Remember when we just ate food? Anything we put into our mouths was considered food a while back. Now it’s: super-foods, power-foods, wholefoods, junk foods, non-foods and on it goes. So why do ‘experts’ keep banging on about the importance of wholefoods, and does it really matter when a grocery bought ‘heat and serve’ meal is so much easier?
Wholefoods are foods that are eaten in their natural state with no, or very little processing or refining like vegetables and fruits. They are often grown rather than produced.
Wholefoods contain more nutrients and fewer calories than more processed foods. For busy, weary mamas and our growing cubs, wholefoods will offer vitamins, minerals, fibre, beneficial fats and the enzymes necessary for our healthy functioning.
Processed foods are usually foods that come in packets and have a list of ingredients that typically include unhealthy fats, sugar, fillers, additives, preservatives, colours and flavours. Often processed foods are high in calories but low in nutrition however they are arguably faster to prepare. Examples of processed foods are soft drinks, juice, cakes, biscuits, pastries, chips, pies, hot dogs, lollies, bread and many breakfast cereals.
In recent times organic and gluten free have become major dietary trends but if an organic or gluten free item is highly processed, it will still be low in nutrition and high in calories so don’t be fooled. These buzzwords and others like, natural, fat-free and cholesterol-free have misled consumers to disregard actual ingredients believing they are eating something healthy which is often not the case. Don’t be bamboozled by marketing terms. Read ingredient lists and avoid foods with ingredients you can’t identify.
Ingredients in processed foods are usually stripped of all nutritional qualities like vitamins and minerals, think white flour and sugar, and then packed full of toxic chemicals to add flavour like canola oil, MSG, colours, nitrates, sulphites, fillers and synthetic vitamins and minerals.
Food companies unfortunately do not have the health of you and your family as their top priority! While the ingredients they add to food may taste good (if your tastebuds are accustomed to processed food flavours) they are cheap for them to maximize profit and long lasting to ensure the longest shelf life possible.
So if you want to nourish your family with wholefoods and limit processed foods, where do you start?
- The number 1 best thing you can do for the health of your family is to cook and bake as much of your food as you can. Hands down, the BEST thing. With a bit of planning and preparation you’ll get in a groove with food preparation. It may go out the window every now and then during busy periods but stick with it. You should definitely have the odd night off too but once you make cooking at home a priority you will get in a groove and be a pro in no time!
- Shop at local farmers markets for fresh and local chemical free produce and stick to the outside aisles of your grocery store where you’ll find fresh and frozen produce, eggs, healthy snacks like nuts, meats, chilled items like yoghurt and some fresh, low processed ‘heat and serve’ items like soups with short ingredient lists of seasoned vegetables for nights you need a quick meal.
- Fill up on wholefoods first and feed your family wholefoods so that you limit the your capacity for processed food. The fibre content in wholefoods will help make you feel full. As you are giving your body the nutrition it needs, you’ll limit the possibility of food cravings too.
If the idea of feeling fabulous, looking great and avoiding chronic modern diseases appeals to you then you should opt for a diet of mostly wholefoods and limited or no processed foods.
It’ll change your life…….and make it longer too!