Have you ever tried to decide between going vegan, paleo, gluten free, low fat, low carb, or, raw and finally just quit the whole healthy eating thing altogether? I’ve heard this way too often and feel that I need to address an important first step: real food.
For years, self-proclaimed nutrition and health “gurus” have been vilifying one specific nutrient or food group and subsequently making a killing off of their hot new diet that eliminates it. Unfortunately, the food industry takes advantage of our confusion by selling more processed foods that fit the fad but lack nutrition.
It’s easy to get caught up in the nuances of food and nutrition but fad diets rarely get at the real problem. In reality, a poor diet is usually one that is particularly lacking in whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Scientists constantly conclude that the healthiest people in the world are those who stick to whole foods (1). This is mostly because eating a whole foods diet generally provides more antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, and other important compounds. A whole foods diet also limits problematic compounds like artificial fats/additives and sugar.
But this doesn’t mean your kitchen needs to be completely void of anything with a wrapper. I often keep a few store-bought items around, like organic jarred pasta sauce, prepared soups, tortillas, and Ezekiel bread. When purchasing store-bought items, look for a whole foods-based ingredient list, limited added sweeteners, and limited additives and chemicals. Organic is best but it’s okay to use some conventional products too.
(While on the subject of organic, I love Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list for a quick reference on the produce items that tend to contain the most pesticides. Try to get organic versions of items on this list if possible.)
When it comes to diets, I can almost guarantee that focusing on adding more whole foods instead of limiting specific nutrients will give you a much better chance of reaching your health goals. Seriously, be cautious of any guru or food company trying to tell you otherwise.
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Interested in learning how you can use more whole foods in your kitchen? Check out my recipes page for lots of tasty and nourishing options!