REAL food is food that nourishes the producer, the consumer, the community and the earth. It will be whole, nutrient dense, naturally processed and free from artificial GUNK!
Wholefoods are defined as food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances. This can mean literally foods in their natural form such as a raw apple, raw carrot, raw spinach and kale etc. which are all great for the body! The next level up would be basic processing such as butchering meat, chopping, grating and fermenting raw fruits, veggies and dairy – again necessary and healthy. Then you might want to get creative and start making soups, stews, salads and snacks and if homemade these can still be considered whole and nutritious. The next level is food production by manufacturers, which can be small cottage businesses that subscribe to a natural approach to additives – which can be beneficial (always read the labels). Then of course you have big business food manufacturing – this is where you really need to know your food labels and be clear that just because they state ‘health claims’ or labeled ‘whole foods’ this may not be the whole story!
Nutrient density means the amount of nutrients per calorie and was developed by Dr Fuhrman. The Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) was developed to measure the quality of different foods in terms of micro nutrients such as vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals. He advocates eating a diet that contains mostly the highest scoring ANDI, but also adding lower scoring foods to add essential fats.
Despite all the advances in nutritional science there is still little known about the complexities of how all the different chemicals in food interact with each other and us! Having a diet that is nutrient dense also means choosing varied and colourful foods to increase your chances of capturing all the nutrients that you need. It is important to have the majority of your diet as plant based and have accompaniments of carbohydrates, meats and fish.
Buy the best you can afford
Most people are aware of the benefits of organic foods, however not everybody has access or can afford them. Check out the clean fifteen and the dirty dozen for interest! It describes how some vegetables are more or less likely to contain pesticide residue. Realistically, buying local and seasonal produce can be equally beneficial.
If you want to start going organic it might be best to start with animal produce, due to toxins in fat, antibiotics and hormones. At least try to go for outdoor reared and grass fed animal produce and dairy.
In a nutshell…
- Unlimited veggies, particularly leafy greens.
- Fresh fruit (all types) limit to 2-3 pieces/portions per day if you are watching your weight.
- Good quality protein – meat, fish, dairy and pulses (if tolerated).
- Fermented foods – veggies and live yogurt.
- Carbohydrates as a side – limit to 1/4 of your plate, these are starchy veg (potatoes etc.) and grains.
- Good fats – butter, coconut oil and cold pressed olive oil.
- Nuts and seeds – limit to 1/4 cup per day.
- Filtered water and herbal teas – 1.5L per day.
- 85% Dark Chocolate (limit to 30g per day).
Avoid to much C.R.A.P
This acronym stands for;
- Caffeine – limit to 2 cups per day.
- Refined sugar – go as low as you can go!
- Alcohol – 1-2 units a couple of times per week.
- Processed (highly) or manufactured foods – these are ready meals and should come with a health warning 🙂
Try to keep all these foods to a minimum to maintain optimum health. They raise cortisol levels and tax the liver!
Takeaway…choose a diet that is whole, fresh, simple, local and seasonal. Choose widely, incorporating a variety of colours and types of foods. Buy the best you can afford and cut down on the C.R.A.P.