Eat only real whole foods, no processed foods!
This week we get serious. First, we removed added sugar from our diets. Now it’s all about removing anything that resembles food, but is not a real food. I call them Frankenfoods. These are most processed foods that people THINK are real foods, but I am going to show you they are not. We are then going to replace them with healthy nutritious whole foods.
Whole foods are foods that grow and live and the food pretty much resembles what it was when it was grown without having been through much processing. Take broccoli, spinach, a tomato, etc. You pretty much eat those things as they are. Know that pretty much everything else is processed. Eating raw whole foods is the best way to eat to make sure you are getting all the nutrition. BUT DON’T FRET. I am not telling you to go raw unless you want to.
So what about meat? Well obviously you need to cook the meat and it really isn’t exactly “whole”. Not to get gross, but think of a steak as pretty much as it was in nature. An apple is a whole food if you eat it as an apple. Eating applesauce is technically a processed food (though not bad if you make it yourself and control the ingredients) but eating a piece of an apple is kind of like eating a steak, it’s a portion of the original whole thing. So if you choose to eat beef, poultry, fish, etc. go ahead and enjoy. There are some reasons (like carcinogens) you may want to limit your meat and not burn it nor eat it well done, but that is another topic for a later lesson.
For our purposes spices are whole foods. Basil leaves, mint leaves, etc. are fresh whole foods, even if you chop them. Although dried spices are technically processed, that’s not the kind of processing we are talking about. Always try to use fresh herbs for your cooking, but it’s understandable to have dried versions on hand for convenience.
Speaking of chopping, chopping foods for salads and recipes are fine. However pulverizing is kind of another issue. That’s processed. Many times overly grinding or blending especially dry goods removes some of the benefits and therefore no longer qualifies as a whole food. Let’s take oatmeal for example. Whole grain steel cut oatmeal is somewhat healthy. Instant oatmeal is pulverized and processed to the point of losing its health benefits and actually becoming unhealthy. This is why instant oatmeal can cook in 5 minutes or even less in a microwave.
Another example is smoothies and juice. Juice removes most fiber from the food so the juice goes right your bloodstream as sugar. Many people say this is healthy because you get the vitamins immediately into your system. True. However, you’re also getting the immediate influx of sugar which we don’t want to occur, especially for diabetics. Diabetics want the sugar from fruits to get into their system slowly so they don’t get the sugar spikes associated with high sugar and fructose foods. Smoothies keep most of the fiber though it does break it down slightly. So for the purposes of our eating plan, eat whole real fruits and vegetables. If you want a way to get more fruits and veggies in your diet, make smoothies but eat in moderation. Try to also put some fiber rich veggies in with your fruit smoothies like Kale and Spinach. But stay away from juices. Juices in the stores are full of sugar and added ingredients and juices and smoothies lose some of their vitamins right after processing. Drink them right away and don’t save them for later but keep in mind even juices made at home are still pure juice (sugar) and no fiber. Don’t eat canned veggies or fruit. Frozen is OK if flash frozen whole but even that loses nutrition. Fresh is best if local in season. Frozen of out of season or transported a long distance. Why? Because fresh vegetables and fruits are picked unripe so they survive the long shipping process, thereby losing nutrition. Frozen are picked ripe and immediately flash frozen keeping the nutrition.
I need to point out one more thing in relation to smoothies and juices. Chewing is part of the digestive process. Enzymes start to break down foods in your mouth. Drinking smoothies and especially juices doesn’t allow that process to happen. Enjoy smoothies in moderation, but always try to “chew” them a little and eat them slowly.
What about those healthy nut and protein bars? Unless they are made with just real whole foods, don’t eat them. For example, many KIND bars are just whole foods formed into a bar, but not all. Try making your own snack bars instead. All junk food, anything in a can, box, premade, etc. are processed foods. Yes, those “shakes” you think are healthy are processed foods. Stay away. Make a smoothie instead and add greens in with fruits for added fiber and vitamins.
If you stick with real whole foods and no processed foods (and maybe keep away from highly starchy foods) you’ll be doing pretty good, with no counting or deprivation. Eat away.