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People choose to eat whole, real foods for different reasons. For some, it is about gaining health by avoiding the chemical additives that are found in highly processed, packaged foods. For others, it is about losing weight and reclaiming health. No matter what your reason, it is all about a healthier lifestyle and is not a diet.
Eating this way is about eating foods that are in their natural state, or as close to it as possible. This means incorporating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fermented foods, pasture-fed raw dairy, and organic pasture-fed meats and seafood. It is about cutting out unhealthy fats and replacing them with oils that include health benefits.
Every person who adopts a whole foods lifestyle has to make a choice about what degree they will follow this way of eating.
Here are the basic guidelines for eating nutrient-rich, whole, real foods.
1. No white processed flour! This flour has no nutritional value and is to be avoided completely. It is best to use whole grains that have been prepared traditionally. Grains cause a significant amount of digestive issues, so we recommend soaking them, sprouting them, or fermenting them for better digestion, which is how our ancestors prepared grains to eat.
2. Avoid processed sugar-replacing regular granulated sugar with natural sweeteners such as honey, Stevia, coconut or palm sugar/nectar, and Sucanat (sugar cane natural). The idea is to limit these sweeteners some, but they are not off limits. There are some real food eaters who choose to avoid any sweeteners altogether.
3. Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies! When it comes to vegetables and fruits, fresh is always best. Check your local farmer’s market or organic grocer for large selections of great produce. So what if you can’t eat fresh all of the time? As I said before, you have to choose the level of real food eating that you follow. The next best choice for produce is the frozen variety. But I add a caveat…..read the label! A lot of frozen fruit has added sugar and you also want to avoid veggies that have any added sauces. Look for as few ingredients as possible. I have a package of frozen organic strawberries that has one ingredient…..strawberries! That is real food, frozen fruit!
So, what about canned fruits and veggies? It is really best to avoid them if possible since many cans are lined with BPA, a toxic plastic. For those who really don’t want to do without using some, it is really important to read labels. I was shocked and a bit disgusted at how many canned veggies contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup! Yikes!! Canned veggies that have seasonings (including salt) often contain sugar too. I’ve found that unsalted varieties are often just veggie and water. You can add a little sea salt while cooking. With canned veggies, look for those without added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Canned fruit packed in juice or water is the best bet. Also, look for a brand that uses BPA-free linings in their cans. Some brands like Eden Foods have stopped using it, and carry a line of canned beans, tomatoes, fruits, and more.
4. Become a label reading expert. You are the only one that can control what you put in your body. And you will be shocked to see just how many chemical additives and artificial coloring and flavors fill your favorite foods. If you read a label and don’t know what it is, then it’s probably not healthy for you.
5. Enjoy quality meat- Some men may be concerned that the transition to eating real food will mean giving up their steak. But that’s simply not true. You can still enjoy plenty of meats, but if you can, purchase from local farmers when possible. And stay away from prepackaged meat if you can (you never know what’s in there). If your wallet really can handle it, look for organic, free-range, grass-fed meats that are antibiotic-free. These are the healthiest types of meat, but they are definitely the most expensive. Do stay away from highly processed meats, such as packaged lunch meat and hot dogs. There are some lunch meats and hot dogs that are nitrate free and cleaner and you can find them at many grocery stores now. It’s all about reading the labels!
6. Enjoy dairy-yes, you can have dairy, but it is much better to choose raw first, or non-homogenized varieties. If you have to choose store-bought, go for whole milk (not organic, which has been ultra-pasteurized). So it’s okay to have a glass of milk. Cheese, eggs, yogurt, and cottage cheese are all fine. Just make sure that they are pure, and have no additives.
7. Drink plenty of water! It is so important to keep your body hydrated, so get yourself some good spring water (or any filtered water…it’s best to avoid tap water if you can because of all of the chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride).
8. Listen to your body and eat when you are hungry.
9. Adding Lacto-fermented foods. Kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchee, and other Lacto-fermented foods are great for healing your digestive tract.
Remember, it’s all about fewer ingredients and eating food in as pure a form as possible. If your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as an ingredient, then, by all means, don’t eat it!
It’s perfectly okay to transition to a whole foods diet gradually. That’s what we did at our house and it worked very well for us.
Enjoy your new way of eating!
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