What are whole foods? What should I eat? We live in a fast society and food is all around us. However, some convenient do not hold much nutritional value. Whole foods on the other hand are foods that are less processed and hold more nutritional value, thus making it perhaps the better choice. According to Tara Gidus, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, “I think there’s some genuine confusion about what qualifies as a whole food.” A lot of people think that whole foods are locally grown, not treated with pesticide, or organic. But they are not necessarily whole foods. The definition of healthy whole foods is much simpler.
Whole foods is a food in its natural state, less processed. These foods help in a number of different ways. Some provide needed have antioxidants, vitamins, protein, energy and minerals which protect cells against damage. Their nutrients help to keep your immune system strong, protecting you free from radicals. Studies have found that a diet high in healthy whole foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds and whole grains are associated with a reduced risk of diseases such as:
For instance, “When whole grains are refined, the bran and the coat of the grain are often removed,” says Kaiser. A vital nutrient like fiber is lost reducing its health benefit during your consumption. As such during the enrichment process, nutrients are artificially added back making that same whole grain you started with less nutritional. The difference would be like eating an apple instead of having a glass of apple juice. Or having a baked yam instead of mashed potatoes.
Sometimes whole foods are associated with upscale grocery stores. While that may be true in some instances, you can still make the conscious effort to shop the parameter of stores where produce is placed. So, you don’t have to run all over town to buy these foods. You can also choose to shop at your outdoor markets where food is sold by local farmers as well as cheaper than processed foods and healthier I might add? For instance, a bag of brown rice or quinoa will be cheaper than prepackaged foods, which are filled with large amounts of sodium and refined sugar.
Eating clean is simple, all is takes is to avoid processed and refined foods gradually. However, there is much more to this plan. A few suggestions is to modify your personal eating style by paying more attention to your choices surrounding proper nutrition. With the proper nutrition you are helping to manage diseases, remove toxins, lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle, which in turn makes you feel your very best. Relying on more whole foods is a great place to start.
Let’s try some simple steps to eating healthier. When you’re looking for whole foods, look for the foods that look closer to their original form. Choose whole, fresh, natural, seasonal and organic when possible. Choose pesticide free and free from antibiotics when selecting fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, some proteins, legumes, etc. Shop local farm produced, they usually have fewer pesticides and they have more favor. Eliminate artificial coloring, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. Beans, nuts and legumes are a great source of plant-based protein.
Eat a colorful variety of plants to ensure you’re getting the best nutrients for your body. Plants provide some of the most colorful and nutrient packed foods that exist in Mother Nature. It is never too early or too late to start a lifelong love affair with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Take advantage of powerful plant-strong proteins, fats and carbohydrates as well as the superstar micronutrients, antioxidants and phytonutrients to fuel your strength to help your body function at its best. Eat more plants each and every day and become plant-strong!
When eating animal proteins, focus on antibiotic-free and meat raised by humans. Most factory farms raise their animal. If you have to eat meat, for antibiotic-free labels, grass fed and hormone free. If the product doesn’t indicate it was raised by a human, ask. Remember organic doesn’t always mean antibiotic free or sustainably raised.
Stay away from foods in a can, box or bag. If you choose processed foods, read the label and if you don’t understand what the ingredients are, don’t buy. Stay away from products with trans fats such as fried foods, chips, margarine, etc. They clog the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Stay away from refined sugars and carbohydrates. They have been associated with exhaustion, hunger and mood swings and our society now exhibits more mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety and stress!.
Our bodies are dynamic… by simply understanding what your body is telling you, you can improve your health and feed your body what it needs. You may have an unknown food sensitivity that causes symptoms not typically associated with food, such as brain fog, headaches or exhaustion. To determine if you have any food allegories or sensitivities, try keeping a food journal, for five weeks, while removing dairy, gluten, soy, eggs and corn from you eating style. After three weeks, add them back one by one for a three day period and see how you feel. Some people feel better when they eat meat, grains or dairy; others can’t tolerate them and have removed them altogether from their diet. .
Believe it or not, fat is part of a healthy diet, as long as it is the right kind. The good fats are whole plant based foods like seed, nuts and avocados. Focus on vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.
Experiment and discover what you like, but eat in moderation. Too much kale can reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Eating too much meat or poultry can cause inflammation. A well-balanced mix can provide a full range of vitamins and minerals and is deliciously satisfying. Try and eat vegetables at most meals by filling ½ of your plate with them. Think salads, side dishes, soups, or even adding veggies to your sandwich or wrap. Don’t forget your fruit and nuts. They make good snacks and are good for “grab and go”.
Mavis Kelley, CHHC, AADP is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health and Wellness Life Coach specializing in nutrition, health, well-being, fitness and lifestyle design. For more information or to schedule a holistic health assessment, please contact her at: Mavis@nspirehealthyliving.net or visit her website at: http://NspireHealthyLiving.com.