What Makes it Whole?
If you're just learning about the whole foods lifestyle, it might seem a bit confusing. Like many people, you've likely had healthy foods in the past that you're no longer able to eat. The first thing you should know is that you are not alone. Many people have been in your shoes. It's downright hard to start this journey and then realize that you must adjust to a completely new way of eating. And it can be even harder when you've been thinking that you were making healthy choices for yourself and your family all this time only to realize now that you weren't.
For example, you can go into almost any grocery store and find vegan frozen meals. Sure, these meals look healthy from the surface. Often they promote vegetables and have all the right 'healthy words' on the box. What's even more confusing is that these foods can also be found in your local health food store, the one place where you would expect to find truly healthy products.
If you are starting on your whole food journey, you don't need all that frustration. Instead, you just need to follow a few simple guidelines to determine if something is whole or not. Once you have these rules memorized you will easily be able to go through your grocery store and pick the foods that are truly healthy for your body.
The first rule is to always buy organic. This is a bit more expensive and is usually one of the hardest things for new whole food eaters to wrap their minds around. The reason is because we're always taught that fruits and vegetables are good for us; it wasn't until the last few decades when people started making a fuss about eating organic. But in truth, whatever cost you spend on eating organic will be well worth it in the long run. When you aren't eating organic you're often exposing yourself to a variety of chemicals that are used to 'beef up' and preserve those fruits and vegetables. Add that to the fact that you have no way of knowing exactly what's been done with the food that you are choosing, so eating organic becomes a whole lot more important.
Buy Grass Fed Meat
If you're a meat eater, you want to be sure that you are choosing grass fed meat. Like with organic foods, when you're eating grass fed meat you're eating animals that must be treated a certain way. From humane treatment to the way they're fed, grass fed animals tends to have a better life and their meat is better for you. Additionally, it's important to remember that we are technically eating whatever our meat has eaten; so if these animals aren't being fed properly you;ll be impacted by that.
Eat Foods in Their Natural State
The third rule is to look for foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. While this doesn't mean that you must forage through the woods, it does mean that you should be reading labels whenever possible and looking for foods from online sources like Primal Kitchen and Thrive, or foods approved by the Whole30 program. Remember, even if you aren't following a Whole30 program, Whole30 followers have strict rules about what they can and cannot eat. If you ever have any questions on your whole food path, it is better to err on the side of caution.
Even though this journey may seem a bit confusing now, with a little time it'll all start to become second nature. Yes, in the beginning you may feel like you're spending a lot of time looking for recipes and finding supplies in the grocery store, but over time you'll have a 'go to' list of things that'll be easy for you to use.