As a busy working mom, meal planning doesn’t seem to be working for me. Okay, that’s not completely true. Problem is I don’t like to spend hours in the kitchen, preparing meals ahead of time, when I could be spending quality time with my family. I want the best nutrition to feed my family, but getting through the maze of options and their complexity can sometimes be frustrating.
Today’s topic is real food or Whole Food. Food is such a big topic. It’s hard to talk about it in small digestible chunks. I’ll take a stab at it for you, then you can determine what may work for you. If you try anything I suggest, you can let me know how it goes.
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Whole Food is part of the movement to get people to eat clean. Eating clean is basically eliminating processed foods and things like hydrogenated oils (see Episode 12, Quick Tips To Clean Up Your Diet). Since that article, the FDA* recently ruled trans fats can no longer be used in foods. This will start in 2018.
What is Whole Food?
Whole Food is not synonymous with organic. Organic refers to how the food is produced via agricultural methods, without pesticides, hormones, or GMOs.
Whole Food is simply food in a form as close to nature as possible with minimal processing. Whole Food is also not synonymous with raw. Cooking is a process, but there are some foods whose nutrients are better absorbed after they have been cooked like carrots and asparagus. The beta-carotene in both vegetables is better absorbed after cooking slightly, just as lycopene is better absorbed from tomatoes if they are cooked. Beta-carotene and lycopene are antioxidants which your body uses to neutralize free radicals in your body. I talked about this in episode 32 .
Example of Whole Food meals:
- Steak on the grill or in the oven, plus steamed green beans
- Taking the same type of meat, ground, and made into meatloaf, plus the veggies in some cream for a casserole is still Whole Food (as long as you’re not adding other processed ingredients like Velveeta or Hamburger Helper).
Most commercially baked goods have too many artificial ingredients and chemicals in them to be considered a Whole Food.
What could you snack on instead?
- Hummus and veggies
- Homemade granola
- Whole grain breads, or dried fruit & nuts.
- Unsweetened pureed fruit
- Sugar-free nut butters i.e., peanut, almond or pumpkin seed; as a dip or on whole grain bread
- Jerky (dehydrated meat); there is good quality grass-fed jerky that tastes delicious out there.
Common whole grains include whole wheat, quinoa, oats, barley and brown or colored rice. Bread and pasta is more processed than brown rice or quinoa, so try to limit your bread intake to the whole grain variety.
Transitioning to Whole Food can be gradual and painless if you like to be in the kitchen. You just have to get creative, or check the internet for great recipe ideas. Here’s a wonderful site to salad recipes requiring no refrigeration (if you’re taking them for lunch somewhere): Nosh On It
In a nutshell, Whole Food is about eating your food as close to it’s natural form as possible, and should be within safe guidelines (especially when it comes to meat). Watch your labels for trans fats and other additives when purchasing whole grain foods that have been processed. Try having two servings of vegetables with your protein and keep the starchy foods to a minimum.
*source: FDA ruling on Trans Fats
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