What Exactly Are Whole Foods?

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We honestly get this question all the time. I think we forget, having been immersed in this Integrative Nutrition community for so long, that it’s not always clear what constitutes a ‘whole food’ out there in the real world.

So many packages say so many things. So many dietary theories preach so many rules.

Fruit is a necessary part of a healthy diet. The sugar in fruit makes you fat. Gluten is the devil. Gluten is not a big deal if you’re not intolerant. You have to eat meat to be healthy. Do not, under any circumstances, eat meat. You should take Probiotics and supplements. Supplements are bullshit and possibly even dangerous in large quantities.

We know, it can be really confusing.

But what we truly believe around here, after years of studying nutrition, self-experimenting and reading hundreds of books on the subject, is that it basically comes down to this; eating real, whole foods is your safest bet for being healthy regardless of what other rules you follow.

But what exactly are ‘whole foods’?

Whole foods, as defined by my quick Google search, are:

Food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances.

That’s a pretty decent definition.

Ours though, is this:

Food that doesn’t come in a package or if it does, has only one or two ingredients.

Apples, for instance, are a whole food. Chicken as well. Kale, spinach, steak, cheese, almonds, and apricots are all whole foods. Applesauce can be a whole food, if you look at the package and the only ingredient is ‘apples’.

Potato chips are not, though. If you look at the package, you’ll probably see three or four ingredients.

Larabars are not either. If you look at the package, you’ll probably see four or five ingredients (even though they’re a much healthier alternative to other processed foods.)

Ground beef is a whole food. If you look at the package, it should only have one ingredient. Frozen turkey burgers are not. Because if you look at the package, there are probably a whole bunch of ingredients, many of which you can’t pronounce.

Does that make sense?

So if you’re trying to eat “whole foods” – which we believe you should, if your goal is to feel good, be healthy or lose weight – then ask yourself what’s in the food. Check the package label to see how many ingredients it has. Or better yet, only buy foods that don’t have a package or a label to begin with.

Those are whole foods; food that doesn’t come in a package, or if it does, only has one or two ingredients.

Just wanted to clear that up.

And if you’re interested in a whole foods plan to get you feeling real good, check out The Simple Cleanse. It’s awesome. And it’s free.


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