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10 Reasons I Loved 100 Days of Real Food

100 Days of Real Food

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’ve recently made some fairly significant changes to my diet.

Scratch that. The “I quit sugar” thing qualifies more in the CRAZY, RADICAL category for me.

I’ve always eaten fairly healthfully, having grown up with a mom who valued healthy living and taught us to love whole grains, real butter, and big salads. (Truth: we basically never bought white bread unless we were making croutons or feeding the ducks and I don’t recall a time we ever bought margarine. Yes, she was pretty hard core when it came to health!)

My husband wasn’t so keen on health food when we got married. In fact, he was more keen on McDonald’s and Vanilla Coke. 😉

During our lean law school years, I just did the best I could do with the small budget we had while also making sure the food I cooked was stuff Jesse would actually eat. We didn’t eat terribly unhealthy, but I knew it could be improved upon.

As our financial situation bettered and my husband started becoming more interested in fitness, we’ve slowly made small changes in our diet. First, we eliminated artificial dyes. Next, it was corn syrup. Then, we stopped cooking with anything but olive oil, coconut oil, and butter. And then we stopped buying bleached flour and refined sugar.

This journey has been years in the making, but as we’ve made slow and steady changes, it’s not felt too drastic or difficult. So I think that’s why eliminating sugar and most gluten from my diet didn’t feel as CRAZY, RADICAL as I thought it would.

Yes, I have salivated as I’ve passed the doughnut shop and I have given in and eaten dessert a few times in the past three months, but for the most part, switching the way I eat hasn’t been painful.

You know what else? I’ve noticed that once I stripped out sugar and processed stuff and ate real, fresh foods, some cool things have happened. For instance:

  • I savor my food more.
  • I’m getting fewer headaches.
  • I’m struggling less with my sinuses and allergies.
  • I’ve lost a few pounds that had crept on in the last year.
  • I’ve seen an improvement in my skin issues.
  • I feel more energetic.
  • I’ve stopped craving empty carbs and sugar (well, most of the time!).
  • I need less sleep.
  • I notice flavors that I never paid attention to before.
  • My nails are stronger and can actually grow without breaking (well, it probably helps that I’ve mostly stopped biting them, too!)
  • And even if I go a few days without getting enough sleep, I’m not at all as worn down as I would have been six months ago.

Yes, my experiment in dietary changes has paid off in much bigger dividends than I ever imagined. And the unexpected results are making me think this is going to be a lifelong lifestyle change not just a temporary experiment!

100 Days of Real Food

All this to say, I was really excited to read 100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake. I’ve watched her grow her blog over the past few years and have been so inspired by her family.

As I expected I loved the book. Here were 10 reasons I especially found it helpful:

1. It Feels Doable & Realistic

Truth be told, I was leery of starting this book because I was afraid I was going to be barraged with a lot of new information on why we needed to majorly overhaul our eating choices. Instead of guilt, I found the book dripping with grace… encouraging you to do the best you can, to not stress over treats and occasional cheats, and to figure out what works best for your family.

2. It Is Honest

Lisa readily admits that she tried making homemade versions of things like ketchup and mayo and didn’t like them at all. Instead, they’ve just chosen to not eat them very often (she says they eat mayo about once a month). I loved her honesty throughout the book.

3. It Gives You Step-By-Step Plans & Shopping Lists

If the idea of switching to more real foods feels daunting, you’ll love the step-by-step suggestions of how to make gradual changes that this book offers. You’ll probably also love that there are menu plans and shopping lists to help you get started, too.

100 Days of Real Food

4. It’s Packed With Real-Life Advice

Lisa doesn’t hold herself up as someone who has it all figured out. She’s right there learning and experimenting with you. I loved the pictures of her family sprinkled throughout the book, as well as her examples from their family on what worked and didn’t work.

5. It Has Loads of Lunchbox Ideas

If you pack a lot of lunches, you’ll find the lunchbox recipes, tips, and suggestions very helpful. I loved that this was a big part of the book, as I think probably this is an area that many families could use a lot of inspiration in — especially if you’re trying to pack healthful and wholesome lunches.

6. It Addresses the Inevitable Struggles

Making lifestyle changes is always a challenge and this book recognizes that from the get-go. If you’re feeling hesitant about taking the plunge or wondering if it will really work for your family, you’ll get a lot of encouragement here in your journey.

7. It Provides Lots of Delicious-Looking Recipes

The recipes are very down-to-earth, don’t have a lot of weird ingredients, and almost every single one of them looked very yummy. Score!

100 Days of Real Food

8. It Has Great Photos In It

If you’re going to write a book with lots of recipes, full-color photography is one of the best assets for your book. And 100 Days of Real Food does a fantastic job when it comes to photography. Not only is the food photography well done, but the pictures of real-life stuff make the book seem to come alive and make it more relatable.

9. It Shares Creative Tips on Dealing With Picky Eaters

One of the biggest fears a lot of parents might have with the concept of eating more real foods is that your children and spouse won’t be on board with it. This book spends a good amount of time giving you suggestions and ideas for how to address the picky and reluctant eaters.

10. It Gives Encouragement For How to Eat Well on a Budget

And finally, I loved that 100 Days of Real Food addresses how to eat well on a budget. Now, mind you, switching to more real foods is almost guaranteed to cause some increase in your budget. But Lisa encourages you that it doesn’t have to be a dramatic increase.

All in all, I found 100 Days of Real Food to be a very valuable book. I’m eager to try out some of the recipes and have a feeling I will be referring to it for my own family over and over again.

Want Step-By-Step Help To Start Eating Healthier?

Looking for more ideas, practical tips, recipes, and step-by-step help to live a healthy lifestyle? Through December 30, 2014 only, you can get The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle for just $29.97. This Bundle is packed with ebooks, e-courses, and some cool free bonuses.

Here’s a sampling of what you’ll get for just $29.97:

And much, much more! See all the contents of this bundle here (it’s over $1,000 value!).

Go grab your copy before the sale ends!

P.S. Lisa just emailed me today to let me know that she just found out that her book hit the New York Times list and will debut in the #2 spot for this week! That’s INCREDIBLE and I am just so very thrilled for her — especially because it makes me so happy to see a fellow blogger’s success!

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  • Sarah says:

    I think I’ve told you before, but it deserves saying again, “HOORAY, CONGRATULATIONS, YIPPEEE, WOOT WOOT, YOU DID IT, HALLELUJAH, PRAISE THE LORD AND PASS THE SAUCE!”

    Crystal, I am so pleased to see your transformation in this area. Of course I want YOU to reap the benefits, but I am honestly so much more excited for your precious children. So many of us have had to un-learn very poor dietary habits, fight cravings for foods that brought us “comfort” but were bad for us and much more. Your children, with your help and Godly influence, will not have to fight these same battles when they are older and won’t have bad habits ingrained in them. KUDOS to you and to Jesse for being on board. Your Mom must be very pleased as well.

    Having said all that, if you “fall off the wagon” or have a “bad treat” now and then, we’ll all understand (as we’ve done it too)!!

  • Alicia says:

    I am needing to do something like this. Any tips for doing with plus dealing with if you have to eat out here and there?

    Thanks so much!!


    • Mrs. S says:

      As someone who travels a bit, and spends some long days at the hospital-eating out can be a challenge if you are looking for what society tells us is a “meal” (i.e. burger and fries). I look for things like a grilled chicken sandwich without the bread, baked potatoes, fruit cups, boiled eggs, fresh fruit, etc… If at all possible I try to stop at a market (grocery store) and purchase boiled eggs, a banana/fruit, and sometimes deli meat- it usually a lot cheaper than a restaurant too. (Deli counters almost always have forks out, and will usually give you one of their serving plates/to-go boxes if you ask.)

      • I’ve found that most restaurants have at least a few healthy options on the menu: for breakfast I’ll do eggs or oatmeal and some fruit. For lunch and dinner, salad greens with grilled chicken, or a burger with no bun and steamed veggies. I can usually find at least a few options that work well.

  • Jody Bullard says:

    This book looks good! I like the benefits you listed from your eating changes…definitely motivating me!

    I was wondering if the homemade energy bites are part of the new way you are eating? We recently started making them and love them and are using them as a way to get us more on the right track…what are your thoughts on them as being healthy? I’m wanting to make some serious changes in my health and am encouraged by your sharing!

    • I’m so glad you love the Energy Bites! I’m not eating them anymore myself (though my kids still do) because they aren’t in line with THM guidelines.

      They are packed with yummy goodness and, if they are helping your family to move more toward eating healthfully, I say go for it! I’m all about making small changes at a time and doing what works best for you and your family.

  • Lana says:

    Some interesting facts that I learned when I trained in natural/alternative healthcare. When you eliminate sugar you stop feeding the bacteria in the body. This results in increased energy and better sleep because you have less active bacteria. Also, if you have an overgrowth of bacteria in specific areas of the body and eliminate sugar those parts of the body will naturally feel better because you have decreased the bacteria. You will not see such a huge improvement when eliminating sugar if you do not have a bacteria problem to begin with.

    • Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!

    • Chris says:

      I think you refer to candida species in particular. They love me and other members of my family and my doctor’s advice was to avoid (refined) sugar wherever I could because these bacteriae need sugar in order to grow. I can definitely say that my skin problems got better when I started to reduce my sugar intake.

      • Lana says:

        Yes, that definitely is one of them but all bacteria feeds on sugars. Most everyone has an overgrowth of bacteria of some type in the body. I battled candida and it made me ill for over 20 years so I can surely relate. I am blessed to be free of it now.

  • Jacki says:

    Congratulations on eating better. I am with you on giving up sugar and other habit forming foods. We have pared back our snacks and have limited our sugar to very few foods. My doctor said that eating sugar was feeding my yeast problem. I have stopped sugar and the yeast problems have eased up. (it’s medicine related) I also have cut out gluten and milk for personal health issues. It dropped my inflammation levels greatly.

  • Jacki says:

    Congratulations on eating better. I am with you on giving up sugar and other habit forming foods. We have pared back our snacks and have limited our sugar to very few foods. My doctor said that eating sugar was feeding my yeast problem. I have stopped sugar and the yeast problems have eased up. (it’s medicine related) I also have cut out gluten and milk for personal health issues. It dropped my inflammation levels greatly.

  • Annie says:

    I preordered Lisa’s book, and have read it front to back. I’ve also made a couple of the recipes: banana pancakes, tomato bisque, and the best pulled pork. I would love to make a full commitment to eating healthier, but I simply do not have my family’s support. Any ideas to get them on board? I just don’t have it in me to make separate meals every night.

    • I love the ideas and suggestions Lisa had in her book for this. I’d recommend re-reading through those and trying them out. And also make the changes really slowly… one or two things at a time. That’s worked well for us.

  • Chelsea says:

    I love 100 Days of Real Food! Her blog has been such an inspiration to me. I entered to win the cookbook- which I’ve been ooohhing and ahhhing over since I saw it was coming out. 🙂 P.S.- I really like the instagram giveaway option! It was really easy to enter and changed things up a bit. 🙂 Thank you!

  • I totally agree… Since going off of gluten over a year ago (still on sugar but that is a big step for me), I have been much healthier with fewer colds and I haven’t had any of the sinus infections I used to suffer with.

  • Jessica says:

    I don’t agree with a lot of this. Unless you or your kids (speaking hypothetically) have a diagnosed medical problem, completely eliminating gluten and dairy seems extreme. I can see it causing problems down the road. Do they not say to not completely avoid giving babies certain fruits, vegetables, or when they’re a bit older, nuts, because it could cause an even worse reaction when they finally try it for the first time? It seems to be the same with milk and wheat to me. And I don’t agree with completely cutting out sugar just so the next time you have a little bit, it makes you sick and tastes horrible.

    • Just to clarify, I’m not completely eliminating gluten, just mostly and I feel a lot better. However, I still eat a lot of other carbs and whole grains (just had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast!). And I’m not eliminating dairy at all.

      The book doesn’t encourage either of these things… it just encourages people to focus on eating real food instead of processed stuff. These are choices I’m personally making based upon dietary changes I’ve experimented with and are finding seem to be working well for me personally. My family is still eating gluten and some sugar.

      Believe it or not, the few times I’ve had sugar in the past few months, I haven’t gotten sick — which I’m grateful for!

      I just wanted to clarify so you’d know that I personally am not advocating that everyone do exactly what I do, just sharing what has worked for me and encouraging people to consider reading 100 Days of Real Food (either the book and/or the blog) for inspiration.

      If you feel great and are happy with your current dietary lifestyle, keep at it!

  • Priscilla says:

    I haven’t checked out Lisa’s book yet but from skimming through her website, I noticed some recipes call for whole wheat flour and canola or vegetable oil. If you truly want a clean diet free of all gluten, grain, processed or refined junk and yucky oils, I recommend the website and book Against All Grain by Danielle Walker. You can eat wholesome cookies without all the refined and processed junk.

  • MB says:

    Thank you for your previous post (back in July) when you were a guest blogger for 100 Days of Real Food. It has since been an inspiration to me, and I am gradually working on better eating habits. I am thrilled that Lisa Leake is coming to Winston-Salem, NC and I have the opportunity to meet her and get a copy of her book! I few months ago I was not familiar with Lisa or her blog. I really appreciate the wealth of information that you impart for the benefit of your readers!

  • Sally says:

    This book looks great! Eating real food is exactly what I stress as well, because what we eat absolutely affects the way we look and feel. I’m excited to check it out!

  • My husband has always had a lot of sinus issues and I have been thinking maybe cutting out gluten could help him. I don’t k ow if its worth cutting out gluten entirely from our house or just trying not to make meals with gluten. My picky 4 year old lives off of pbj on whole wheat so I can imagine cutting gluten out of all of diets.

  • Liz says:

    Thank you for this blog – definitely going to check out the book!

  • Lisa says:

    I would really enjoy seeing your menus, especially snacks and drinks for a few weeks. We are trying to eat healthier, but are not in any way eating as healthy as you!

  • Shay says:

    This is something I know we NEED to do. Chad has headaches and tummy issues and we know its because of gluten and so much processed stuff that we are eating.

    I think we might start small too and chip away at the unhealthy foods bit by bit. So happy to see your success 🙂 I can’t wait to read and see the recipes in her book!

  • Jess says:

    This book looks great! My food transformation is the result of the Trim Healthy Mama book but this one looks awesome too.

  • Jamie says:

    This looks great- I really struggle with finding snacks that my picky children will eat but would love to eat healthier!

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