A whole food diet means that you’re eating foods in it’s most natural, most nutritious, unaltered state. It means that the food was picked off a tree or from the ground, in other words, farmed. Minimally processed food that contains less than 5 ingredients, and has not been chemically altered can also be considered a whole food. Since you’re consuming food in its natural state, you’re also consuming dense amounts of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that otherwise would have been lost if the food was processed or chemically altered. This kind of diet is the best option for preventing disease and improving overall health. It’s many benefits include:
1. Improved digestive health
Grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds contain natural soluble and insoluble fiber that aids healthy digestion. A healthy digestive system means that you’re capable of absorbing all the nutrients your body needs which in turn helps all your other bodily systems.
2. Improved blood sugar levels
A plant-based, whole food diet cuts off animal meat that’s high in cholesterol and saturated fat. This causes your blood sugar to spike which can lead clogged arteries, stroke, or heart attacks.
3. More energy
Animal protein digests harder that plant-based protein. If you save energy just for digesting, then you’ll have more to burn for doing other things like sports or exercise.
4. Better, clearer skin
Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that can help prevent wrinkles and delay aging. Not only that, a whole food diet cuts off your refined sugar intake. Diets low in sugar helps prevent acne breakouts and give you clearer skin.
5. Decreased inflammation
Animal meat and refined carbohydrates cause inflammation in our bodies because those foods are acidic and cause an imbalance in our pH levels. Removing them from your diet also removes this imbalance in our bodies.
6. Helps in weight-loss
The absence of saturated fat, refined sugars, and artificial ingredients in whole foods most definitely helps in weight-loss. Whole foods have lesser calories but have much more nutrients than processed food.
7. Better for the environment
Farming livestock or poultry produces greenhouse emissions that are harmful to our planet and needs a lot more resources like gas for transportation. Farming fruits and vegetables are the better choice as it’s less harmful to the environment than raising animals.
How do you start eating more whole foods?
Before you get overwhelmed or confused, let’s make it simple and cite examples of whole foods based on their categories.
● Grains: Oats, corn, brown rice, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta
●Legumes: Lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh
● Fruits and vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, pears, pomegranate, sweet potato
● Nuts and seeds: Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds
● Herbs and spices: Curry, rosemary, basil, cayenne pepper
● Healthy oils: Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil
What not to eat?
Now that you know which foods to eat. Here are the foods that you should avoid.
● Any food with a lot of ingredients like food color, added sugar, preservatives, fillers, and many other chemicals that most of the time you can’t even pronounce.
● Any food out of a package or box: Cookies, powdered potatoes, juice drinks
● Ready-made, instant food: Microwave meals, prepared frozen food, instant noodles
The Game Plan
For a beginner or someone used to ready-made, accessible food, this diet may be a bit overwhelming so it’s easy to give up before you even start. Here are some ways to help you start and succeed.
Begin by reading and learning about the types of foods you can eat and where to shop them. Do your research and find out which grocery stores or restaurants sell and serve more wholesome foods and stick to those
2. Make a shopping list
Using the guide above, make a list of foods you want to buy in each category. This way you’re ensuring that you have variety and that you’re eating well-balanced meals.
3. Read food labels
Many food products have misleading packaging so make it a habit to read labels so you know exactly what you’re putting inside your body.
4. Opt for home-cooked meals
The best way to stick to this diet is to make your own food so you can control your portions and what ingredients you put in your meals.
5. Practice willpower
Try your best to resist temptation. The longer you avoid processed food, the less you will crave for it. Make sure that you don’t keep any in your kitchen so you won’t be tempted. If you get cravings, try to munch on fruits or nuts instead.
6. Don’t be so hard on yourself
If you slip up, don’t punish yourself. That will only lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. If you make a mistake, recognize it and just do your best to go back on track.
Like any other change, switching from a diet filled with processed food and animal products to a more plant-based, whole food diet can be challenging. But it can definitely be done with the right knowledge, the right attitude, and some useful tips and tricks to help you for the win. Happy eating!