I am a huge fan of Michael Mackenzie’s First Bite show on ABC Radio National. I often tune in to be taken on a culinary journey. I enjoy Michael’s genuine interest in food and beverages and find him to be a fantastic interviewer and story teller. You can imagine my delight when I learned that this week’s show was titled: Taking the ‘real food’ challenge.

The segment featured American Lisa Leake who created the blog 100 Days of Real Food after taking her family on a total transformation diet. Before being introduced to (one of my favourite authors) Michael Pollan, she was a consumer of the Standard Western Diet. Unknowing filling herself and her family up on a diet high in processed foods laden with artificial sweeteners, colours and preservatives. Three years on and Lisa and her adorable family are the poster family for healthy living. The blog is a huge success and it has provided the income for her family.

You can listen to the programme online here.

I applaud Michael Mackenzie for featuring this story and look forward to hearing the results of his own personal week long ‘Real Food Challenge’, one he also encourages his readers to take.

What a pity they decided to include an interview with nutritionist Catherine Saxelby. I was very disappointed that her opening remarks suggested that eating a “real food” diet is not realistic and that including processed foods in 20% of your diet was more achievable.

Catherine… shouldn’t we being trying to encourage this positive initiative rather than discourage listeners before they have even begun? Please give us some credit. It is easy to find healthy and whole food snacks. There are many much better options you could have suggested rather than Anzac biscuits or a home baked slice.

Michael… congratulations again on another interesting show and I look forward to hearing your experience on trying out your own “read food” challenge.

THE RULES FOR YOUR OWN REAL FOOD CHALLENGE (thanks to Lisa Leake):

What you CAN eat (reproduced here from the 100 Days of Real Food blog and adjusted slightly by Radio National for Australian consumers):

Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry (organic where possible)
Lots of fruits and vegetables (we recommend that you shop for these at your local farmers’ market
Dairy products like milk, unsweetened yogurt, eggs and cheese
100% whole-wheat and whole-grains
Seafood (wild caught is the optimal choice over farm-raised).
Where possible choose free-range meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (preferably in moderation)
Beverages limited to water, milk all natural juices, coffee & tea and to help the adults keep their sanity, wine and beer!
Snacks like dried fruit, seeds, nuts and popcorn
All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and fruit juice concentrates are acceptable in moderation (Editor’s note: yes, yes I know many of you will shout “But Sugar IS a Natural product!”. We didn’t write these rules.)

What you CANNOT eat:

No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat…not just “wheat”)
No refined sweeteners such as sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or the artificial sweeteners
Nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than five ingredients listed on the label
No deep fried foods
No “fast foods”
Minimize trans fat (additional RN First Bite rule).