Five Ways to Add More Whole Foods to Your Diet
Incorporating more whole foods is a great place to start if you’re looking to improve your diet and make healthier choices. How to eat whole food plant based is not hard to do or difficult to incorporate into your life. Whole foods have been minimally processed and are free from additives or artificial ingredients. They include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, lean protein sources, and healthy fats. To keep it simple, whole foods are typically grown not produced in factories.
The benefit list of eating more whole food is long. Whole, real food is packed with nutrients that boost your health, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Eating more whole foods can also help you regulate your weight, as they tend to be more filling than processed foods. And choosing whole foods over processed options can help reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins. This is how many of our ancestors ate. Often eating what was harvested from the land.
So how can you add more whole foods to your diet? Here are five ideas to get you started:
Incorporate More Fruits and Vegetables
When you think of whole food, your first thought is probably fresh produce. You’re not wrong. Fresh fruits and vegetables offer the best sources of whole food from which you can pick. So fill up your plate with vegetables and fruit at every meal. If you’re unaccustomed to eating a lot of produce, start by adding an extra serving or two each day. You can also try substituting a side of veggies for a less healthy option, like fries or chips. Over time, you’ll likely find that you enjoy eating more fruits and vegetables and that they become a regular part of your diet.
Choose Whole Grain Options
Opt for whole-grain varieties over refined grains. Whole grains still contain all of the grain’s essential parts, including the germ, endosperm, and bran. This means they’re richer in nutrients and fiber than refined grains. You can find whole-grain versions of many common foods, such as bread, pasta, cereal, and crackers. When shopping for packaged goods, check the ingredient list to ensure the first ingredient listed is a whole grain. Paying close attention to the ingredient list of the products you buy will be a common thread of what I teach. You have to know what it is that you are putting into your body. More on that at a later time.
Add Beans and Legumes to Your Diet
Beans and legumes are another great source of whole foods. They’re packed with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Legumes and beans are low in calories and fat but high in filling power. Beans and legumes can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. You can add beans and legumes to any of your meals. You can also use them as a replacement for meat in meals, or simply snack on them plain. (Try baking chickpeas or garbanzo beans with spices in the oven – better than popped corn!) Also consider adding black beans to your salads.
Make Protein-Rich Choices
When choosing protein, choose lean sources that are rich in nutrients. Good options include skinless chicken and turkey, fish, tofu, and legumes. These foods are high in protein and low in unhealthy saturated fat. Add any of them into your diet by combining them with main dishes or eating them as part of a healthy snack. Also try swapping out the “cheaper” cuts of meat for grass-fed versions. You’ll find that grass-fed animals were fed and handled quite differently than what I call the “corporate” versions of meat. Remember, what the animal ate affects both the animal and the what you are ultimately buying/eating.
Incorporate Healthy Fats into Your Diet
A nutritious diet includes a variety of high-quality fats. Healthy fat plays a role in many body processes—healthy fat in nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil. However, when incorporating healthy fats into your diet, be sure to do so in moderation as they are high in calories. A small guideline is to avoid consuming more than 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) of healthy fats per day. While we are talking about oils, I’d like you to throw away any canola oil or vegetable oil you may have in your cabinet. Right. Now. Do not use either of these oils. Two far better options are avocado oil or cold-pressed unrefined coconut oil. I buy my coconut oil from Costco. If you have a membership, it looks like this. Note: You can purchase one container at Costco. Avocado oil like this one by Chosen Foods.
Eating more whole foods is a great way to improve your diet and overall health. By incorporating more fruits and vegetables, choosing whole-grain options, adding beans and legumes, making protein-rich choices, and including healthy fats into your diet, you can quickly increase your intake of whole foods. Doing so will provide your body with numerous health benefits and help you reach your fitness goals.