Eating Whole Foods
If your idea of a healthy breakfast is a low fat pop tart and a cup of coffee on the go, chances are the concept of eating a diet of whole foods seems pretty unrealistic and a little unappealing.
Most health advisers will tell you that to be truly healthy you need to stock your fridge and pantry with “one-ingredient” products. Broccoli, apples, bananas, yams, butter, milk, etc. It’s good advice, but if you grew up with a kitchen full of Kellogg’s, Totino’s and Dorito’s, the thought of having to cook or bake something just to have a midday snack can be a little overwhelming.
I’m one of those “go hard or go home” type people, so my goals for the whole food conversion are pretty high. I have to remind myself that every day is a work in progress, and we’re definitely much farther along in our journey to whole foods than we were a year ago. It’s kind of like life in general. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and sooner or later you’ll get there.
So for your journey, here are 7 steps you can take to incorporate more whole foods in your diet:
1. Wean yourself off of unhealthy beverages. If you drink soda, diet soda, or “crystal light” type drinks, start by replacing them with homemade lemonade, pure fruit juice or home brewed iced tea. Start adding at least one additional glass of pure water every day, then work your way to replacing as many of those drinks as possible with water.
2. Every month, identify one unhealthy food you rely on to cook with and begin replacing it with a “whole food” or healthier version. For example, if you cook with boxed “rice a roni” or “hamburger helper” type foods, find the original recipe and replace the box with whole food fresh ingredients. If you utilize canned vegetables, replace with fresh or frozen varieties. By the end of the year you’ll have incorporated 12 new health foods into your family’s diet!
3. Similarly, every month identify one unhealthy snack food you enjoy and find a whole food version to replace it with. If chips are your guilty pleasure, try air popped popcorn with grass fed butter and sea salt, roasted nuts, or toasted whole grain flat bread seasoned with olive oil and herbs. If you have a weakness for candy bars, look for a whole food nut bar (like the “Kind” bars you can find at Starbucks and Whole Foods – the sea salt, almond and dark chocolate bar is the bomb!), or make your own trail mix with nuts, dried fruit and a good quality dark chocolate.
4. If the cost of organic meat or grass fed butter is too much for your budget, try going in on a “cow buy” a “butter buy” with a group. Find your local Weston A. Price chapter (you can usually find a local group on Facebook) as members frequently coordinate a bulk purchase that you can join in on to get better pricing.
5. Similarly, if fresh organic produce is pushing your budget over the limit, or if you find yourself wasting fresh produce, try visiting your local farmers market near the end of the day and buy in bulk for a better deal, then freeze the excess for future meals. If you can’t find a local farmers market, start buying organic frozen vegetables.
6. If your family is stuck on white bread, or overly processed “enriched” wheat bread (that’s really just a brown colored white bread), try switching to a naturally fermented sourdough or sprouted wheat bread. The fermentation process of a good loaf of sourdough is better for your digestive tract, and sprouted wheat provides a higher level of digestible nutrients than processed wheat. Toasting both enhances the texture, and once you make the switch you’ll likely find you prefer it over the gummy consistency of overly processed wheat.
7. If you use a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners, try switching to organic sugar cane juice or organic raw sugar, barley malt syrup, a mild flavor honey (palmetto or sage aren’t too strong), maple syrup or coconut sugar. Stevia is also a great alternative, but watch out – the powdered versions found in most grocery stores are overly processed with chemicals and additives. You can find whole food versions of stevia at natural foods stores. Stevia is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, so use it sparingly – and obviously it can’t replace the volume of sugar in baked goods, so you’d need to find a “filler” such as applesauce or bananas when baking with it.
What do you think, will you try to incorporate any of these into your journey to whole foods? Do you have any other lessons learned on your journey to whole foods? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you!