What Is Whole Food Eating?

whole foods

What is this whole food eating thing all about anyway?

What is the difference between clean eating and whole food eating? Sounds the same to me. So I did some research.

Did you know that:

Eating well can add a DECADE to your life?

Healthier diets could save the United States $87 billion per year?

But forget about the economic impact on the country. It is all about you and your health.

Simple. Eat whole foods.

By eating at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits a day, you can reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease by 30%, lose weight, and enhance your immune system so you don’t get sick as often?

whole food basket

In fact, a diet based on a high fruit and vegetable intake, regular physical activity, and low to moderate alcohol intake, are associated with reductions in the incidence of certain chronic diseases, according to a study published in the journal PLoS Medicine from the Public Library of Science. (source)

According to the Center for Disease Control and studies done by various health organizations, a whole foods diet can be one of the healthiest ways to eat. A whole foods diet doesn’t mean eating foods only from Whole Foods market, though.

It means choosing good fats, foods that are as close to their original form as possible and staying away from processed foods.

A whole foods way of eating isn’t a diet fad. It’s more of a way of eating or a lifestyle. Healthy whole foods eating means eating fresh fruits and vegetables every day, eating fish and grass- fed meats as well as fiber rich whole grains.

Research shows that omega-3 fats found in fish like salmon is a big health booster, fighting heart disease, stroke, hypertension, depression, and even Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis, says Diane McKay, PhD, a researcher with the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.

Choosing a whole foods-rich diet is a good way to make certain that what you eat is rich in micronutrients and free of unnecessary additives. With the wide variety of whole foods available, they are by far the best ingredients for creating tasty and healthy meals. And diets loaded with whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods might help keep you healthy.

So what are foods and micronutrients? How do you serve them? Hang on, because throughout this guide we’re going to give you the facts on what whole foods are and the best way to serve them. We’ll give you some tips for your whole foods shopping trips and even tell you how you can avoid going to the extreme of a whole foods diet.

Let’s get started.

What are whole foods?

You’ve probably been exposed to a whole foods diet in some way. It might be you have an aunt who is eating a low carb/high fat diet or a friend who is on the raw foods diet. These are forms of a whole foods diet, although they are extreme. We’ll discuss taking the diet to the extreme in a bit. First I want to tell you about what a whole foods eating style is.

apples and bananas are whole foods

Is it a diet or a lifestyle? Eating whole foods is a way of eating. It’s not a diet. Actually a whole foods diet is a healthy way to diet, if you want to lose weight. But it’s a diet that can be eaten the rest of your life.

Are the foods raw, cooked or processed? A whole foods diet means eating food that is closest to its most natural state. Does this mean you have to eat everything raw? No. It simply means that foods should be unprocessed.

Whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes will retain their fiber and other beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients. These micronutrients are often removed in processed foods.

A whole foods way of eating could mean eating:

  • Whole grains instead of refined grains such as white flour whenever possible.
  • Fruits, vegetables, and beans to provide the fiber and vitamins they contain.
  • Meat is on the whole foods healthy list. A skinless chicken breast cooked with healthy vegetables and nuts instead of chicken nuggets processed with added fats, flavorings, and preservatives.
  • You can have a baked potato with chopped green onions and light sour cream in place of a bag of sour cream and onion flavored potato chips.
  • Top your whole grain oatmeal with fresh berries for breakfast instead of having a toaster pastry or processed breakfast bar.

Favoring a whole foods diet means choosing foods that are natural and can be prepared at home with real cooking. It’s food that can be grown in your garden, purchased at a local farmer’s market or in the outer aisles of your super market.

What is the difference between eating whole foods and clean eating?

Now that you know what whole foods is and, hopefully, you read my post on clean eating, here is the difference.

Clean eating and whole food eating have different focuses.

Clean eating is about weight loss by reducing fat consumption and increasing muscle development. Fat reduction is encouraged by drinking or eating low-fat dairy products for example. On the other hand, whole food eating is more about eating natural unprocessed foods such as whole milk and cheese for the good, healthy fats.

Clean eating also avoids drinking calories. So sweetened beverages such as beer, wine, specialty coffees, sodas, etc are avoided. Whole food allows drinks naturally sweetened beverages in moderation. You can drink water, milk, all natural juices, wine, beer, coffee and tea. And even use natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.

Benefits of eating whole foods                                   


healthy whole foodsNow that you know what a whole food eating style is, you might be wondering why you’d benefit from eating this way. After all, it’s faster, easier and maybe cheaper just to grab the prepackaged, pre-cooked processed stuff, right? The whole foods way of eating has many benefits.

  • Eating Healthy Makes You Feel Better About Yourself
  • Processed foods and fast food or convenience store foods are limited in variety and have a huge laundry list of ingredients that you might not even be able to pronounce. They might taste good, but they won’t keep you satisfied. Whole foods, on the other hand, will fill you up and keep you satisfied longer.
  • Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrition, vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are low in calories so you can maintain a healthy weight without having to worry about counting calories. Whole grains paired with fresh fruits and vegetables are a delicious meal or dessert.
  • Eating whole foods provides a decrease in heart disease. Consuming a high fiber, whole foods diet protects your heart from cardiovascular disease. While whole grains are rich in fiber, raw fruits and vegetables such as carrots or greens are a good source of fiber as well.
  • Moving to a diet high in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains might lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and the problems associated with the disease. A high raw vegan diet can help you manage your blood sugar. One way to do this is to have a big smoothie made from fibrous fruits and veggies every day.
  • The whole foods way of eating can help you reverse some types of diseases. Many people have had success reversing heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.

The whole foods healthy eating plan has many benefits. It provides you with the nutrients needed for a healthy body, helps you fight off diseases and maintain your weight.

What are micronutrients and why you need them?

Your body needs certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients to stay healthy and grow. What exactly are they and why do you need them?

According to the CDC, “Micronutrients are dietary components, often referred to as vitamins and minerals, which although only required by the body in small amounts, are vital to development, disease prevention, and well-being. Micronutrients are not produced in the body and must be derived from the diet. (source)

Micronutrients include such minerals as fluoride, selenium, sodium, iodine, copper and zinc, as well as vitamins such as vitamin C, A, D, E and K, and also the B-complex vitamins.

When there are deficiencies in micronutrients such as iron, iodine, vitamin A, folate and zinc, it can have devastating consequences on a person’s health.

For example, iron is an essential mineral. It is critical for motor and cognitive development. Children and pregnant women are very vulnerable to the consequences of iron deficiency.

Another example is Zinc. This mineral promotes healthy immunity, resistance to infection, and proper growth and development of the nervous system.

Micronutrients are needed in very tiny amounts. These substances have been called magic wands because they help the body to produce the enzymes, hormones and other substance needed for proper growth and development.

Problems with processed foods

If you’re like the majority of people, you’ve had some type of processed food at one time or another. Maybe it was a quick trip through the local fast food restaurant. Or maybe it was a prepackaged dinner when you were in a hurry or just too tired to cook.

processed foods on a shelf

Processed foods were once thought to be a healthy alternative. The manufacturers still claim they are healthy, siting claims like low fat, low carb, vitamin fortified, no trans-fat, contains omega-3s. I am convinced these foods are actually what are making a lot of people fat, sick and unhealthy instead.

Coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer – four of the top ten chronic diseases that kill most of us have all been linked to processed food consumption.

According to the Nurses’ Health Study, Nurses’ Health Study II, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the largest, most extensive studies ever conducted on health and nutrition, the foods that contributed the most to weight gain are French fries, potato chips, sugar-sweetened drinks, red meats and processed meats, sweets and desserts, refined grains, fried foods, 100-percent fruit juice, and butter (these results were published in June 2011 in the New England Journal of Medicine).

Some of the problems with processed food include:

  • Processed food-like substances are designed to never rot, expire or go bad. Do you really want that in your body? Have you ever found a fast food french fry under your car seat? It was not rotten was it?
  • The processed food industry over-seasons its food with way too much salt, sugar, and oil.
  • White bread or white pasta is made with white flour, a highly processed version of wheat. This means you are eating empty calories that have far less nutrition than the whole-wheat or whole grain alternatives.
  • An estimated 90% of processed foods in supermarkets are made with either a corn or soy ingredient in the form of an additive. These are all under a variety of different names.
  • They are loaded with ingredients that you can’t pronounce.

Eliminating processed foods helps you have more energy, lose weight and feel healthier. And by cutting out processed foods, you don’t have to count calories, watch fat grams or even eat a very low carb diet. You know what you’re eating when you eat a whole foods diet.

Doesn’t that make more sense?

As always, I love feedback. So leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of this post.

Return to the Diet Plans Page