What exactly is a Nutrient Dense, Whole Foods Diet?
As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I always recommend for the foundation of great health to be a nutrient dense, whole foods diet. What does this mean?
Choosing foods as close to their natural state as possible. Now, this doesn’t mean we don’t make delicious, amazing recipes with foods, it just means that when you choose to eat something make sure it is made with whole food ingredients. Instead of choosing a breakfast cereal with a list of ingredients 28 items long, half of which you can’t pronounce, choose eggs and bacon for breakfast- two whole foods.
Think of whole foods as this: if you place a food in your hand, how many ingredients does it have? Is it just one? Then it's a whole food. Has it been processed? NOT a whole food. Now, when looking at recipes, we need to look for whole food ingredients, which gets a little trickier. The more you look at food labels, the better you'll get at spying the impostors.
Whole foods diets offer many health benefits. Not only is it much more nutritious, the vitamins and minerals are in their most bio-available form (meaning the body can utilize them much easier than synthetic vitamins and minerals often added to processed foods) and it will keep you fuller longer (with all those healthy fats and fiber!). Whole foods also lack all of the processing changes associated with packaged foods. When you significantly process foods, they lose a large amount of their natural vitamins and minerals. These then have to be added back to the foods in a synthetic form which are less digestible and usable by the body. They also often use unhealthy fats, as they're much cheaper than the healthy, whole food fat options. These unhealthy fats are again unusable by the body and can actually cause harm to your cells and intestinal lining. All the more reason to choose whole foods in your diet!
Transitioning to this way of eating from the Standard American Diet (SAD) can be quite challenging (read my tips HERE), but it’s definitely doable and well worth it. Feeding your body healthy foods will improve your health in ways you might not have even noticed needed improved. Instead of seeing junk foods as treats, look at them as punishments for your body- they give you no nutritional value and set back your health goals.
Choosing healthy foods is easy once you know what to look for. It may be stressful and confusing at first, but making small changes is the best way to tackle a diet change.
Here’s a quick list of foods to eat on a regular basis-
Vegetables- preferably the non-starchy ones like broccoli, kale, carrots, tomatoes, etc.
Fruits- in moderation between meals for healthy snacks or desserts. Eat the whole fruits (not juice!) to enjoy the benefits of the fiber
Protein Sources- Organic, pasture raised beef, pork, veal, chicken. Choose fattier cuts of meat sometimes, as our bodies thrive on healthy fats, plus they're cheaper than the lean cuts!
Fish and Shellfish- Salmon, lobster, crab etc at least a few times a week to get those Omega 3's
Nuts and seeds- Cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds etc. for more healthy fats
Dairy- Whole fat Milk and cheese products
Fermented foods- Kombucha, Keifer, pickled foods (think sauerkraut!)
Healthy fats and oils- lard, butter, olive oil, ghee
And what to Avoid:
Low Fat or Fat Free versions of anything- Always choose full fat versions as fat free and reduced fat version have to be more highly processed AND fats are good for you!
Alcohol/Juice/Soda- Try to drink more water, as these are diuretics- meaning they actually dehydrate you
Processed foods- Ingredient lists of more than 5 items, unless you KNOW they are whole food sources
Processed Grains- white bread, pasta, desserts, junk food- these are full of empty calories and little nutritional value
Sugary foods- Candy, cookies, cake, ice cream- so.much.sugar!
Hydrogenated oils- soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, vegetable oil- these are very highly processed and the body cannot utilize them.
If you're interested in making a switch to a nutritious, delicious whole foods diet, I can help you on your journey and guide you with food recommendations, recipes and meal planning. Contact me today to set up a consultation!