Should You Be Eating A “Whole Foods” Diet?
Over the last few years, the term “whole foods” has become very mainstream. Not only is the large chain supermarket wildly popular, so much so that they are expanding throughout the United States, but many people have even tried the Whole30® Program, a month long diet used to cleanse the body of toxins. What about you? Should you be trying this diet fad or shopping from this wholesome store? Here are a few facts about this trend that should help you decide if it is right for you.
What does “whole foods” mean?
A “whole foods” diet means that you are eating foods that have had little to no processing before hitting your plate. That means it most likely does not come from a box, or from the freezer. Fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grain breads with visible nuts and seeds are a great way to start a “whole foods” diet. Think of leaving things in the most natural state possible. This means minimal additions of fat, sugar and salt. Examples such as boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of breaded processed chicken nuggets, or a fresh baked potato instead of potato chips. 1 Also note that “whole foods” can be purchased from any supermarket, and not just a Whole Foods® store.
What are the benefits of a “whole foods” diet?
The great thing about following a “whole foods” diet is that the more natural the state of the food, often the more vitamins and minerals and fiber are obtained from eating it. Many people depend on fiber supplements to increase regularity when even just a slight addition of more vegetables to the diet could be all that was needed to move things along naturally. Also, phytochemicals found in plants have been proven to have many health benefits including antioxidant properties from lycopene in tomatoes and anthocyanins in berries. Eating the large variety of foods included in the “whole foods” diet also helps eliminate any nutrient deficiencies. Foods contain different vitamins and minerals and used together can help give us the right amounts of each. Often, we can get stuck in a nutrition rut and be missing large amounts of vitamins or even entire food groups!
Should I try to Whole30® Program?
The idea behind the Whole30® Program is to eliminate certain food groups (sugar, dairy, legumes and grains)2 to reset the system. There are multiple rules on how to stick to these recipes and avoid the unapproved list. While the basis of it is “whole foods” diet related, it does take things a step further by minimizing fruit intake as well as most sugar sources, including alcohol and baked goods. If you feel that you could benefit from this diet, please speak with your physician as being on certain medications and even insulin therapy requires an intake of glucose, which this program strictly minimizes. When you have an existing health condition such as type 2 diabetes, it is important to speak with your physician before making any harsh diet changes. Eliminating entire food groups, even for a short time may not be best for your health and lifestyle, even if it is the latest trend.
How can you move towards a “whole foods” diet?
Even small changes can improve the health of the body. Trading a starch for a vegetable at snack or mealtimes can increase the amount of fiber and vitamins consumed for that day. Often people find that they enjoy the increase in energy after eating unprocessed foods versus the sluggishness they may feel after a bag of potato chips. Here are some quick tips to remember:
- Try to buy more fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables
- Opt for boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of breaded, processed chicken nuggets
- Speak with your physician before trying elimination diets
- Trade a starch for a vegetable at east once a day and look for changes in energy levels
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