The Wholefood Approach
Wholefoods - what are they?
Today we are going to cover wholefoods, explore exactly what they are and the benefits of consuming them.
So what exactly is a wholefood?!
Plant-based foods that are in their natural state
and are not processed or refined.
This includes vegetables, fruits, wholegrains (think rice, oats, quinoa etc), legumes (beans), seeds, nuts, herbs and spices.
There is an ABUNDANCE of food options when it comes to wholefoods and this is what you will learn over the course of the program!
Nourishing our body with a diverse range of wholefoods is a fantastic way to ensure we are getting all the nutrients we need, and when our bodies are full of healthy nutrients – it affects how we feel each day, our overall and long term health, as well as the prevention of chronic diseases.
There is loads of reliable scientific evidence to support this.
We can also understand this by looking at the different types of wholefoods. These foods contain all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Therefore by consuming these foods, our bodies are getting exactly what it needs, in the right package, and can therefore function at an optimal level.
Take an apple for example, it is made up of a whole host of nutrients, this includes vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fibre. Our bodies know exactly what to do with this when we eat it.
Unfortunately, our food system has moved away from whole natural foods, such as vegetables, fruits, grains – to foods that are highly processed and contain limited nutrients. This means every time we consume these foods, we are not only putting unhealthy foods into our body, but we are forgoing the healthy nutrients found in wholefoods.
In addition to this, there is a myriad of complex information surrounding nutrition and marketers take advantage of this by making you believe highly processed foods are healthy, low in sugar, low in fat and are good for you, simply to get you to purchase their product. They commonly use wholefood ingredients to try to convince you a highly processed product is healthy.
Today the majority of people are getting most of their energy from processed foods.
The result is that most people aren’t getting the nutrients their body needs, and therefore don’t feel 100% each day. This also leads to a new normal in which people think that feeling lethargic, low energy and tired is normal and they don’t have control in feeling better. The other side of this is people who might not necessarily feel low in energy, because they have gotten use to a certain level of energy and believe that to be normal – without realising they could have much more energy and be functioning at a more optimal level.
The good news is you do have control! And you don’t need to try to make sense of all the misinformation out there. This program outlines the best diet for your body, and it just so happens to be one that is SIMPLE, EASY, the MOST OPTIMAL for your health, not to mention full of an abundance of delicious foods!
The SIMPLE equation is
In order for our bodies to operate at 100%, it needs:
And the most nutrient dense foods are
One last point to make:
Where does meat/dairy/eggs fit in? There is no comparison between animal- based foods and wholefood when it comes to nutrients. Wholefoods are naturally packaged with a wide range of nutrients that our bodies thrive off, plus they are lower in calories. On the other hand whilst animal-based products do contain certain nutrients, they tend to have concentrated amounts of individual nutrients but then are low or deficient in others, they are also more calorie dense than wholefoods. In addition to this some of these products contain unhealthy components such as saturated fats, cholesterol and other harmful properties that are shown to cause and increase the likelihood of chronic diseases. The wholefood approach doesn’t follow an all or nothing approach, so the key is to eat a diet RICH in wholefoods, so you are providing your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive.
Top 3 takeaways:
- Wholefoods contain all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals our bodies need.
- By consuming nutrient dense wholefoods, our bodies operate at an optimal level.
- There is an abundance of food options when consuming wholefoods.
This list below gives you an idea of the foods that should be making up the majority of your diet on a daily basis. Please note that the list is not exhaustive and the availability/variety is dependent on location/season.
The key to the wholefood approach is consuming a diverse range of the foods listed below, you should aim to eat a lot of different foods each week and from all these groups. This means that each time you go to buy your groceries, it is recommended to choose some different wholefoods. For example, if last week you ate black beans and kidney beans, this week you could buy chickpeas or lentils. If last week you bought apples, this week you could buy pears. It doesn’t all need to be different, but add in some variety so your body is getting a whole host of different nutrients. The more diversity in your diet, the more nutrients you are providing your body to build a healthy system!
*Avocado is technically a fruit
**Peas are technically a bean
Legumes are plants that bear fruit that grow in pods, where as beans are the seeds from a different variety of plants. To simplify this, we will use the terms ‘legumes/beans’ interchangeably.
(green, red, yellow)
(Almond, Oat, Soy, Cashew, Coconut)
(Almond, Peanut, Cashew)
Start a List
Identify at least 2-3 foods from each of these categories that you either have not tried before, or that you haven’t eaten in a while. Over the course of program, start adding them to your diet. You will be provided with lots of recipes over the coming weeks so you can look out for recipes that include these foods.
Have never heard of something on the list? Write it down and ask me next time we chat.
Tips on buying/preparing food:
When it comes to buying and preparing food, some people do a weekly or fortnightly shop, others go a couple of times per week, some people go to multiple places to get their groceries and others do it all online. There is no ONE best way – but it is important to find what works best for you and fits in with your lifestyle.
In addition to this, whether you enjoy doing your grocery shop/preparing meals or you see it as a chore – it is really beneficial to have a system in place. Whilst you don’t need to spend enormous amounts of time each day/week on this activity, it is encouraged that you invest a little bit of time especially at the beginning when you are developing healthy habits. When you eat healthy you feel good and your health improves, so spending time buying and preparing food each week really is an investment in your health.
Here are some quick tips to assist you, we will also talk about some of these in more detail during the program :
- Always try to buy what is in season, this allows you to buy fresh, local produce that is cost efficient. These days it can be hard to keep track of exactly what is in season because most supermarkets sell seasonal produce all year round. A trick to know what is in season is to see what the seller has a lot of and what is on special. It’s good to shop at farmer’s markets for this reason.
- Taking time to store food properly will save on food waste. A lot of people make the mistake of simply throwing their fruit and veggies into the crisper drawer, only to then throw out food that has gone bad a few days later. Most fresh produce will last a long time if it’s in the right environment. For fruit and vegetables that go in the fridge, put them in airtight containers or wrap in plastic bags with a rubber band (you can use old bread bags, zip lock bags etc). Store dry items in airtight containers in the cupboard. Keep an eye on fruit and vegetables and put them in the freezer if they look like they are going bad – many fruit and vegetables can be kept in the freezer, this can then be used in smoothies.
- If you normally do your shop on the weekend and have limited time during the week, you can cut up certain fruit and vegetables and keep them in airtight containers to save cutting them up before cooking.
- Buying dry beans is much more cost efficient than cooked beans in cans, however it does require longer cooking time. You can batch cook beans and keep them in the fridge or freezer until you need them.
- In most cases frozen fruit and vegetables are just as nutrient dense as fresh, so this is a good option where the fresh version is much more expensive or not in season/available. These days you can get so many different varieties of fruit and vegetables from the frozen section.
- Ready made grains in packets are also available generally at a higher price than uncooked grains. It is best to cook them yourself to ensure there are no added oils, preservatives etc. Cook a larger batch of the grain than you need so you can use throughout the week or freeze for a later time.
- Nuts and seeds may seem a little expensive but because these are generally used in small amounts, they last a long time. Always buy unsalted versions. You can add salt later, but the salted ones tend to have very high amounts of salt.
- Freeze any leftover fresh herbs in a zip-lock bag to use for another time.
The key to ensure your success in eating healthy is preparation. This may include looking at what recipes you will cook during the week and making a shopping list to ensure you purchase everything you need. Don’t worry though, as with anything new, it takes a little longer time at the start, but once you start learning more, this will get easier and take less time.
Have any questions about the information you read today? Write them down and either send them to me or bring them up in our next session.
Write down your top 3 takeaways from what you read today. What are some things you learnt and would like to start incorporating into your diet?