A Beginner's Guide To A Healthy Diet - Whole Food Diet

Pooja Kulkarni

Aug 01, 2022

It's a far cry since we have celebrated and survived the new year and its resolution. The ones who were still happy eating steamed vegetables and doing jumping jacks as mentioned on their resolution resume, please continue, and those whose list got misplaced or was thrown out, we share a lot in common. Let's accept the fact that we can't stick to a diet nor a resolution list, but the fat-o-phobia in your mind is still knocking and bringing to you the various ‘dreams of diseases’ instead of ‘dreams of desires’ that coerce you to search for a perfect diet on the internet. And to your disappointment, the labeled diets seem extremely precise about what you eat, when you eat and what not to eat. Also, you have an intimate relationship with your food that doesn't allow you to break up with them. Thus here we have chartered a remedy for this impasse situation. No, it doesn't involve military precision, nor does it make your awesome relationship with food go for a toss because it is the Wholesome food diet we will talk about.


Wholesome food isn't something novel !

A wholesome food diet is not some innovation in the revolutionary dieting sector; it is just old wine in a new bottle. Whole food has been here for ages because our ancestors managed and survived on this diet before inventing cooking and packaging.


The food is not uncooked, but sun cooked - it means the food is made from plants and animals and not actually in plants (factory). The concept of whole food was revived again because a pandemic of processed and refined food dominated the market. Amid health concerns and various perishable fancy diet trends obstructing internet traffic, a whole food diet is a midway approach to a sustainable diet plan. 


They are close to a natural, whole and intact form of food. To simplify it, let's take an example - a coconut is a whole food, but coconut oil is a processed version.

 

  • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, lean meat like chicken and fish, milk, legumes, nuts and seeds etc., come under the category of real food.

  • Dairy products like yogurt and cheese and oils such as coconut or sunflower are minimally processed food.

  • Packed but healthy foods such as rice, grains, nuts etc., are processed culinary ingredients.

  • Canned and frozen food with high amounts of sugar and salt, packed food loaded with preservatives to increase shelf life of food, or fast food for that matter are ultra processed food and so unwholesome-esque.


Wholesome Food vs Processed Food

As humans, It is impossible to eat wholesome food for a lifetime. Whatever food we eat is processed or nutritionally altered in some way.

Canned, packed, cooked, frozen, refined, what have you - are all processed food that is right now sitting on our kitchen and refrigerator shelf. 


Our instinct or impulse for processed or packaged food is noticeable due to its availability, affordability and convenience facilities. 

It's not wrong to have processed food until and unless it has retained maximum nutrients, a packed food with less sugar or salt or sodium content is good for you, but again it comprises its shelf life. So you have to choose wisely when you go shopping for nutrient-dense food. 

Just aim to binge on artisanal loaves of bread with fresh and wholesome ingredients over machine-made bread with loose ingredients and empty calories. Before going for a frozen pizza, consider its nutritional value and replace it with some healthy alternative.


These foods that taste better are often bitter for your overall health. High amounts of salt can cause high blood pressure, and excess sugar consumption can be responsible for your weight gain or type 2 diabetes. 


Potential health benefits of whole food diet

Whole foods have their nutrients, phytochemicals and fiber tightly packed, which are also essential for better health. 

So research provokes us to have whole food and less highly processed food that may cost you your health.


Here are the benefits of having a whole food diet:

1. Chronic disease management and prevention

Our body is made up of healthy cells, and to replenish them, they require healthy food; if you have unhealthy or processed food, it is likely that your cells may worsen and may lose their functioning pattern, which will impact your health. Plant-based foods and, to some extent, fresh meat and fish are known to retain the freshness and wholesomeness of nutrients. These foods, when consumed regularly, will keep certain diseases away and will also not allow the acceleration of pre-existing conditions. 

There is evidence that 70% of the deaths in the world are due to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. The topmost factor that causes these diseases is ultra-processed or highly processed food consumption. 


2. Food for your good mood

French fries and candies are some of the finest food in the world, which makes everything straight from your hunger pangs to your sour mood. Perhaps, you need a fresh perspective on food and mood updates. Foods laden with carbs and fewer nutrients are made palatable so that we can crave for it more and none other than our ‘dopamine darling' is responsible for cravings and addictions. 

To sum up, more or less- whole food diets are heavy on fruits, vegetables and unprocessed nutrients can lift our moods and protect us from depression, stress and other mental health diseases while too much-processed food can put our mental health at risk.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, the people who consumed whole foods and less western food had a 25-35% lower risk of depression than people who consumed fast food regularly. They also state that our digestive system's inner workings are responsible for digesting our food and guiding our emotions. 


3. Weight loss

A pivotal element to binge on a whole food diet is losing weight, but let us also see why and how it can help us lose weight. Ultra-processed food is coated with high sugar and salt to enhance its flavor. 

Therefore, increased consumption of ultra-processed foods has been associated with rising obesity prevalence. People who consume more calories when exposed to the ultra-processed diet than the unprocessed diet gain weight and lose weight, respectively. Limiting consumption of ultra-processed food is an effective strategy for obesity prevention and treatment.



Takeaway

A whole food diet will always outweigh your short-term dietary habits because it focuses on a diversity of foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, unrefined pulses, legumes, seeds) that brings in varied nutrients fortified with vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and fiber. The objective of  this diet is to be hassle-free, doesn't come with a set of rules, provide only nutritious food (conditions apply)*
and can serve as a guideline for those whose long term lifestyle choice includes nutritious food. 

If you have become obsessed with food choices in the past, reach out to our registered dietitian for support, who can help you safely adjust your diet.

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