Getting Adjusted

Starting a Whole Foods Diet: 3 Simple Steps

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Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible before being consumed. Whole foods typically do not contain added ingredients, such as sugar, salt, or fat.

Step 1: What Are Whole Foods?

The biggest hurdle with starting a whole foods diet is not trying to figure out the ratios of proteins to carbohydrates to fats, or counting calories. It is a matter of understanding the difference between whole foods and processed foods. In fact, there is a timeless rule of holistic nutrition: the farther it is from the source or the more steps of processing a food has gone through, the less of a “real” food it is. Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible before being consumed. Whole foods typically do not contain added ingredients, such as sugar, salt, or fat.

Examples of Whole Foods vs. Processed Food Potatoes vs. Potato Chips Tomatoes vs. Ketchup Pork Chops vs. Vienna sausages Un-pasteurized milk vs. Whey protein powder Orange Orange vs. juice concentrate Wheat berries vs.White flour Organic chicken breast vs. Chicken nuggets Edamame vs. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein Steel-cut oats vs. Instant oatmeal

Step 2: Know Your Food

Knowing where and how our food is produced, and eating more locally, are key to making food healthier for people and the planet. Natural and organic foods provide the best options for quality nutrients, but it is also true that we need a wide variety of different foods in order to get a good balance of nutrients.

Science presently estimates that there are over 30,000 plant based nutrients in our food chain, and generous consumption of all 30,000 reduces the risks for degenerative diseases. It just makes sense to step out of the comfort zones of ‘tried and true’ to experiment with some new food choices.

Step 3: Prepare simple, wholesome meals at home.

The best way to become more familiar with what you are buying in stores and restaurants is to understand how your favorite dishes are prepared. Although this technique is not going to educate you on the many tricks in the food industry, it will give you a head-start on what to expect in a meal. This is also a great opportunity to pull out Grandmother’s recipes and reconnect with your own family’s food tradition.

Starting a whole foods diet is simpler than you imagine. Think back to basics and you will reap the rewards of eatingfor better nutrition.

How to Choose Whole Foods for Your Family

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Foods to eat on a whole food diet will depend on your definition of whole food. For some people this means eating foods in their natural form, uncooked–which is known as a raw food diet. For others whole foods are interpreted to mean foods in their natural form plus foods that have not been overly processed and still contain natural nutrients and fiber. In the case of the second group, it’s important to learn how to read labels.

Stocking Your Pantry With Whole Food Staples

No matter which approach you take to eating whole foods, it will require a restocking of your pantry. For this article, we’ll focus on the whole food approach that includes cooked food.

When preparing to move to a diet including whole foods, it’s a good idea to stock your shelves. It not only saves unplanned trips to the store, but also encourages you to stay on your healthy diet plan. Besides things like unrefined sea salt, pepper and other spices you’ll use to flavor your food, other items to have on hand include:

  • Almonds
  • Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar (Cold Pressed with the mother in it)
  • Braggs Liquid Amino (Cold Pressed) – Makes a great salt substitute
  • Brown rice
  • Coconut Oil (Cold Pressed Virgin) – Used in cooking
  • Dates
  • Flaxseeds
  • Flax seed oil (Cold Pressed)
  • Garlic (fresh)
  • Lemons (fresh)
  • Olive oil (Pure Virgin Cold-pressed) – Used for to make salad dressing.
  • Raisins
  • Rice milk (or other milks such as almond milk or soy milk)
  • Seeds to sprout
  • Tahini (Raw)
  • Unrefined honey
  • Walnuts
  • Whole Grain Cereal 
  • Whole grain pasta

Keeping these whole food ingredients on hand will make cooking and eating whole foods easier and the transition to your whole food diet tastier, too.

Benefits of Choosing a Whole Foods

In our culture today, most people don’t begin to realize how much nutrition has been stripped away in foods that have been over-processed. For an example, look at white rice in comparison to brown rice:

Brown Rice Vs. White Rice

Brown rice and white rice actually start out from the same grain which has several layers. The outer layer, known as the hull, is removed leaving the edible portion-and what is known as brown rice. This process leaves the most nutritional value, and because the rest of the layers remain, it is a whole food. White rice takes this same grain and processes it further. The bran and germ layer are removed through milling, and then the grain in polished to give it the white look we’ve come to recognize as white rice. This polishing process removed the grain layer which houses the essential fats found in brown rice. This is done to extend the shelf life of the product. This refining process actually strips away:

  • 67 percent of vitamin B3
  • 80 percent of vitamin B1
  • 90 percent of vitamin B6
  • 60 percent of the iron
  • 50 percent of manganese
  • 50 percent of the phosphorous
  • Dietary fiber
  • Essential fatty acids
Reading Labels on a Whole Food Diet

Reading food labels is important when trying to include only whole foods in your diet. The simpler the ingredient list, the more likely it is a whole or less-refined food. Whole foods are foods kept close to their original form. Good rules of thumb to follow, if you can’t pronounce it, or have never heard of it, steer clear of the product. Also a good rule of thumb eat food with no more than 5 ingredients. To help identify whether or not to include foods in your pantry, avoid buying packaged foods with the following types of ingredients:

Ingredients to Avoid When Choosing Whole Foods acesulfame potassium caprocaprylobehenin octa-esters of sucrose propyl gallate ammonium chloride certified color hydrogenated fats propylparaben artificial colors cyclamates disodium inosinate saccharin artificial flavor cysteine irradiated food sodum aluminum phosphate aspartame DATEM lactylated esters of mono-and diglyceride sodium aluminum sulfate azodicarbonamide dimethylpolysiloxan methyl silicon sodium benzoate benzoates dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate methylparabe sodium bisulfit benzoyl peroxid disodium calcium microparticularizedwhey protein sodium diacetate BHA disodium dihydrogen monosodium glutamate sodium glutamate BHT disodium guanylate natamyacin sodium nitrate/nitrite bleached flour disodium inosinate nitrates/nitrites sodium propionate bromated flour ethyl vanillin partially hydrogenated oil sodium sulfite brominated vegetable oil ethylene oxide polydextrose sorbic acid calcium bromate ethyoxyquin potassium benzoate sucralose calcium disodium FD & C colors potassium bisulfite sucroglycerides calcium peroxide foie gras potassium bromate sucrose polyester calcium propionate disodium guanylate potassium metabisulfite sulfites calcium saccharin hexa-esters of sucrose potassium sorbate tetrasodium EDTA calcium sorbat hepta-esters of sucrose propionatee vanillin