Sarah Adler is an entrepreneur and real food expert, who wants you to know that you can benefit from a real food diet with patience and careful attention.

Read on for more from Sarah, and to listen to this episode of the Feel Good Effect podcast about why real food is better than a pre-planned diet, and why it’s so important to have a good relationship with food.

How to Thrive with Real Food (and Ditch the Calorie Struggle for Good)

In this week’s episode we chat with Sarah Adler, founder of Simply Real Health, about why real food works for everyone and how to have a good relationship with food. She walks us through how to know your body and how to make the shift.

On how food being “good” or “bad” has changed for her:

Being in the food industry comes from a story, this is Sarah’s:

As a child she was obsessed with healthy eating, growing up in a healthy home where healthy eating was talked about frequently and positively.  

She became obsessed with it as she went into middle and high school, reading nutrition textbooks and diet books for fun, working out all the time; she was actively trying to be healthy but had no stop button.

In her reading, however, she found that there are endless things to learn about health and wellness, many of which conflict with each other.

She tested out various diets, and as she got older, found herself becoming anxious about going out or to social events where her “healthy foods” might be scarce.

“It never turned into an eating disorder, but it was a very disordered way of looking at food.”

In college, Sarah’s healthy eating became motivated by body image, too.

After finding herself on a trip to Italy, she noticed that although her “healthy snacks” weren’t as accessible abroad, the Italian women she observed were really present, happy, and fully engaged with the people they were with.  

She noticed that they were calm around their food, even though it wasn’t the healthy eating she was used to.

There was no worry about what workout would need to follow, no picking at the meal, no punishing themselves.

This was Sarah’s turning point:

“Everything that I had learned up until that point, everything that I had been pouring over and learning over these books and theories and diets… that I realized that none of that mattered if you didn’t have a good relationship to food as well”.

This turning point led to a changed relationship to food; she began asking herself:

Is it a real food?

Is it one ingredient?

Is it something that has existed for thousands of years?

If so, then it’s real food and my body can deal with it better.

Sarah went from viewing healthy food as diet food to healthy food being real food.

On a relationship with food:

Healthy eating is not always about focusing on the what to eat (eat this, don’t eat that), but the healthy relationship with food (joy, micro mindfulness).

Food is so much a part of our daily lives, culture, and celebration.

We tend to learn about foods in “yes foods” and “no foods”, “eat this” but “don’t eat that”, try this fad“, etc.

But the way food is so integrated into our lives, something will always come up (events, celebrations, gatherings…)

“Trying to live healthy… on a diet is black and white, but real life is the land of grey”

Our relationship to food tends to have a cycle of extremes:

When we diet and feel really good, we might feel like it’s okay to indulge a little.  

When we indulge too much and start to slack, we begin to feel badly and start to diet again.

What to do: find a middle ground that allows you to feel good and enjoy meaningful things.

How to do it: get rid of clutter!  Declutter by asking yourself…

  1. What do you get the most enjoyment from?

  2. What do you not care about?

On what’s “right” and real food:

Many have expressed feeling overwhelmed by all the diet options to integrate into healthy eating, struggling to find what’s “right” among all the conflicting information available.

Real food is about finding what works for your body.

Making the shift to real food:

  1. Be physically stable: transition to real food. Look for minimal, quality ingredients that you recognize. Swap + upgrade.

  2. Know how you feel: experiment with foods, be intentional and shut off autopilot. Everyone is different– figure out what works for you.

Real food is better all around; make it your first step, versus adopting a restrictive diet.

Intentionally integrate real food for a lifestyle change, even though it might take more thought, awareness, and self-connection than a pre-planned diet.

Invest the time.

It’s not just about the food- there are mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects to living a healthy life.

When it comes to indulgences, ask yourself: does it really bring me joy or am I indulging simply because it’s there?

When it comes to real food, think 5-ingredients or less.

If there are too many more than 5 ingredients, or ingredients you don’t understand, make a swap for something else.

What doesn’t matter: the nutrition label- calories, fiber, sugar, etc. (unless you have health restrictions to consider)

What does matter: are these foods my body will know how to process and use?

Be aware of what you eat and how it makes you feel, and then, move into eating what brings you joy and what makes you feel good.

Consider what you’re eating and when you’re eating it; notice how the combination affects you.

This transition takes time- expect to give yourself a week before seeing results.

Note: “Transitioning to real food and a real food lifestyle and a sustainable lifestyle is not the quick fix… it is taking a little more time on purpose because the changes that are happening are hopefully going to be ones that stick with you for a really long time”

On finding what works for you:

Be aware that everyone has individual differences.

Diet trends may be a good fit for some people, but just because it worked for someone else (think instagram influencers), it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be as effective for another person.

Sarah’s experience on finding what worked for her: she cut out gluten entirely and after three months noticed significant results.

“Our bodies are always tending towards health… they will tell us when things are off”.

She noticed that her body reacted negatively to gluten and integrated a gluten-free diet into her life.

However, she is still aware of what is naturally gluten-free real food versus what is gluten-free and heavily processed with a list of ingredients.

Test and experiment what works for you to understand it.  

Be a good partner to your body.

Sarah’s advice: learn about what real food is and what it’s not, develop a filter to tell what is real food, learn the intricate details of it.

Find Sarah’s resources below.

What’s next: cookbook two is in the works

**If you love Real Food Whole Life, you’ll love Simply Real Health

On what it really means to be healthy:

“Being healthy means in-tune with yourself, of who you are, of who you want to be, of how you thrive best, of the things that you want to create in your life.

I think that it requires being grounded and calm and really present in who you are and what you’re doing”


Take the Quiz! Wellness Personality Quiz

Catch up on past Feel Good Effect Podcast episodes here.

More on Sarah’s blog

Simply Real Cookbook

Check out Sarah’s Food Academy to learn more about real food.

Guest Information

Sarah Adler is a lady-boss entrepreneur of Simply Real Health: a healthy lifestyle company, food blog, cookbook and brand on a serious mission to help busy people live healthier and more inspired lives, made simple.

Simple as in—philosophy (real food), recipes (all with 5 ingredients or less, 10-15 minutes or less) and easy (totally doable in real life). All with the mission of helping people creating better relationships to food, an #antidiet life that lasts, and a more joyful, fulfilling life because of it.


Instagram: @simplyrealhealth

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