These are 10 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a ‘Whole Foodie’
whole foodie = one who subscribes to food in its whole form
1. Low-Fat Does Not = Healthy
Low-fat usually means high carb, a lot of nasty chemicals in your food and a host of side effects. Did you know if you’re on a low-fat diet, you are more susceptible to depression? 20-30% of our daily intake should come from fat. WE NEED FAT! We actually depend on good fats to thrive and give our brains proper function, as well as nutrient absorption and a healthy mental state. Did you know saturated fats like grass-fed butter, grass-fed animal fats and coconut oil (which is chemically more saturated than butter btw) actually decrease your risk for heart disease, not increase it? Essential fatty acids are…essential. If I can stress 1 thing I have learned in regards to health and overall well-being, get off your low-fat diet and stop thinking it is a healthy way to eat. It’s simply not. End of story. (And I hope this doesn’t negate #10, I don’t think my diet is perfect by any means, but low-fat diets can be detrimental to health, no way of getting around that). Don’t go off and eat a tub of butter now, but don’t think butter is evil either, grass-fed butter that is. 😉
2. Ditch Boxed, Processed, Packaged, and Frozen Pseudo Food
You won’t miss it. Why? ‘Cause when your body and tastebuds get used to real, whole food, you won’t ever be able to look at that kind of ‘food’ the same again. It doesn’t mean you will never, ever consume fast food or eat food from a box again, but because you’ve changed, it just won’t satisfy like you once thought it did. Mind you there are some decent, organic brands out there that package their food in a box, and unless you are planning on becoming a heavy homesteader and given our current culture, you will probably still eat food that comes out of a box from time to time, just know what brands to look for. Mainstream, conventional non-organic, GMO brands are not it. Look for organic labels that are not owned by huge non-organic corporations.
Image Source: Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper
Who Owns What?
Image Source: Cornucopia Institute
Image Source: Mother Jones
3. Everything You Think is Hard to Make from Scratch…Isn’t
No, for real. I used to be so intimidated by roasting a whole chicken. It is so easy it’s stupid. Same with homemade snacks, bone broth, almond milk, yogurt, kombucha, fermenting foods, etc. It is all waay easier than you would ever expect. And the time factor doesn’t become as much of a factor, but more of a habit once you get these things down and are able to crank ’em out like a pro. Don’t fear cooking or trying things from scratch. Tell yourself you can do it, find out how to do it, then do it! Maybe you won’t make every. single. thing. from scratch, but find a out what you do love to make and take those things on, and as you do they won’t seem time consuming in the least.
Tips to help you get started –> Organic on a Budget + Homemade Recipes
4. Saturated Fats Won’t Give You Heart Disease
That’s right. Do your research if you don’t believe me. Studies are coming out one after the other about just how flawed the ‘Lipid Hypothesis’ (saturated fats = heart disease theory) is. I have talked with many Cardiologist friends and they, too, tell me that research is conflicting and not in line with saturated fats being the real culprit. But, you know what is? Inflammation. Look at heart disease cases and you consistently find inflammation. Inflammation is caused by many things, one being the overconsumption of refined carbohydrates (sugar, processed foods, processed wheat, etc.). Carb/sugar overload taxes the body and causes inflammation all over, including our arterial walls. This then causes the cholesterol that would normally be swept away in a non-inflammed artery, stick and accumulate in the inflamed area of the artery.
Low-fat diets contribute to this because it often means high-carb. We have replaced good, necessary, slippery fats with fake fats and stale, refined, sugary chemicals that our body processes as an overabundance of carbs. This is not good, you guys. And, the fats that have replaced good, saturated fats like butter, animal fats and coconut oil in our modern food system are things like vegetable oils, corn, canola, soybean, margarine and hydrogenated fats. These contain a high ratio of Omega-6 that are disproportionate to Omega-3’s and are a direct cause of inflammation in our bodies and arteries.
Most people are consuming far too many omega-6 fats compared to omega-3 fats. The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is 1:1, but the typical Western diet is between 1:20 and 1:50.
The typical Westerner is consuming far too many polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) altogether, which is a problem in and of itself. -Dr. Mercola
Saturated fats can actually lower LDL, are needed for brain activity, immunity, strong liver, strong bones and did you know your heart solely burns saturated fat? Yeah. Wild. If you think I’m crazy or full of it, do your research, dig into it and find out for yourself what is and isn’t accurate on this subject. This ex-low-fat dieter’s mind was blown when I learned this and had it backed in school. How ’bout yours?
5. Organic is Waay Better than Non-Organic, But It Isn’t the End All, Be All
You can’t make a label your god. Especially when that label comes from the USDA. Don’t get me wrong. Organic is an incredible way to greatly reduce pesticide exposure and avoid GMOs, receive more nutrients in your food and have a lesser impact on the environment. I buy organic. I have a story about that. But, you know what I have found is even better? Homegrown produce using non-GMO seed AND becoming friends with a local farmer or two or three and having a face-to-face relationship with that person or family and knowing exactly where the food comes from, how it is produced and knowing at the end of the day your dollars support their family and you benefit by getting a heck of a deal in quality. Seriously, act now. Go find a local farmer and shake his or her hand. Become friends and create a mutual exchange. There is NOTHING like it. And, you who have gardens know there is nothing like going out into your backyard and picking spray-free produce, bringing it in and using it as part of your meal and…you did it for, essentially, free. Nothing compares to either of these two privileges, not even a USDA-certified organic label. How can it?
6. If You’re Going to Eat Grains, Soaked is the Way to Go
I confess: I haven’t taken this on at all times, but I have learned tons about it at school + reading fellow bloggers posts and soaking and/or sprouting your grains is an easy way to improve digestion and nutrient intake of the grains you consume. A lot of folks can’t do grains at all or think soaking and sprouting is still not the way to go, but I believe if you are going to consume grains, soak ’em and sprout ’em.
Whole grains have phytic acid in their outer bran layer. Soaking breaks this down and allows better absorption of nutrients like calcium, B Vits, iron, zinc, etc. Too much phytic acid can lead to bone loss and loss of minerals in the body. Soaking and sprouting also improves the digestibility of the grain and breaks down the gluten content if you are choosing a glutenous grain like wheat, barley, rye or spelt. -Freshly Grown
7. Communal Bulk Buying Saves You Money and Creates Community
This is going to be short and sweet. The more people you get in on bulk items, the more everyone saves! Whether you find a few friends who want to go in on a grass-fed, whole cow, you all buy organic nuts in bulk online together (bc organic nuts are expensive!), you join a food co-op or a farmer membership like a poultry club, or you find a local buying club to join, it is a win-win and a sure way to save tons of money when eating whole, organic foods and it creates great friendships.
For you local readers: PDX Food Buying Club List
8. Fermented Foods Are Awesome
80-85% of our immunity lies in our gut. I repeat: 80-85% OF OUR IMMUNITY LIES IN OUR GUT! Crazy to think actually and mind boggling also to think how so many docs discount the role nutrition and food play out on health. It is a direct correlation. The food you eat is a DIRECT correlation to your health. What if I told you that the majority of food allergies and health issues stem from a poor gut? Okay not rocket science. But, if I said poor gut flora, would you be like, “Flora what?” Or would you know exactly what I am talking about? Think probiotics and prebiotics, only think of them in massive amounts and how massive amounts have been lost due to poor diet, processed foods, stress, the environment, antibiotic use, etc. We need bacteria in our gut – the good kind. If we don’t have the good kind of bacteria in our gut, we are in huge amounts of trouble. Traditional foods have been lost in our modern society and out with it went nourishing bone broths, fermented and cultured foods and homemade yogurts (dairy and dairy-free). All of these contain live cultures/bacteria needed for gut flora vitality.
I suspect that the benefits of fermented food aren’t stemming from some magical property inherent to fermented food, but rather the simple fact that introducing beneficial bacteria into our bodies restores the balance of intestinal flora that used to be standard in people who ate traditional, whole foods Primal diets and exposed themselves to bacteria on a regular basis. Fermented foods merely address a severe deficit in the modern gut; they don’t introduce anything new to human physiology. – Mark’s Daily Apple
Fermented foods are awesome for your health. Try ’em!
9. Counting Calories is For the Birds
Doing a 3-day intake of fats, carbs and protein to gather loose information about your diet, sure. Counting calories every day to achieve some weight loss goal…for the birds. A calorie isn’t just a calorie and counting them doesn’t tell us what our individual bodies do with them once they’re consumed. How can a 100-calorie GMO snack packed full of chemicals and who knows what be counted the same as 100 calories of fruits and veggies in terms of weight loss and gain? Calories in, calories out is quite a simplistic model of health; it is incredibly reductionistic. Counting calories does not take into account the fact that muscle mass burns more calories, it can be highly inaccurate, it also can become orthorexic and obsessive in nature, and you move from listening to your body and your body’s cues to going off arbitrary numbers that don’t really mean anything at the end of the day. Most importantly, it just isn’t holistic and doesn’t take into account the quality of food we eat. The kind of food we eat greatly impacts weight loss and/or gain.
At my book signing I introduced a new product “Raw Revolution Food Bars.” These bars are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 oil. The nutrient value is amazing. They are raw, which means they have not been cooked or processed. They are a bar that I will endorse because it ties into my philosophy. Anyway, I had these bars at the book signing and this couple came to the table and picked up a bar. The women looked at the label and said, “Oh, these have 200 calories, too much for me,” and then put the bar back onto the table. I asked her, “200 calories??? But the bar is loaded with nutrients and the calories don’t matter. The enzymes of the body will break down the nutrients to be delivered into the bloodstream. The sugars in the bar are low glycemic, which will not turn on the insulin system. These bars are a fantastic snack.”The lady replied, “No, I am only allowed to eat 1200 calories a day to lose weight and this bar will put me over my target range.”
I asked her, “So, it doesn’t matter to you about feeding the body with dense nutrients, you are only concerned with calories.” “Yes, said the lady.” I then asked her, “Can you show me a calorie?” She said she had no idea what a calorie was. All she knew is that she was told that she had to only take in 1200 calories to lose weight. I asked again, “So what about ingesting nutrients?” She replied, “It has nothing to with it.” “So you could eat anything you want as long as you only take in 1200 calories,” I said to her. “Yes! I can eat donuts, potato chips, pizza as long as I don’t exceed the 1200 calorie mark.” “ARE YOU KIDDING ME??” I said. Eventually, I was able to explain to her how the calorie method doesn’t work. Needless to say she ended up buying my book. – Daryl Conant, diet Earth
Health and weight loss/gain is about eating nutrients, not eating calories. The quality of food matters (big surprise!), not just the quantity.
10. There is Not 1 Perfect Way to Eat
Vegan, Paleo, Vegetarian, Weston Pricer, Gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, corn-free, grain-free, egg-free, no label, Standard American Diet (SAD), Jenny Craig. Listen. We all subscribe to certain ways of eating, whether we know it or not. We eat meat or we don’t, we eat veggies or we don’t. I’m here to tell you there just isn’t 1 perfect way to eat. Aside from eating perpetual crap that everyone knows isn’t food, (yet the industry keeps spending millions trying to convince us otherwise), I’d say find what works for you and stick to it and don’t make it something to beat people over the head with on how right you are about it. We all have different nutritional needs at different times in our lives, we have different body compositions, DNA, hormones, genetics, upbringing, ethnicity, cultural backgrounds and…food is never neutral; it has deep meaning for people from all walks of life. But, why does the Vegetarian or Vegan need to get bent out of shape because the half-Persian girl (that’s me) likes her meat when, perhaps, eating meat for her is deeply cultural. And does the Weston Pricer need to get all crazy because he believes Vegans will die do to nutrient deficiency? Orthorexia, or right eating, is becoming more and more common as we stake our ground in how we eat. I get it. I think fast food
sucks stinks, and I am appalled at what I see parents feeding their children when I’m out and about. Guilty as charged. Aside from the glaringly obvious (Twinkies, anyone?), maybe we can all relax a little and agree that we are inundated by way too much information and books and hype on what is and isn’t healthy. We have become so out of touch with our bodies that we do not know if we’re eating kale because we actually like it or because it’s the new superfood fad. If we re-engage with our bodies we realize our food needs change at different stages of our lives and it’s okay to adjust accordingly. I have met many a Vegan who has needed the extra protein and iron and B Vits during childbearing years, so she eats a little meat. Should she be stoned? Or the meat eater who needs a break from digesting meat because his or her body is taxed for whatever reason. Getting in touch with and listening to our bodies is crucial to health. I hope we can at least agree on that. And maybe we can even agree that all food coming from untreated ground in its natural state is good. Where we go from there is a vast array of divergence. And as we diverge, must we think our way of eating is the #1 perfect way? And if we think it is, must we think of others as ‘less than’ who don’t necessarily agree? Food for thought.
These are some things I’ve learned along the way. What have you learned on your whole foods/unprocessed journey?
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Book read: Have Your Cake and Lose Weight, Too!
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