WHAT IS A WHOLE FOOD...EXACTLY?May 04, 2022
A message that I always preach to my clients is: EAT WHOLE FOODS.
It’s easy to assume that we all know exactly what that means, but in this modern world full of processed & packaged foods that are marketed as “healthy” and “whole,” I think a little clarification is warranted.
Before you toss a food item in your grocery cart, or into your mouth, consider where that food come from. Get curious about what its’ life was like before it arrived on the grocery store shelf. Then, use this check list to gauge whether or not that food is worthy of making it into your pantry or fridge:
Can you imagine it growing?
It is easy to conjure a mental image of a field of strawberries, or a trellis of green beans….but how about a field of Cheerios, or an Oreo tree? Umm…nope. I had a beautiful garden when my son was younger, and he would pick sun ripened cherry tomatoes, or cucumbers straight off of the vine. I loved how he understood that real food comes from the earth.
How many ingredients does this food have?
A whole food has only one ingredient—itself. There is no label necessary; no marketing campaign or cool logo needed for basic foods like chicken, quinoa, cherries, or Swiss Chard.
How has the food been altered since it’s been harvested?
This is where modern foods get super sketchy. The majority of foods in a typical grocery store do not resemble anything found in nature, although great marketing will surely try and convince you otherwise. Today, foods are refined, bleached, hydrogenated, chemically treated, irradiated, gassed, and stripped of the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that our bodies crave. Not only are these foods devoid of nutrition, they are so overly manipulated that they rob our bodies of additional resources when we consume them.
Here’s how we can do better for our bodies:
Become a detective.
Read the list of ingredients on the label: if you can’t pronounce something or can’t imagine it growing, don’t eat it. If it’s not something that you could possibly make in your kitchen or grow in your garden, make a different choice.
Become a historian.
Ask yourself how long this food has been known to nourIsh humans. Sounds intense, but what about a criterion of a thousand years, or at least a couple of hundred? Putting something on my toast or in my tea that the FDA approved last month warrants caution. Most whole foods have been on the dinner table for centuries.
Become a farmer.
Okay, that one’s a bit far fetched, but do consider growing some of your own herbs and veggies. It’s easier than you think. In fact, a great gal to follow on Instagram for edible gardening and tips is: @the.farmista.
And if cultivating your own raised bed of lettuces or carrots is out of the question, do the next best thing: shop your local Farmer’s Market! I know I say this all the time, but locally grown, freshly picked veggies pack a more powerful nutrient punch than the offerings in your grocery store….(that have been sitting in a warehouse for too long). Many small farms do not spray, even if they are not certified organic, so ask questions and get to know your farmer.
Bottom line: Simpler is better. Whole is healthier. Unprocessed is preferred. Follow these tips as you navigate the grocery store maze….and better yet, shop that Farmer’s Market! If you do, take a pic and tag me on Insta: @life_by_loriz. I’d love to see you!