Are you feeling confused about what to eat? Paleo? Vegan? Ketogenic? What about just eating real whole foods! When setting up a whole foods pantry there are seven criteria to keep in mind when choosing your food. They are whole foods, fresh foods, real food, organic & free of GMO, local & seasonal, in harmony with traditions, and delicious & balanced.
A whole food is a food that comes the way mother nature intended it to be. All the parts are intact and nothing has been removed. When you eat whole food, you provide your body with essential minerals, vitamins, oils, enzymes, phytochemicals, and glyconutrients. Fruit, vegetables, and whole grains are some examples of a whole food. Whole grains contain the entire kernel of the grain including the germ, bran, and endosperm. Some examples of whole grains are: oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, and barley. Refined grain products only include the endosperm and the bran and germ have been discarded during refining making them less healthy.
It’s important to eat food that is fresh to gain the most nutrients from your foods as well as foods full of energy. This means it’s best to eat your produce fresh opposed to frozen or canned fruits & vegetables. If possible grow your own food, if not shop at farmer’s markets. Food at the market has been picked the day of or the day before making it fresher than what’s sold in a grocery store. Another option is to receive a weekly CSA box from your local farm. When eating out look for restaurants that pride themselves at serving fresh produces, look for a label that says farm to table. Eating fresh food improves the smell and taste of your food.
When shopping chooses, real food opposed to fake or processed food. Again, look for foods that are whole, or resemble how they were grown. Avoid buying foods that have be manufactured and are full of extra additives and preservatives. There has been a lot of confusing information about sweeteners. Some people believe the artificial sweeteners can harm your health and may lead to cancer, it’s best to stick with natural sweeteners such as honey, brown rice syrup or maple syrup.
It best to buy produces that are organic so that your family is not consuming harmful chemicals. However, if this isn’t affordable to you then you can buy only organic produces listed on the dirty dozen. Dirty dozen is a list of the top produce that are the most harmful foods to eat due to the chemicals on them. They are strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. When buying animal, products make sure to buy products that say: grass feed, vegetarian fed, wild caught, antibiotic free, free of growth hormones, and free range. When buying eggs, many people look for the label cage free however what you need to look for is pasture-raised. Pasture-raised means the chickens are given at least 108 feet to roam free and consume what they find in the dirt as well as feed. It’s also important to shop for foods that say non-GMO and when buying canned goods look for a BPA free lining label.
It is important to buy your food local and in season. Foods that are in season are more nutrient dense. Buy foods that are in season on the other side of the world means these foods have traveled far to get to you, which means they are not fresh. When you are the grocery store make sure not only to choose foods that are in season but local to you. For example, make sure to buy the Texas grapefruits that are in season right now. Also, when you buy local you are supporting your local farmers and helping to reduce the carbon footprint. If you’re shopping at your local farmer’s market, or receiving a CSA box then all your food will be in season, local, and fresh!
Food is meant to be shared and eaten with others. Honor your family traditions and cook foods that you grew up with. Eating seasonal food is a way to honor and celebrate each season. Taste is really what food is about so aim to make delicious food. Use your fresh herbs and spices and high quality salt to add flavor to your food. Cooking is a way to tap into your creative side. Have fun, and experiment! You might be interested in watching Annemarie Colbin’s, who is a leader in the field of natural health, video about how to choose food.