Whole foods is not only a grocery chain in the United States; it refers to foods that only have one ingredient. Prioritizing them in your diet can help you jump start your weight loss and nutrition goals.
Basically whole foods are foods that are not processed or very minimally processed and they have just one ingredient. Think of fruits or vegetables, for example. Nuts and seeds are in this category, too, as are lean proteins, such as chicken, beef, or fish. While most whole foods are all natural, you can find them frozen or canned, as well. Be sure to always check the label. If it has more than one ingredient, it may not be a whole food.
How do whole foods help with weight management?
Whole foods have essential nutrients that we all need to be healthy and well. Ever hear the phrase, “eat the rainbow?” It’s referring to choosing a variety of whole foods of all different colors. The colors actually correspond to different types of vitamins and minerals. The more varied our whole food choices, the more nutrient rich our diet, and the healthier we are.
For my family, I choose different whole foods to make up our weekly meals. I might do chicken one night, beef another, plus I switch up the vegetables and grains we have with dinner.
The other benefit to whole foods is they are high in fiber, which is good for your heart! Fiber also promotes healthy digestion by keeping your gut healthy and helping improve bowel movements. Fiber helps you feel fuller so you end up eating less. In fact whole foods on the “whole” are more filling than processed foods because they tend to be higher in fiber and water content. This helps you control your appetite and manage your portion sizes.
Foods that are processed can sometimes lead to overeating and/or sugar spikes and energy crashes. Prioritizing whole foods provides a steady source of energy that can get you through the day feeling your best.
Where are the whole foods?
Whole foods can be found on the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s where you typically find fruits, vegetables, lean meats, dairy products, and grains. If you do venture into the interior aisles, read those labels! Look for foods with minimal ingredients and avoid those with long lists of extras, especially if you can’t pronounce the words or don’t know what they are!
If you can, consider growing a garden or shopping at local farms and markets. Those who live in warmer climates have year-round access to fresh, locally-sourced food. Take advantage of that!
Can I still eat out?
You can still eat out but try to cook at home the majority of the time. This way you know exactly what you are eating and can control your portions. Restaurant chefs don’t share their ingredients or cooking methods so you really can’t be sure what you’re getting. There are many websites that feature recipes, using whole food ingredients. Whole30 is probably the most famous one. Busy families will benefit from investing in an instant pot, crockpot, and/or air fryer to help get food on the table more efficiently.
Do I have to avoid all processed foods?
You don’t have to completely give them up but reducing them will surely help. They are engineered to make you eat more. Think about it. According to Lays, a bag of potato chips uses approximately four to five potatoes. How many people can house a bag of potato chips like it’s nothing? But, try eating four or five potatoes! I bet you can’t. That’s the “magic” of processed foods.
It’s best to follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time, eat whole foods. If you do venture into the processed foods realm, pay attention to portion sizes. Don’t eat from the bag or container and avoid mindless eating while scrolling on your phone or watching a movie.
By prioritizing whole foods, you can transform your eating habits leading to improved health, increased energy, and better nutrition. It’s a simple, powerful approach to weight loss. Give it a try!