Whole Foods Are They For You?
What Kind of Whole Foods Are You?
There’s something wonderful about eating whole foods, knowing that you are eating foods that are fresh from nature and as close to their natural state as possible. Not only do you know that you are doing something good for your health in the moment, but you also know that you are making food choices that are going to help you to heal your body from any lingering effects that it might have from poor past food choices.
But there is one thing that you need to know before you begin your whole journey, and it is crucial for your whole eating success. You need to make the decision about what kind of whole food path you want to take.
With most diets, you begin your eating journey with a clear set of rules that you have to follow. You know right out of the gate what you can and cannot have and you are easily able to find new recipes with a quick Google search. So let’s say that you have decided to follow a paleo diet. A simple Google search of paleo recipes will give you a lot of options that you are safe to eat. Sure, you will still have to do your due diligence to be sure that the recipe truly follows your paleo lifestyle, but other than that you will have nothing else to worry about and you can easily find your fill of recipes this way.
But when it comes to eating whole, things aren’t always so simple. There are many variations to the whole food lifestyle, but the basically it can be broken down into three categories. You are either a whole food meat eater, a whole food plant based eater, or a a whole food clean eater.
The 3 Whole Food Lifestyles
Whole Food Meat Eater – Essentially, this follows the same guidelines as the paleo diet. You will not be eating any grains or anything that is processed. But if you are doing a program such as the Whole30 you will have a few more restrictions. For example, the Whole30 does not promote making any desserts, even healthy desserts, while on the program. However, a meat eater who is not part of the Whole30 program will be able to find paleo donuts, paleo brownies, and other paleo treats to eat.
Whole Food Plant Based Eater – Unlike the whole food meat eater, if you are eating plant based then you will be relying heavily on grains while avoiding meat. The popular ‘Forks Over Knives’ movement would fall into this category.
Whole Food Clean Eaters – This is a group of people who are dedicated to eating foods that are healthy and not processed, but typically these people will allow themselves to eat both grains and meat. If you are unsure where to start with your whole journey, this is typically the best place as you will be able to start healing your body from the inside out while figuring out which foods work best for you.
Even though your journey into a Whole Food life will be an amazing one, it is important that you choose your path before you start. This way there won’t be any confusion for you down the road and you are more likely to stick with the path that you have chosen.
What Makes Food Whole
If you are just learning about the whole foods lifestyle, it might seem a bit confusing. Like many people, you have likely had healthy foods in the past that you are no longer able to eat. The first thing you should know is that you are not alone. Many people have been in your shoes. It is downright hard to start this journey and then realize that you have to adjust to a completely new way of eating. And it can be even harder when you have been thinking that you were making healthy choices for yourself and your family all of this time only to realize now that you were not.
For example, you can go into almost any grocery store and find vegan frozen meals. Sure, these meals look healthy from the surface. Many times they promote vegetables and have all of the right ‘healthy words’ on the box. What’s even more confusing is that these foods can also be found in your local health food store, the one place where you would expect to find truly healthy products.
If you are starting on your whole food journey, you don’t need all of that frustration. Instead, you just need to follow a few simple guidelines to determine if something is whole or not. Once you have these rules memorized you will easily be able to go through your grocery store and pick the foods that are truly healthy for your body.
Whole Food Guidelines
The first rule is to always buy organic.
This is a bit more expensive and is usually one of the hardest things for new whole food eaters to wrap their minds around. The reason is because we are always taught that fruits and vegetables are good for us, it wasn’t until the last few decades when people started making a fuss about eating organic. But in truth, whatever cost you spend on eating organic will be well worth it in the long run. When you are not eating organic you are often exposing yourself to a variety of chemicals that are used to ‘beef up’ and preserve those fruits and vegetables. Add that to the fact that you have no way of knowing exactly what has been done with the food that you are choosing, and eating organic becomes a whole lot more important.
If you are a meat eater, you want to be sure that you are choosing grass fed meat.
Like with organic foods, when you are eating grass fed meat you are eating meat that has to be treated a certain way. From humane treatment to the way they are fed, grass fed meat tends to have a better life and be better for you. Additionally, it is important to remember that we are technically eating whatever our meat has eaten, so if your meat is not being fed properly you will be impacted by that.
The third rule is to look for foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.
While this doesn’t mean that you have to forage through the woods, it does mean that you should be reading labels whenever possible and looking for foods from online sources like ‘Primal Kitchen’ and ‘Thrive’, or foods approved by the Whole30 program. Remember, even if you aren’t following a Whole30 program, Whole30 followers have strict rules about what they can and cannot eat. And if you ever have any questions on your whole food path, it is better to err on the side of caution.
Even though this journey may seem a bit confusing now, with a little time it will all start to become second nature. Yes, in the beginning you may feel like you are spending a lot of time looking for recipes and finding supplies in the grocery store, but over time you will have a ‘go to’ list of things that will be easy for you to use.
Eating Whole to Lose Weight
While any whole food path that you choose will help you to get healthy, finding a path that will help you lose weight can sometimes be more complicated. Many times the simple act of making better food choices is enough to begin to lose weight, so many whole food eaters will see weight loss with little effort. But that isn’t true for everyone, there are those who will still need to make a bit of extra effort in order to see weight loss while they are eating whole.
But the good news is that with a few adjustments, its is possible to lose weight while eating whole foods.
The first thing you will want to do is get a journal. A journal will be able to give you an accurate account of what you are taking in and how those foods are making you feel. So let’s say that you have been eating whole, clean foods for awhile but you are not losing weight, after journaling for a few weeks you might find that you have been eating a lot of sweet foods like honey and bananas. Even though these foods are healthy, they are still natural sweeteners, so eating them in abundance may inhibit your ability to lose weight.
After you are able to take inventory of what you have eaten for a few weeks, start looking for ways that you can be stricter with your food choices. A good place to start here would be looking at something like the Whole30 program. While this program is very close to the popular paleo diet, it is also more strict than the typical paleo diet. The Whole30 is designed to help you to give your body a reset and after doing so you will be able to add foods back into your everyday life and get a true understanding of how these foods affect your body.
If the Whole30 program is more strict than you would like, you can start by looking at whole foods that are rich in hydration and fiber. Foods that fit into this category will help you to naturally start cleaning out your system.
One of the most exciting things about starting a whole foods journey is the thought of being able to lose weight effortlessly. While it is true that many people begin to see a difference just by starting to eat whole, that isn’t true for everyone. But it is important to remember that you are not doing anything wrong and you are not the only one who hasn’t lost weight right away. We are all different, and if you are having trouble losing weight while eating whole it simply means that you need to re-evaluate the steps you are taking on your whole food path.
Whole Foods Make You Feel Full
One of the most challenging things that people face when they are trying to eat a different way is dealing with hunger pains. Unlike processed foods that tend to ‘stick to your ribs’ and clog up your system, whole foods are meant to be absorbed by the body quickly. While this is great in terms of your body getting the nutrients that it needs fast, it is also hard because it means that you tend to get hungry faster.
Think about it, even though fries and a milkshake may have been enough to get you through your workday before you started eating whole, now that you are eating more fruits and vegetables you are likely finding that you are feeling hungry much faster.
But there is good news, you can find a way to stick to your whole foods routine and keep yourself feeling full at the same time. You just need to learn which foods will keep you feeling full and make those foods a staple in every meal.
For starters, you want to be sure that every meal has a good dose of protein.
While it might seem like you are eating too much protein, it is important to remember that protein is a crucial part of our bodies and many of us are not getting enough protein. If you are a whole foods plant based eater, your grains will provide you with the protein that you are looking for. And of course if you are a meat eater then you will be getting the majority of your protein through the meats that you eat.
Once you have found your proteins, the next step is to find your fibers.
Fiber not only helps to clean out your system naturally, but it also goes a long way in allowing you to feel full. WebMD has a great article on the many benefits of fiber.
- Beans. Think three-bean salad, bean burritos, chili, soup.
- Whole grains. That means whole-wheat bread, pasta, etc.
- Brown rice. White rice doesn’t offer much fiber.
- Nuts. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts have more fiber than other nuts.
- Baked potato with skin. It’s the skin that’s important here.
- Berries. All those seeds, plus the skin, give great fiber to any berry.
- Bran cereal. Actually, any cereal that has 5 grams of fiber or more in a serving counts as high fiber.
- Oatmeal. Whether its microwaved or stove-cooked, oatmeal is good fiber.
- Vegetables. The crunchier, the better.
Finally, you want to be sure that you have good carbs added to all of your meals.
Goodcarbs.org states; “good carbs are unprocessed carbohydrates in their ‘all natural’ state – or very close to their natural state.” A great source of this can be found in sweet potatoes. The beauty of sweet potatoes is that you can eat them in abundance and they work with both meat and plant based whole food eaters. Here is a list of other great good carbs from WebMD that are clean:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Just eating five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will get you to about 10 or more grams of fiber, depending on your choices.
- Include some beans and bean products in your diet. A half-cup of cooked beans will add from 4 to 8 grams of fiber to your day.
- Switch to whole grains every single possible way (buns, rolls, bread, tortillas, pasta, crackers, etc…).
One of the easiest ways to find success when you are switching to a whole foods lifestyle is to find ways to keep yourself feeling full. When we start to feel hungry, it becomes very easy for us to reach back to our favorite comfort foods. After all, even if these foods are unhealthy they are the foods that your body is used to eating so they are the foods that your body knows will satisfy it.
But the good news is that planning all of your meals around protein, carbs, and fiber will allow you to feel full for a longer period of time. And feeling full will help you greatly on your whole food eating path.
5 Ways Eating Whole Foods Serves Your Health
Whole foods are the foods closest to their natural state, which means that they contain much more nutrients than processed foods. Of course, it’s incredibly hard to make your diet consist of whole foods only, but you should strive to make them the majority of the food you consume.
Whole foods can be unprocessed vegetable, fruits, beans, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, seafood, fish, eggs, red meat, and poultry. Now, most people know that whole foods are healthier, but don’t want to spend too much money on them, since they are slightly more expensive.
However, just take a moment to think about how health is important and if you truly need all the processed snacks and sweets that you buy on a regular basis. It’s a much better idea to simply visit your local farmers’ market and buy the nutrient-packed whole foods.
In case you need to be convinced to start eating whole foods, here are 5 ways they contribute to your well-being.
Lower Risk Of Diabetes
According to Mercola.com, a diet that involves a lot of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits significantly lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In case you are already suffering from this disease, know that you too will feel better if you follow a diet based on whole foods.
A Stop To Nutrient Shortages
WebMD notes that a survey about eating habits was conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, and the results they found were shocking. A huge amount of people didn’t have proper nutrient intake. In fact, 92-97% of the population that participated in the survey didn’t consume enough potassium and fiber, while a third of the people didn’t consume a sufficient amount of vitamin C.
However, these nutrients help reduce the risk of some serious diseases and are very important for your overall health. So, what should people do when they simply don’t get enough nutrients from the food they eat? Start consuming whole foods. All of these nutrient shortages can be fixed by following a diet filled with healthy, whole foods.
Most whole plant-based foods are extremely rich in fiber, while processed and junk foods aren’t. Fiber is a very important nutrient that improves your health in numerous ways. For example, it helps you fight diabetes, heart disease, it helps you feel full faster, and it keeps the GI tract moving.
Whole foods are a much better way to increase your fiber intake, since they contain both types of it (insoluble and soluble). Eating foods that are rich in fiber will also help control your weight, blood fats, and blood sugar.
If you want to keep your weight under control, but don’t feel like going on some extreme diet, then you’ll be pleased to hear that eating whole foods promotes healthy weight management, especially if you choose to eat mostly whole vegetables and fruits. These foods contain very little calories, so you won’t have to worry about counting them.
There is a simple explanation why whole foods will provide you with more energy. When you eat something, your body has to break down that food. However, processed foods are difficult to break down, so a lot of the energy they have to offer will actually go into the processing of breaking it down. On the other hand, it’s not a challenge for your body to break down whole foods, so you will be left with a lot of unused energy.
Add Healthy Fish And Seafood Dishes To Your Diet
The delicious goodies that come from deep waters yield multiple benefits. Here is why you should add seafood delicacies to your diet:
- The omega -3 fatty acids in cold water fish, such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel and herring reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, including stroke and/or heart attack. You can get these from fish oil capsules on the market today but why not get it directly from actual seafood? Nutrients in fish and seafood help protect your skin against the damaging effects of ultra-violet rays. Fish oil also helps reduce acne breakouts. Eating fish helps boost fetal growth and development, and may reduce chances of delivering prematurely.
Eating Clean List
Here is a simple and clean list to get you going on your Clean Whole Foods Journey:
- Eat six small meals a day.
- Eat breakfast every day, within an hour of getting up.
- Eat lean protein and complex carbohydrates at every meal.
- Have two or three servings of healthy fats every day.
- Get fiber, vitamins, nutrients, and enzymes from fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Control your portions.
- Drink 2 to 3 liters of water (about 13 8-ounce cups) every day.
The foods to avoid:
- Over-processed foods, especially white flour and sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sugary beverages, such as soda and juice
- Foods with chemical additives like food dyes and sodium nitrite
- Foods with preservatives
- Artificial foods, such as processed cheese slices
- Saturated fats and trans fats
Consider what you are eating every day and that changing your diet is your best chance for living a longer and healthier life. Dedicate yourself to the clean eating lifestyle; the benefits go way beyond weight loss, you’ll stay healthy, have more energy and live your life to it’s fullest!
In Health & Wellness,