Top 5 Tips for Eating More Wholefoods
‘Whole food’ is quite a buzzword these days, but what does it actually mean? Simply, it is going back to the concept of using raw, unmodified ingredients to create a meal rather than using ingredients that are commercially produced.
What are whole foods?
The term ‘whole food’ is usually applied to vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains with minimal processing. Whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables are all close to the state they were in when harvested and come loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre and other essential nutrients. But as the degree of processing and refining increases, the food’s nutritional value decreases.
Whole food can also apply to animal foods, too. Whole foods of animal origin include eggs, chicken, pork, fish, and red meat such as beef, lamb and veal. What you need to steer clear of are processed meats like hot dogs and lunchmeat.
Building healthy food cultures
As a dietitian and mum of three, I know that creating healthy meals and a healthy food culture in the home is important, yet equally as complex. But it is worth it! This diet enables us to consume foods at their peak nutrient density, which means we get more of the good stuff!
It also allows us to control the amount of additives into our family’s meals. Additives include preservatives and colours that can lead to allergies, difficult behaviours in children, and often a bunch of chemicals our bodies just don’t need.
With more processing, the likelihood that less-beneficial ingredients like fat, salt and sugar are included goes up and the likelihood of that vitamins and minerals are still present goes down. Ingredients such as sugar and salt are added to foods either to preserve a product or extend its shelf life, or to improve taste.
For example, breakfast cereals have been a large contributor to sugar intake for many years, because people’s taste perceptions are increasing for sweetness. There has been a shift in the food industry over the past five years as a response to the increasing health knowledge of consumers, however whole food eating allows us to make the decisions on how much sugar, salt, and artificial additives are added to our food supply.
So how do we incorporate more whole foods into our diet?
Here are my top 5 tips:
1. Choose more Fruit and Vegetables: Buy fresh and local produce where possible. Whole foods such as fruits and vegetables are packed full of phytochemicals and antioxidants, which are natural compounds that can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases. They also contain fibre to maintain optimal digestive health, which is highest in its unprocessed forms.
2. Involve the family in choosing ingredients or recipes – take the kids to the supermarket (if you are brave!) and ask them to choose a vegetable that they would like to use for dinner. They are more likely to eat it when they have been involved in the process. Remember, walking around the outside sections of the supermarket means that you will be more likely to choose whole foods.
3. Make small changes to easily reduce your intake of convenience or processed foods. For example, make a homemade granola instead of buying a commercial granola, this will reduce the list of additives and will also most likely reduce the sugar content (depending on the recipe). It’s also cheaper!
4. Try new ingredients – we are creatures of habit, so we tend to get stuck in eating the same types of foods because it requires less thinking. Try our amazing Mummies on a Mission recipes, grab the free recipe magazines available at most supermarkets, or look up new recipes on your favourite cooking website.
5. Plan Ahead! Meal planning is one of the most successful ways of eating more whole foods, because it allows you time to create your week’s worth of dinners and school lunches. Planning and shopping ahead will guarantee that you have the ingredients available to make your meals and snacks from whole foods, rather than grabbing a quick convenient option which may not be the best choice.
For some great whole food ideas, check out our Recipes section and enjoy your new healthy lifestyle!
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