Jenny Craig, Atkins, South Beach, Vegan and Mediterranean there are so many diet choices, how do you know which one will work for you? America is obsessed with losing weight, data by Marketdata Enterprises, a market research firm that specializes in tracking niche industries shows, Americans spend north of $60 billion annually to try to lose pounds, on everything from paying for gym memberships and joining weight-loss programs to drinking diet soda. (U.S. News) And yet after spending $60 billion dollars annually, a study released in June 2013 by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization shows America is the second fattest country in the Western hemisphere just recently being surpassed by Mexico. Obesity is an epidemic easily solved, stop buying into the instant gratification of diet pills that are selling false hope and profiting on your low self-esteem. Change the way you shop and think about food. Eat whole foods.
What are whole foods? Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined. Foods that are in their most natural form like an apple versus apple sauce for example would be a whole food. Some other examples of whole foods are whole grains (quinoa, wild rice), fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, unprocessed meats (grass fed, free range), fish, dairy, and eggs. What are processed foods? Foods that have been treated or prepared by a special method in order to preserve them (cereal, frozen food, granola bars), also known as convenience foods. But why are whole foods better for you than processed foods? Nutritionist Tara Gidus explains, “When you eat whole foods, you’re getting the food in its natural state, you’re getting it intact, with all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are in the food.” The problem with processed foods is that during the manufacturing process many of the healthy nutrients are removed. Let me share a little of my personal experience with changing to the whole food diet.
In 2011 I found myself weighing 240 pounds. I was sick, tired and depressed. I couldn’t stand looking at myself and was embarrassed to go out in public. I had gained 100 pounds since meeting my husband in 2005 and the quality of my life was in the dumps. I had major digestive problems and spent thousands of dollars at the doctors on uncomfortable tests to then have them tell me there was nothing physically wrong with me. I spent the greater portion of my 20’s being fat and unhappy with myself. All of that changed when I decided to see a naturopath. The first thing she did was an allergy test to show me all the foods I was sensitive to. The list was quite long but the main vibe was sugars, corn being a huge trigger. Corn is in everything. Her diagnosis, remove these items from your diet and you will no longer be sick. This is how I was first introduced to the whole foods diet.
It was hard at first training my brain to read every label and question every ingredient, to find new recipes and to try to curb the cravings. I used the rule if I couldn’t pronounce what was in it I didn’t eat it. The hard work and dedication paid off I lost 80 pounds in eight months just by changing my diet to whole foods (I wasn’t even exercising at that point). I knew I wasn’t trying a new diet; I was making a lifestyle change. Knowing exactly what I am putting inside of my body has empowered me mentally and physically. So what does a typical daily menu look like for me? Breakfast consists of some quinoa made with coconut milk and a cup of coffee. In between lunch I have a piece of fruit. I usually eat a salad for lunch and a midafternoon snack of almonds. Dinner is a 4 ounce grass fed NY steak, broccoli, and a green smoothie usually with kale, blueberries, banana, and flax seed. I am not going to lie: my diet is pretty plain but there are a lot of creative people that have come up with some amazing recipes. Also once you switch your diet and have been on it for a while you notice you don’t need as much food as you used to. And yes I am still human and cheat once in a while but I usually pay for it with what I call a food hangover.
Unlike Weight Watchers, Atkins or Metabolife the whole foods diet isn’t some new fad that is going to waste your money. It is actually how humans ate 100 years ago before the introduction of convenience foods. There are other benefits to eating whole foods other than weight loss, WebMD states,” Many health experts believe that eating more whole foods is our best bet for improving health and preventing disease. Whole foods – like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes — retain their fiber as well as the whole portfolio of beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients that are often removed in processed foods.” You might hear the argument that it is too expensive to eat healthy, but when you are only buying the food you need it actually saves you money. There are also some creative ways to help curb the cost of whole foods. You can join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where you get a box of miscellaneous fruits and vegetables every week from a local farm, shop at farmers markets, or the local Food Co-op. If you are really adventurous, you can start a small vegetable garden of your own.
The more unnatural processed foods we eat, the harder our bodies will have to work to try to process them, creating health problems. Think of it like a car: you wouldn’t put water in the gas tank and expect it to run properly so why put processed foods in your body and expect it to be at peak performance? Let’s go back to our roots. Our forefathers survived without McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and frozen pizza. Give your body what it wants: whole, natural foods, and you’ll be on your way to improved health.