Note from Emma: I’m so excited to announce the fourth Generation Real Food Interview here at Real Food Renegades! Switching to a real food lifestyle provides lasting health and nourishment, but it can seem daunting at first, especially as a young person or a family with children. The truth is that there is no one diet that will work for everyone – it’s all about finding what works best for you. Our goal with this series is to encourage you in your journey, promote a holistic, balanced lifestyle, and show that though we may seem hidden, there are lots of young people like us hoping to inspire change in our own lives and the greater community!

I’m so happy to have May Ly here for the first Generation Real Food Interview from the perspective of a parent with young children. It’s amazing to hear from so many young people who have changed their lives and health with real food, but it’s great to have a family perspective too, especially as plenty of parents struggle with ensuring their kids eat a healthy, nourishing diet. May is one of the greatest inspirations for me as a mother who really cares about her kids’ wellbeing and an expert fermenter! She has tons of easy recipes on her blog for fermented, gut-health goodies that are just so beautifully photographed, and wonderful advice for parents that you’ll get to read below! Make sure to check out her blog, Love Ur Belly, and follow her on Instagram to keep up with her delicious eats. 

Tell us about yourself and your lifestyle!

I am a mother of 3, born in Saigon, raised in Australia now living back in Vietnam. I grew up around food being the focus for our family and social gatherings, broths and lots of fermented foods were just part of our diet . It’s funny how I returned to all these childhood foods after our doctor introduced the Paleo diet and fermented foods to me to heal and assist with the various health issues my children and I were facing. We follow a mostly grain free and dairy free diet most of the time at home. My 8yo is following the GAPS diet while I am following the Autoimmune protocol. Diet and lifestyle has been key to overcoming many of our health issues and I am a firm believer in using food as medicine, every mouthful should benefit your body in some way. 


How do you define “real food”? What does it look like for you and your family?

Real food doesn’t come with a list of ingredients, real food to us is usually in it’s original state. All of my recipes are based on whole real foods that are nutrient dense in combination with probiotic rich fermented vegetables, kombucha and kefir. Each ingredient I use has a list of nutritional benefits on their own and I usually try and add a superfood ingredient to maximise the benefit of each meal. Our meals usually contain a portion of protein, good fat, lots of colourful vegetables, herbs, spices and something fermented. 

How did you discover the “real food” way of eating?

After my 3 pregnancies I was at high risk of developing diabetes so my Doctor put me on to the Paleo diet about 5 years ago. My then 3 yo was also battling a recurrent clostridium difficile infection and that was where we were introduced to making our own fermented vegetables and beverages. After a few months, I was completely convinced this was the way to real health. 


Was it difficult to change your family’s diet?

It was daunting at first and sometimes overwhelming but I found it easiest to start with just replacing one meal first so we replaced breakfasts, which made it easy because breakfast foods can also be eaten all day. It was also hard to break the habit of buying convenience packaged foods especially for the kids’ school snacks. Over time it became easier and now I cannot imagine going back to our old ways of eating and choosing foods.

What benefits have you noticed in yourself and your family from getting back to basics and eating fresh, whole foods?

Within the first 2 months we noticed a huge difference. My hypoglycaemia dissappeared, I learnt how to feel real hunger again instead of feeling sick and having to eat every 2 hours. I had more energy and lost some extra weight I had put on after the children. My son’s recurrent clostridium difficile finally cleared and we noticed the children picked up less bugs and if they did, they overcame them much quicker. They also behaved much better with less melt downs. 

What are some staples that are must-haves for you?

Various sources of protein (beef, chicken, pork, eggs and bones for broth), jars of home made fermented vegetables (which we eat at every meal), kombucha or kefir (consumed daily), fresh vegetables that are long lasting like carrot, cucumber, cauliflower, broccoli & cabbage. In the pantry a variety of spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic and onion powder. Olive and coconut oil, coconut aminos or gluten free tamari. Coconut & almond flour, dates for baking treats. 

Do you have any advice for families with kids for thriving on a real foods lifestyle?

Introduce fermented foods early! If it’s difficult you can just start with one strand of fermented vegetables especially for children who don’t like to eat any colours or are restricted with the types of vegetables they eat. Repopulating the gut with the right healthy bacteria helps overcome carb (bread, pasta etc) and sugar cravings. Don’t buy foods you don’t want the family eating. Stick to the outside aisles at the supermarket to avoid temptations, have healthy treats in the freezer and cooked protein for emergencies. Being prepared really helps, I like to spend the weekend prepping for my week, sometimes that’s not possible so cooking extra at dinner time helps to have leftovers the next day. Involve the children in learning about why we eat and don’t eat certain foods, let them know the benefits of the foods they are eating and know that their body is thanking them. 

I’m May from @enlightenedfoodie, blogger behind . I’m a mother of 3 and make real food recipes that are kid friendly to nourish & heal. I focus on using whole ingredients and superfoods that boost the nutritional and healing properties of everything we eat. A lover of all things fermented (kombucha, kefir & kraut!), healing bone broths and juices. Living with an autoimmune condition, my recipes are always paleo friendly, sometimes GAPS, AIP & Whole30 and always tasty.

Thanks May! Are you a young person living a real foods lifestyle? Has your family (including the kids!) transitioned to eating real food? Drop me a note at if you would like to share your journey! I’d love to have you.

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