Have you heard of JERF?

Guest post by our Elements Dietitian – Dr William Cook


JERF, or to give it its full name ‘Just Eat Real Food’, is a new and growing food movement.  The philosophy behind JERF is simple and goes beyond labelling what you eat as a ‘special’ diet. In many ways JERF is an anti-diet and embraces the growing wellness trend and helps unite people’s desire to eat not only for enjoyment but also good health.  JERF is not about cutting out calories, sugar, fat, gluten, dairy or following the latest fad diet but rather focussing on eating real food made using quality ingredients and avoiding processed or pre-packaged foods (if food comes pre-packed it should contain whole food ingredients only).

Dr Aseem Malhotra, Consultant Cardiologist who is leading a campaign against excessive sugar consumption recently said at a conference, “Any (pre-packaged) foods that are marketed as ‘healthy’ are not good for you”.  Whilst this statement may be stretching the truth slightly, it can be argued that many foods that are marketed as being healthy/light/diet etc provide little in the way of positive nutrition and leave us unsatisfied and looking for the next meal or snack.  Keeping things as simple as possible, we should be looking to pack as many nutrients into each calorie we eat- a term known as nutrient density.  JERF embraces this philosophy and allows us to feed our bodies and leave us feeling satisfied and not reaching for that packet of ‘baddies’ later in the afternoon!

JERFing does not need to be time consuming or expensive.  Some JERF top tips include:

  • Keep it simple. You don’t need to buy the latest trendy superfood or ingredients.  Go back to basics and use traditional vegetables and wholegrains.
  • Love imperfect fruit and vegetables. Many supermarkets are now selling ‘ugly’ fruit and veg cheaply and whilst they may not look as pretty as their perfectly formed cousins, nutritionally they are exactly the same!
  • Buy in season. We may be able to get every ingredient all year around but this comes at a cost.  Often when foods are out of season they are more expensive.  Try to eat with the seasons when foods are more easily available and kinder on your pocket.
  • Shop the perimeter. When shopping in the supermarket you can save time (and money) shopping in the outer sections of the store alone.  Most of the food you need- fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy- can be found around the perimeter.  You can also try shopping at local markets instead of big supermarkets.
  • Be organised. Without wanting to nag, write a list and stick to it! Make sure you only buy what you need when you go to the shops (and also don’t forget what you actually went for!).  Don’t even think about going food shopping on an empty stomach!

Dr Will


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