Eating healthy “whole foods” is suggested by everyone from your primary care physician to your naturopath, personal trainer, and celebrity fitness gurus, but what is a whole food diet? We know a nationwide grocer carries the name, but how do you infuse your diet with foods that fit the “whole” criteria?
Clearing Up the Whole Food Confusion
For food to be authentically “whole”, it needs to be minimally or completely unprocessed. Wheat can remain a whole grain or can be processed into flour to be used to cook and bake. Corn can be canned, frozen, popped, or even dried and ground and turned into cornmeal. As long as the “process” remains as natural and chemical/preservative-free as possible, grains, beans, fruit, vegetables, meat, and non-homogenized dairy is still considered whole.
Why Whole Foods?
Whole foods are natural, but remember that not all whole foods are organic—so chemicals may still be present. By infusing your diet with primarily whole foods, you will consume more essential vitamins and nutrients your body requires. If you eat mostly processed foods with “empty” calories, you may feel full and be at a healthy (or unhealthy) weight, but you may also be malnutrition due to eating fake food products that have little to no nutritional value.
What Ingredients Should You Avoid?
Whole foods are easy to spot, because the label typically has only a handful of ingredients, most of which you can easily identify. Why long ingredient labels? The man-made preservatives are there to extend shelf-life. The flavoring is often added to mimic the “natural” flavor or create a distinct new flavor combination. The coloring is there for marketing purposes and to make foods look more enticing. For example, cheddar cheese is white, but in the US, we dye it orange. At the very least, try to limit the ingredients below.
- Food Dyes
- Sodium Nitrate
- Partially Hydrogenated Oil
Food is to be enjoyed, so keep things fun by testing new recipes and experimenting with new herbs and spices. Eating a whole food diet need not be perfect; aim for 90% whole and 10% other.