Defining “Whole Foods”
I’m not necessarily talking about the store here! When I talk about eating “whole foods”, it means that the foods are processed or refined as little as possible before being consumed. They typically do not contain added sugar, fat, salt or chemical flavorings.
When we choose to consume foods in their natural state (such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat, fish and milk) without added ingredients, we get the benefit of all the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals in the same proportions as the plant grew them!
For example, think about natural forms of sugar coming from whole foods – like apples. That natural sugar comes along with vitamins, minerals, fiber and lots of phytochemicals. All nutrients that are essential for health.
In contrary, if you got that sugar from a soda and a candy bar, it would come with a lot of added fat, but not many nutrients. In fact to get the same 100g of sugar that you get from a candy bar and a soda would take you 6-7 apples!
You would never eat that many apples in one sitting, but I can guarantee that you’ve had a soda and candy bar!
Why Is Eating Whole Foods Important?
Why do health advocates stress consuming a mostly plant based, unprocessed diet? There are many health benefits to the nutrients that come along with foods in their natural, unprocessed form. The flip side is that consuming a processed diet can be harmful and stressful to your body.
Of course, there will be some processing involved on occasion. You would never eat a grain that wasn’t cooked or at least soaked! Sometimes you add some salt and a little oil to flavor your broccoli.
However, the type of processing that we don’t like is the kinds that completely alters the nutritional make-up of the food. Think about white bread. They take a nice, healthy grain; strip out the bran and germ (which contains a lot of fiber, minerals, healthy fats and vitamins), grind it up, add a multivitamin and bake it into a loaf.
Or think about some of the “granola bars” or “breakfast bars”. When you read the ingredient list, you might realize that you’re eating more processing agents than you are eating actual food!
Those additives and processing are not beneficial to your body, adding stress to your organs which try to process through large amounts of sugar, fat and salt. In addition, you are also missing out on all the great nutrients that were in the food before all the processing took place!
The Bottom Line!
Most of your foods consumed during the day should be the whole, unprocessed, good old FOOD! Think of your whole grains, your fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and other proteins.
If your food has an ingredient list, for goodness sakes, READ IT! You might be surprised by the “non-food” that you are eating!