Simple Foods

How to Switch to a Whole Food Diet

December 28, 2018
Picture of all types of different fruits with the blog post title "How to Switch to a Whole Food Diet"

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Did you know that the food you eat can actually impact your health and well-being? Food is energy! And what you eat can affect you! If you want to be healthier, and happier, then focusing on a whole food diet may be a better option for you!

If you are eating a lot of highly processed food, there most likely won’t be a lot of nutrients that your body needs there because those foods are very dead. Many have been so processed that there is little nutritional value left. But if you are eating a diet filled with organic fruits and vegetables and meat, dairy, and eggs from animals that were allowed to live free-range and treated well and with compassion, then the nutrient levels will be a whole lot better!

Maybe that’s something you’ve considered for health reasons but don’t know how to get started. Here are some tips that can help! It doesn’t have to be difficult.

Cleaning out the cupboards

I have to admit that in the past when I started a new diet, I would go into it with gusto. It was common for me to hit my kitchen with a vengeance and cleaning out every “bad” food from my cupboards and fridge. I still hang my head in shame, thinking about all of the money wasted as I gathered food to deliver to the local food pantry. And I threw away too much in the garbage can! Yikes!!!

When I made the decision to transition to a whole food way of life, I knew that I couldn’t just charge ahead and do what I had done previously. I am simply not bringing in as much income as I was one year ago. And so, affording to completely gut my diet and replace it with organic produce and pastured meats just wasn’t an option for me.

But I also know that on a mental and emotional level, easing into a completely new way of eating is much easier to handle, and it gives me plenty of time to discover new recipes to have in my cooking arsenal to make things easier.

What I gave up first

The first thing that I decided to do was to give up diet soft drinks. I am replacing those primarily with some good spring water or sparkling water for when I want some fizz. If I really need something sweet to drink, I will fix myself a cold organic decaf chai latte with whole raw milk or some fresh-squeezed lemonade, sweetened with raw honey. That took a little getting used to, and occasionally I get a craving, but it’s been pretty painless…..for the most part.

The second decision was to give up most of the processed snack foods. Those are almost gone now and now I’m looking at some traditional substitutions. I really love raw, unsalted almonds, and bananas with a little bit of homemade almond butter. I still have a small number of processed snacks, But I often find myself reaching for a piece of fruit, some cut veggies, or a handful of almonds to snack on instead. They just make me feel better. The processed foods leave me feeling sleepy and I tend to feel much yuckier when I consume too many highly processed foods.

Luckily for me, I had already cut out pretty much all fast food, and I really don’t miss it. If I am going to go for fast food, now I try to opt for better choices and avoid burgers and fries! I had to eat a meal this past week in which my only choice was pretty much a burger and fries. It was amazing how sluggish and gross it made me feel. I was actually craving fresh produce like crazy after this meal!

Canned goods…yes or no?

I’ve made the choice to not completely do away with canned goods. But I am cutting way back and using far more fresh and frozen. The few canned goods that I do use, come from companies that use BPA-free cans. But diced tomatoes that I use for cooking will be canned.

I have become an avid label reader. I will not put something in my shopping cart without knowing what is in it. It was shocking to me how much hidden sugar and chemicals are being smuggled into products that I would not expect it to be in. I avoid those products now. A little label reading can help you to find the products that are the cleanest and those you should avoid!

As I use up my old, processed foods, they are replaced with traditional options. I’ve found that these foods taste better, fill me up longer and give me more energy.

I am now eating about 60-70% whole food. I hope to be eating at 80-90% within another couple of months, if not sooner.

If you are looking to transition to a whole food diet, what can you do?

Reduce the amount of fast food you are consuming

Limit the number of times you drive through the drive-thru. Choose restaurants that have healthier food options using fresh local ingredients when possible. Eventually, work towards phasing fast food out completely. Once you do, you will discover quickly just how bad those foods make you feel if you consume them again!

Choose which foods you are going to ultimately give up

Then don’t buy any more of that item when you do your shopping. You don’t have to throw it away if you already have it in the cupboard. Use what you have, and don’t purchase any more. Simple!

Start moving away from boxed or packaged meals and start cooking from scratch

When eating a whole food diet, cooking from scratch is a necessity. There are lots of great recipes that are simple and quick. Find recipes that don’t take much more time than fixing a packaged meal. They are much healthier for you! And they taste better and are way more satisfying!

Read labels

It is one of the best habits you can get into when you’re shopping. There are lots of hidden chemicals, sugar, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and preservatives in so much packaged food. Know what you are buying and ultimately putting in your body. Knowledge is power, so educate yourself! Once you start reading labels, you will get angry at how much junk the food companies are selling to us. I did!

If you read a label and you can’t understand what the ingredients are then pass on that one and find one that has more simple ingredients!

It is okay to transition at a pace that works for you and your family. Whole food eating is about lifestyle change and is not a diet! If you transition slowly, you will be more likely to make those changes permanent. Don’t forget to have fun while discovering all of the new flavors of whole foods. They really are good…and good for you!

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