What are whole foods, anyway?

Whole foods come directly from nature, with little to no processing such as leafy greens, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Unrefined oils such as olive oil and coconut oil, minimally processed dairy, and occasional meat from healthy animals are whole, real foods too. Even dark chocolate and wine count!

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “about half of all American adults - 117 million people - have one or more preventable, chronic diseases, many of which are related to poor quality eating patterns and physical inactivity."

whole foods are the natural solution

Whole foods have been around for ages, yet we’re still learning about the benefits of eating real foods every day. Recent research shows that whole foods really can be the best preventative medicine. 

The best part about following a whole foods approach is that you never have to worry about keeping up with the latest trends and diet fads - just stick to eating whole, real food and you’re good to go.


Whole Foods Guidelines

  • Let the seasons guide your decisions. Not only does eating seasonally put you in better touch with the world, eating what’s naturally available to you comes with many health benefits. Summer fruits give us energy and antioxidants for hot summer days. Fall vegetables such as autumn's squash are loaded with beta-carotene, a nutrient that supports the immune system (during the time of year we likely need immune support the most). Similarly, fish, which are a widely available winter food source, are packed with vitamin D and omega 3s which have been linked to the prevention of seasonal affective disorder. 
  • Choose organic when possible to avoid modern chemicals that can be sprayed on foods (pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics).
  • Choose local when possible. Foods that are bought locally are likely to be fresh, thus providing more nutrients. Plus it feels great to support your community!

What are whole foods?

Moderation is key. 

Do you need to eat whole foods all day, every day to be considered healthy? No. Stopping at the drive-thru for fries, or having ice cream before bed isn’t going to reverse your healthy eating habits - as long as you remember that eating whole foods is a lifestyle change, not a temporary diet. You have to choose to eat real foods more times than you choose to splurge. Don’t feel guilty for occasionally eating something that is processed. Believe me, I get it. I’ve seen the bottom of an ice cream carton one too many times. Instead of feeling bad about your food choices, think about how the food makes you feel after eating it. Meals should make you feel great. If it makes you feel like you’re about to pop/explode/die (I know I’ve felt all of the above before), why keep eating it? The less you eat processed foods, the easier it will be to avoid them.

What questions do you still have about eating whole foods? Have a suggestion you want to share? Leave your questions or comments below!

michael pollan