The Wholefood Approach
If you have ever been on a specific diet, you would know that there are sometimes many rules to follow, not to mention the time intensive task of counting calories, or working out your macros such as how much protein, carbohydrates and fat you are allowed to consume.
Making wholefoods the main part of your diet is simple. The list you were previously provided with outlines all the food options available to you. The key is to eat a diet RICH in these foods and a diverse range. This means that whilst it is beneficial that you eat broccoli and spinach every day – it is even more beneficial to eat a different range of wholefoods – so instead of just broccoli and spinach with your dinner – add in beans, grains and other vegetables. When our bodies are provided with a high amount of wholefoods, and a diverse range – you are providing it with nutrients that do so many incredible things to your body.
So how much exactly should we be eating and which food groups should we be focusing on? There are some of those food groups that you should eat more of, and other food groups that you should eat less of. The Food Pyramid below outlines this:
From bottom to top:
Bottom Level –
The majority of the food you eat every day should come in the form of VEGETABLES! Try to include as much leafy greens as you can, such as broccoli, kale, spinach, bok choy etc. The rest should be a variety of vegetables, as diverse as possible.
It is also recommended to eat a range of fruits. Try to include berries each day. This can be fresh or frozen berries.
Second Level –
Grains should be the next most consumed food each day, this can be any of the grains listed in the Grocery List, and/or a combination of these grains. Always choose whole unrefined grains to ensure you are getting the most nutrients out of the food.
Third Level –
The next food group should consist of smaller portions than the ones mentioned above, but still consumed on a daily basis. This includes beans/legumes, as well as tofu and tempeh, plus high-fat whole foods which include nuts, seeds, avocados and olives.
Top Level –
These foods should be consumed the least (if at all) and they include oils and all processed food.
A note about oil:
Although oil typically comes from a wholefood such as olives, avocado, coconut, vegetables etc, it is a highly processed food. Oil goes through a process that removes all of the wholefood’s nutrients and extracts the fat, the result is a product that has limited nutrients and very high levels of fat. Even varieties of oil that in recent years have claims to be healthy, such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil are still highly processed, contain limited nutrients and are very high in calories. For this reason, it is recommended to limit/remove oil from the diet, where possible. As oil is a staple in the kitchen this may seem difficult, however there are countless ways to cook without oil, and most of the time the end result is the same.
The diagram below refers to calorie density, meaning the amount of calories in a certain type of food given its portion or weight. The diagram refers to 400 calories of each food. As can be seen, 400 calories of oil equals a very small portion, but 400 calories of fruit and vegetables on the other hand includes a much larger portion. Due to this, consuming 400 calories of fruit and vegetables will most likely fill the stomach and leave you feeling full and satisfied. However, consuming 400 calories of the other foods will not fill the stomach and will leave you feeling unsatisfied or have you consuming more food and thus calories.
Foods that are the lowest in calorie density includes wholefoods, therefore by consuming these foods you are able to feel full and satisfied on fewer calories. This is especially important if your goal is to lose weight.
The Guide above is a good way to check that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs to function at 100% – however the aim is that once you start to get use to eating this way you won’t need to pay too much attention to the guide – because it will start to become natural to you to eat these foods. Then the only rule to follow is that you are nourishing your body with a range of these foods on a daily basis.
The majority of what you eat every day/week/month should be coming from a wholefood source, and in the quantities provided above. This does not mean you can never go out to eat, eat your favourite unhealthy foods, have a glass of wine/beer or indulge. It simply means that what counts the most is that the MAJORITY of what you eat is coming from a healthy, wholefood source. When you eat like this, over time your body will naturally want and crave these foods.
Sample Meal Planner
With many other nutrition programs, the first thing they will supply you with is a meal plan and sometimes a grocery list to go with it. The idea is in the few days before the program begins, you go to the supermarket to buy all the ingredients needed and once the program begins you work through cooking all the recipes in the mealplan.
The Thrive program does not take this approach for a number of reasons – the main one being it is simply not sustainable. The meals in these type of mealplans are also likely to be ones that you are not familiar with, ones which you may not necessarily like and meals that you did not come up with yourself – therefore you are simply making meals that someone else decided on. The other reason why the Thrive program does not focus solely on mealplans is because it disconnects you from eating based on how you feel. For example, if you have had a long day at work and don’t particularly feel like eating a big dinner, or perhaps you had a big lunch – but on your mealplan it shows that you now need to cook a big bowl of pasta – most people would cook it because that’s what their meal plan says. Just like the meal plans show what to eat for snacks, when it’s likely you might not be hungry or even want a snack. This disconnects people from eating based on how their body is feeling.
Therefore the Thrive program approach focuses on the education side of nutrition and provides you with the tools to eating healthy, it also encourages you to eat a diet rich in certain food groups, rather than specifically stating what you can and cannot eat. However to give you an idea of what a typical mealplan looks like, it has been provided. Please note the information above is just a sample, I encourage you to pick and choose which meals look good to you. Some people like variety in their meals, so each meal is different, however other people value convenience and are happy to use leftovers to have for another meal, for example having leftover dinner for lunch the next day, or having the same breakfast each day so they don’t need to plan different types of breakfasts. This is completely up to you.
I encourage you to make bigger portions whenever you cook so you have leftovers, this way you have ready made meals in the fridge or freezer for whenever you are limited on time, or you can use certain ingredients in other meals. For example, if you make roasted vegetables one night, you can add in extra veggies and save them for another meal such as a roasted cauliflower salad, this way the only preparation for this second meal is putting some greens together (and any other veggies like avo, capsicum etc) and adding the cauliflower. This is what I call getting two meals for the price of one! It is a good habit to get into to start thinking about how you can create two meals from one. This will save you time in the kitchen.
There are also many online recipe tools that allow you to save your favourite recipes to create your own e-recipe book. This is a great way to start a collection of go-to recipes each week which you can refer to when deciding on what to cook.
Click here to start creating one now through Copy Me That.
Another great resource to getting recipes is through Social Media. Many chefs and online bloggers post recipes, this is a great tool for inspiration on different meals to cook.
As a start, have a look at the recipes posted on my website – Thrive For Life Recipes. Select 1-2 recipes that you would like to try over the next week. Throughout the course of the program you will receive many more recipes so stay tuned! We will also talk about amending the recipes you already know and love to make them more wholefood based and healthier.