Whole foods are not processed or refined and do not contain additives, preservatives, dyes or extra salt and bad fat. They are the foods that our ancestors grew up on. Whole foods come from the ground, oceans, forests and trees of the earth. Whole food spoils.
Whole food does not have to mean organic nor are organic foods necessarily whole. Our bodies need a variety of macro and micro nutrients in order to give us energy, fight disease, keep our bodies young and healthy. Nutrients need to work together in their pure state in order to benefit our bodies, that is what whole foods provides for us.
In today's world we are so busy and want things immediately, that refined and processed foods are thriving because of it. I don't really believe that the reason why so many people have disease and are obese is because they eat too much fat. I believe it's because the average person consumes 80% processed and refined foods that are filled with chemicals, additives, bad fat, bad carbs and only consume 20% whole foods. I believe in the 80/20 rule as well but in reverse. When I consume 80% whole foods, I feel more energetic, my mind is happy, I am balanced, my hormones do not feel out of control, my skin is smooth and vibrant and I know I'm doing my body good!
Processed and Refined
Refined and processed foods are foods that have been altered in order to have a longer shelf life and look more attractive to the eye. Processed foods are typically high in additives such as, artificial sweeteners, salt, dyes and harmful preservatives. The refining process strips all of the beneficial enzymes, vitamins and minerals out, and then adds them back in with synthetic nutrients that our bodies do not understand. The downfall with this method is that the synthetic nutrients are not absorbed by the body as effectively as whole, natural nutrients. Whole, natural nutrients work synergistically as a team and therefore can be absorbed by the body in a proper manner for optimal health.
Enriched and Fortified
Enriched, means that after they have stripped the whole food of all of it's natural vitamins and minerals in the refining process they then add these nutrients back into the product and say that it has been fortified with vitamins and minerals. Companies make it sound so appealing by stating that their product has more nutrients in it than before they refined it. Vitamins, enzymes and minerals need to be in their natural state (whole) in order for our bodies to break them down and be absorbed.
Low Fat/ Fat Free
Low fat and Fat free foods are becoming more and more popular, because we are told that fat is bad for us, which is not necessarily true because out bodies need fat, GOOD fat! Labels on food products seem to forget to inform the consumer that if it states "low fat or no fat" that they probably contain more sugar and/or salt to make up for the loss of fat. Our bodies need GOOD fat for many functions like the absorption of fat soluble vitamins , the balance of hormones and to promote proper brain development. Why is it that so many people are eating fat free foods but obesity and disease is more predominant than ever? Probably because they have more chemicals, bad preservatives and additives in them that our body cannot process and people are eating more calories from low quality carbs so they eat more.
Our bodies feel more full for longer if we eat whole foods, like whole grains and vegetables. If we eat more whole foods, our blood sugar will be more stable which allows our body to slowly break down glucose and provide us with stable energy through out the day.
Simple Ways To Start Introducing Whole Foods To Your Everyday Routine
Figure out what works for you on a weekly basis, start off slow. You usually know what your week looks like so plan accordingly.
Organization is Key!
Make up a little menu every week of what you would like to prepare then write a grocery list and go grocery shopping. You could even prepare your menu according to what is on sale that week! Set aside half a day to prep your dinners for the week, cook most of them and then you just have to reheat the meals in the oven.
Eating a variety of foods on a daily basis gives our body the advantage of absorbing many types of macro/micro nutrients and allows our body to replenish specific enzymes that are needed for all sorts of chemical reactions within the body.
For example: One week I will eat whole wheat bread from my local baker and the next week I will not consume bread at all. The week after I may buy a good quality gluten free loaf of bread from my local baker.
I eat organic, pasture raised meat and wild fish at least twice a week and at the end of the week I tend to eat vegetarian, because it will last the longest in my fridge. Food lasts longer in the fridge than you think, cooked meat will last 4 days no problem.
Have Your Freezer Filled with Whole Foods
I always try to have homemade pizzas, soup or a casserole of some sort that I prepared ahead of time in the freezer. So on those really busy days my husband and I have a healthy alternative.
Make extra food so that you have it for lunches or snacks the next day.
I make a soup, boil hard boiled eggs and roast fresh salmon or chicken breasts on a weekly basis to use for sandwiches or salads.
Grilled or roasted vegetables are so simple and delicious. Use them for paninis, wraps, omelettes and pizzas. They will last for about 4-5 days in the fridge.
Make Your kitchen as Functional and Efficient as Possible
If you do not enjoy being in your kitchen because it is disorganized or you just do not have the right tools, you will not enjoy the cooking process and therefore give up on preparing whole foods. You want less but quality utensils and equipment. Quality does not have to always be expensive.
Consume What You Have
Before you buy more food be creative and use what you have. So many people are starving in the world these days and in North America it seems normal to just throw food out or eat something else because people don't feel like eating what they already have.
Food has the power to heal our mind and body if we allow it. Be aware of how you feel when you are eating. Your mind and body will tell you what you need or do not need. For example: If you are thirsty, you need water or coconut water for electrolytes. If you have muscle cramps, you may need food sources that are high in magnesium
Reduce those Carbs
When I say reduce those carbs I mean grains, yes even quinoa, bread, pasta, sugar, yes even honey, boxed food, conventional meats and dairy.
Eat mostly organic vegetables and grass fed/ Pasture raised local meat and eat good quality fats. Check out Mark Hyman's book Eat Fat, Get Thin.
Snacks if needed
Cut up raw vegetables and dip or hummus or grass fed ranch dip
Good quality grass fed cheese and seed crackers
Avocado with sea salt, pepper, olive oil
These could all be great snack items for the day.
Graze All Day? NO WAY!
We used to think that eating 4-5 smaller meals a day can help with weight loss and keep your blood sugar balanced. We know that is no longer true. In fact, by skipping breakfast and only eating twice a day gives your body the much needed rest it needs to help repair itself and reduce insulin levels. Check out intermittent fasting and Dr.Jason Fung for more info.
What is important is not to be too hard on yourselves, do what you can. The more you eat whole foods the more "whole" you will feel!