work” adequately if we are not fueling our bodies with what we were meant to eat.
We literally are what we eat, the cells of our bodies continuously regenerate themselves with the food or “food-like products” that we consume. Eat Real Food: Feel Real Good, simple yet true!
And in case you need extra convincing, following are just a few additional benefits that come from eating real food:
JERF Food List
* In order to detox & cleanse your body (and also give your digestive system a break), you may like to remove dairy products from your diet entirely during this 21-day challenge! If you do however include them into your diet, limit your serving to a minimum & make sure you get your hands on the healthiest, less processed variants available.
** Depending on your diet, you can adjust the foods that you consume (ex. removing animal & dairy if you are vegan or grains if you are following a paleo diet). No matter what your eating habits might be, you should focus on Just Eating Real Food!
*** Buy organic, seasonal & local produce when possible!
Quick Daily Menu Example
(scroll down for the full 7-day JERF Meal Plan sample)
- 1Homemade quinoa porridge with nuts and fruit
- 2Green smoothie
- 3Large mixed greens salad with fish, raw veggies and seeds
- 4Collard wrap with homemade hummus, carrots, and sprouts
- 5Grilled chicken with asparagus & sweet potato fries
Equipment, Materials, And Tools Needed
The good news is that you really don’t need much kitchen equipment to stick with JERF, as the aim is to eat food as unprocessed as possible.
Here are a few things I rely on:
JERF Meal Plan Sample Guidelines
Here are just a few really simple guidelines that will help you to get started.
1. Do you need to eat 100% real food during this 21-day challenge?
No, you don’t have to jump in at the deep end from the very start. What I recommend my clients do is that they start a few days by replacing one meal with real food. For example, on Monday you can introduce a JERF breakfast, on Tuesday a lunch, and on Wednesday a dinner.
That way, you get to experiment with the three main meals, and you can then introduce more of them each day.
2. Load up on those VEGGIES
The cheapest way to get started with the JERF challenge is to head to your local fruit and veg store and buy a load of your favorite products. Ideally, you’ll get the organic stuff as it won’t be covered in pesticides and other chemicals.
And if you have some space in your garden, then you could even start growing your own veggies. It’s the cheapest way to get your hands on organic food.
3. Don’t be afraid of fat
The whole concept of fat being an evil macro that you should avoid at all costs is starting to change a lot. I’m not saying you should load your plate with deep fried crap, but don’t be too cautious, especially with all the healthy fats that can be found in plants and meat.
4. Skip the sauce
As delicious as all the different sauces are, they are mostly laced with sugars and highly processed oils and fats. Unless you make them from scratch using just natural ingredients and nothing crappy, it’s best to avoid them, especially the store-bought stuff in bottles.
1. Combine “Real Food” with a regular exercise routine
This might seem like an obvious tip coming from a fitness coach, but I do think it’s important to really get maximum value from the JERF challenge.
You don’t need to head for the gym or go to CrossFit classes every day. But if you factor in a daily 20-minute walk or short run, then you will start feeling a lot healthier much sooner.
2. Change your mindset; change your results!
The whole idea with this challenge is to get you thinking differently about the food you eat. Rather than telling you to go hungry for long parts of the day and ending up feeling miserable, JERF is more about changing your attitude and to get you into the habit of only eating real foods.
And once the habits have formed, you’ll see that the results will follow.
3. Read your labels
You should also get into the habit of always checking the label for what a package contains. Here’s the rule I always use: if I cannot pronounce the ingredients, then it goes back on the shelf.
So, if you see stuff that would be more at home in a chemistry lab, e.g., sodium sulfite and propyl paraben, then it should not be heading for your stomach.
4. Stay on the outer aisles of the grocery store
Have you ever noticed that fresh fruit, veg, herbs, meat, and fish are always on the outer areas of your grocery store?
To really dive into this challenge, there should be no reason to start heading for the shelves at the center, as this is where things become more and more processed.
All the food you should be buying should be raw and as nature provides it. But not all food is edible in raw form, so you’ll need to do some cooking. However, you won’t need specialty chef training to create some delicious meals and snacks.
With just a couple of tools listed above, you can do all the preparing and cooking you need.
6. Keep your pantry and freezer stocked
There is this common misconception out there that real or whole foods are very expensive and that you’ll struggle with your budget. However, if you look out for special offers, then you can quickly stock up on certified organic food and simply freeze it.
And head to local farmers markets where you can get excellent quality for a very low price.
7. Emotional Eaters
Eating to deal with emotional issues is incredibly common and can become a serious issue. For most morbidly obese people, there is some sort of emotional crutch that is found in eating food.
But even the occasional chocolate bar and fried food habits can be broken by replacing them with tasty real foods.
8. And finally… RELAX
JERF is a really simple concept, so don’t overthink it. It’s about creating a new relationship with food as nature intended it to be.
Why not join us today on the 21-day JERF challenge and start posting about your experience on our Facebook page.
I’ve seen people turn around their lives with such a simple concept, so there really is no reason not to give it a try.