I have been reading about Super Foods, Blue Zone Foods, Mediterranean Diet Foods for many years and in recent years, Whole Food and Paleo diets. Actually, all of those diets are pretty much the same, being based on a lot of the same healthy foods, with a few tweaks. Before that, I read all of the diet info that has graced the covers of women’s magazine issues since before the 1950’s. Source
I am fascinated with the Blue Zone way of eating. These people eat WHOLE FOODS, which may vary from region to region, and they are active and healthy centenarians (a person who has reached the age of 100 years). Can you imagine?
Not to worry if you are a regular reader, and this isn’t something you are particularly interested in learning about. I’ll be back to sharing my usual mix of stuff next week. However, more of my future recipes will be following the whole food guidelines in my preferred style of Shortcut Cooking and Quick & Easy recipes. (Along with a few guilty pleasures)
What Brought Us to Whole Foods?
There’s an old English proverb about “the cobbler’s children have no shoes“. If you haven’t heard that phrase before, it means he was so busy making shoes for everyone else, that his family went without shoes. Basically, it means we neglect what should be most important.
As someone who has a family history of obesity, and has watched my weight creep up the last twenty years, I am guilty of neglecting our health. After all that I read and learned about healthy eating, did I put any of that knowledge into practice? Well . . . no. No I didn’t. I wanted to, I had good intentions and I have incorporated a few healthier meals this past year, but not consistently enough to do much good for us.
We had started out the year determined to get in shape and lose weight. We were finally routinely eating a lot healthier and had joined a gym just a few miles from the house. (That short and convenient drive is important when you live in the country. Especially if you are going three days a week)
So what changed now, you ask? The stress of having to be in self-isolation for almost 3 months and watching on TV how our world was rapidly changing, was the beginning of this particular journey. Feeling miserable from the effects of the emotional eating of junk foods, and then thinking a lot about the quality of life we’d have, if we didn’t change our eating habits.
A while back, I had researched why my body hurt so much, when I am actually fairly active. I discovered that it may be inflammation and whole foods may help with the aches and pains. My last blog post was about Inflammation in our bodies and what we can do about it.
Heart-healthy Whole Foods
Whole foods are also heart-healthy. I’ve been through all of those “it might be your heart” tests. Twice! But now, it’s Hubby’s turn to find out if “it might be your heart”. And it was pretty nerve-racking sending him into ER alone while I had to sit in the vehicle alone, thanks to that nasty virus that crippled the world.
So here we are, waiting for all of the appointments and tests over the next couple of weeks and a follow up visit with our family doctor, and we are even more determined to get back on track.
How to Go Whole Foods
If you are just learning about the whole foods lifestyle, it might seem a bit confusing. Like many people, you have likely eaten foods labeled healthy in the past that you will no longer be able to eat. The first thing you should know is that you are not alone. Many people have been in your shoes. It is downright hard to start this journey and then realize that you have to adjust to a completely new way of eating. And it can be even harder when you have been thinking that you were making healthy choices for you and your family all of this time only to realize now that you were not.
For example, you can go into almost any grocery store and find vegan frozen meals. Sure, these meals look healthy from the surface. Many times they promote vegetables and have all of the right ‘healthy words’ on the box. What’s even more confusing is that these foods can also be found in your local health food store, the one place where you would expect to find truly healthy products.
A Few Simple Guidelines
This is the ideal time to start when fresh garden produce is plentiful!
If you are starting on your whole food journey, you don’t need all of that frustration. Instead, you just need to follow a few simple guidelines to determine if something is whole or not. Once you have these rules memorized you will easily be able to go through your grocery store and pick the foods that are truly healthy for your body.
The first rule is to always buy organic. This is a bit more expensive and is usually one of the hardest things for new whole food eaters to wrap their minds around. The reason is because we are always taught that fruits and vegetables are good for us, it wasn’t until the last few decades when people started making a fuss about eating organic. But in truth, whatever cost you spend on eating organic will be well worth it in the long run. When you are not eating organic you are often exposing yourself to a variety of chemicals that are used to ‘beef up’ and preserve those fruits and vegetables. Add that to the fact that you have no way of knowing exactly what has been done with the food that you are choosing, and eating organic becomes a whole lot more important.
If you don’t have many options for Organic produce, look for Naturally Grown produce at Farmer’s Markets or through CSA’s (Commununity Supported Agriculture). Local Harvest is a great place to find local food. Here’s a link that explains the difference between Certified Organic and Certified Naturally Grown. If you can’t find either, just be sure to wash your fruits and vegetables well.
If you are a meat eater, you want to be sure that you are choosing grass fed meat. Like with organic foods, when you are eating grass fed meat you are eating meat that has to be treated a certain way. From humane treatment to the way they are fed, grass fed meat tends to have a better life and be better for you. Additionally, it is important to remember that we are technically eating whatever our meat has eaten, so if your meat is not being fed properly you will be impacted by that.
The third rule is to look for foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. While this doesn’t mean that you have to forage through the woods, it does mean that you should be reading labels whenever possible and looking for foods approved by the Whole30 program.
*Remember, even if you aren’t following a Whole30 program, Whole30 followers have strict rules about what they can and cannot eat. And if you ever have any questions on your whole food path, it is better to err on the side of caution.
Even though this journey may seem a bit confusing now, with a little time it will all start to become second nature. Yes, in the beginning you may feel like you are spending a lot of time looking for recipes and finding supplies in the grocery store, but over time you will have a ‘go to‘ list of things that will be easy for you to use.
Types of Whole Food Diets
There’s something wonderful about eating whole foods. Knowing that you are eating foods that are fresh from nature and as close to their natural state as possible is a very rewarding thing. Not only do you know that you are doing something good for your health in the moment, but you also know that you are making food choices that are going to help you to heal your body from any lingering effects that it might have from poor past food choices.
But there is one thing that you need to know before you begin your whole journey, and it is crucial for your whole eating success. You need to make the decision about what kind of whole food path you want to take.
With most diets, you begin your eating journey with a clear set of rules that you have to follow. You know right out of the gate what you can and cannot have and you are easily able to find new recipes with a quick Google search. So let’s say that you have decided to follow a paleo diet. A simple Google search of paleo recipes will give you a lot of options that you are safe to eat. Sure, you will still have to do your due diligence to be sure that the recipe truly follows your paleo lifestyle, but other than that, you will have nothing else to worry about and you can easily find your fill of recipes this way.
But when it comes to eating whole, things aren’t always so simple. There are many variations to the whole food lifestyle, but basically it can be broken down into three categories. You are either a whole food meat eater, a whole food plant based eater, or a whole food clean eater.
Types of Whole Food Diets and Their Rules
1.Whole Food Meat Eater
Typically follows the philosophy of either the Whole30 program, the Paleo Diet, or both.
You will not be eating any grains or anything that is processed. But if you are doing a program such as the Whole30 you will have a few more restrictions. For example, the Whole30 does not promote making any desserts, even healthy desserts, while on the program. However, a meat eater who is not part of the Whole30 program will be able to find paleo donuts, paleo brownies, and other paleo treats to eat.
- Red Meat
- Sweet Potatoes
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Processed Foods
- White Potatoes (considered )a grey area and are not always eaten by Whole Food Meat Eaters who follow a paleo diet
- Healthy sweets (if you are following the Whole30 program)
2. Whole Food Plant Based Eater
Typically follows the same philosophy as the popular ‘Forks Over Knives’ program.
Unlike the whole food meat eater, if you are eating plant based then you will be relying heavily on grains while avoiding meat.
- White Potatoes
- Whole Wheat Pasta
- Whole Wheat Breads
- Red Meat
- Processed Foods
3. Whole Food Clean Eater
Typically follows a combination of both the Whole Food Meat Eater and the Whole Food Vegan Lifestyle.
This is a group of people who are dedicated to eating foods that are healthy and not processed, but typically these people will allow themselves to eat both grains and meat. If you are unsure where to start with your whole journey, this is typically the best place as you will be able to start healing your body from the inside out while figuring out which foods work best for you.
- Everything that can be eaten by both the Whole Food Meat Eater and the Whole Food Plant Based Eater
- Processed Foods
So far, we are following the #3 Whole Food Clean Eater category while I put together my meal plans and easy recipes, because it’s the least restrictive.