If you're looking for a great way to improve your health, try eating a simple whole foods diet. Making the switch doesn't need to be difficult or expensive. In fact, it can be done in as little as eight weeks. Our diets are filled with chemicals, pesticides, and hormones. You wouldn't open up a can of one of these things and drink it, and yet, all of these toxins and more are ingested daily by millions of people in the processed foods available on grocery store shelves. Eating organic, whole foods helps you to avoid all of the toxins in your food supply.
What Are Whole Foods?
Whole foods are those foods that come from natural sources. Think of it this way. If you were a hunter or forager, what foods would you find to eat?
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Unprocessed meats and fish
- Unprocessed, unrefined grains or sprouted grains
- Naturally occurring dairy products
What Whole Foods Are Not
In order to plan your easy simple whole foods diet, it is important to know what whole foods aren't.
- Flour and processed grains
- Canned foods
- Bread and pasta
- Hydrogenated fats, such as margarine
- Soda and artificial sweeteners
- Snack foods, like crackers and potato chips
- Most things that come in a box or a bag
What Are the Benefits of a Simple Whole Foods Diet?
Switching to a less processed way of eating has far-reaching health and environmental benefits.
- Immune function is increased.
- Your energy levels will show marked improvement.
- Toxins are flushed from the body.
- The foods you eat will have less impact on the environment.
- You'll increase your intake of antioxidants and phytochemicals. Studies have shown that eating more of these can positively influence aging and disease.
- Decrease sugar consumption, while dietary fiber and nutrients are increased.
- Eating whole foods may assist in weight management.
- Eating seasonal local foods supports your local economy and regional farmers.
Your Keys to Health
This easy simple whole foods diet contains the keys to your health. It's not that difficult to follow. Here are some simple steps and tips to follow your whole foods diet:
- Think of yourself as a hunter or gatherer. Which foods would you find?
- Seasonal local fruits and vegetables
- Plant foods in a variety of colors
- Legumes, nuts and seeds
- Food from animal sources
- Pure, clean water
- Shop around the edges of the grocery store. This is where the whole foods can be found. Avoid the boxed, bagged and canned foods in the center aisles.
- Choose foods with a minimal amount of processing. The closer they are to their natural state, the better.
- Eat a balanced diet. Even when eating healthy, whole foods, you need to make sure that you are eating a good balance of nutrients.
Eight Week Changes for Eating Whole Foods
When contemplating any new way of eating, it's best to make dietary changes gradually. Doing this helps you to avoid being overwhelmed by making changes all at once, which can keep you on track. Try changing one or two things at a time, for instance:
- Week 1: Eliminate sodas and cut back gradually on caffeinated beverages. Increase water intake.
- Week 2: Switch from processed grains to whole grains.
- Week 3: Aim for the full elimination of caffeine this week.
- Week 4: Cut out sugary snacks and replace them with fruit
- Week 5: Pump up your fruit and vegetable intake this week, while cutting out all remaining processed foods.
- Week 6: Switch from flavoring foods with salt to flavoring them with herbs and spices.
- Week 7: Eliminate snack foods like potato chips.
- Week 8: Aim to have this be the week that you start shopping around the edges of the grocery store, making the switch over to mostly whole foods.
Many people consider eating organic foods an essential part of a whole foods diet, especially if the goal is to eliminate chemical toxins in your food. While it is a little more expensive, there are many health benefits to selecting organic fruits and vegetables, as well as hormone-free meat and dairy products. All of the chemicals associated with pesticides and hormones can build up toxicity in the body when ingested through food sources. Going organic is a personal choice, but many who have made the switch feel that it pays off with better health and vibrant energy.
Finding Organic Foods
- Many stores have at least a small selection of organic produce.
- Natural foods stores offer a wide array of organic options, and many offer hormone-free meat sources, as well.
- Local farmers' markets are an excellent source of seasonal local organic produce, farm-raised eggs and hormone-free meat and poultry.
- Consider joining a local farm co-op in your area. Farm co-ops (also know as farm shares) will deliver a box of seasonal produce to your home on a weekly basis. This is a particularly cost-effective way of finding organic produce.
If Organic Isn't in the Budget
It's true that organic can be a more expensive way of eating. Before deciding it is entirely out of your budget, however, consider trying farmers' markets and farm shares as outlined above. These two options often make eating organically more affordable. If, after trying these two options, organic foods still remain outside of your budget, use a vegetable wash that is labeled for removing pesticide use. Follow the instructions on the container.
Making a Change for the Better
The closer you can come to eating a whole foods, organic diet, the healthier you are likely to be. With careful planning and by making the gradual changes recommended over eight weeks, you can improve your health.