By Chef Lauren Cox, Closer to Your Food

How are your New Year’s resolutions going? The New Year gives us a sense of rejuvenation and motivation to live a healthier lifestyle. As you evaluate the potential adjustments to live a healthier life, take a close look at your nutrition. Your diet should include foods that maximize nutrition so your body can run optimally, resulting in a healthier you. There have been many diets through the ages – from fasting to eating high-fat animal protein. To kick off the year, we are focusing on a lifestyle change that has many benefits and doesn’t require a drastic change to your current eating habits – simply eat whole foods!

So why should you eat a whole food diet? Eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies, clean meats and dairy, and unprocessed grains and sugars can bring you enormous benefit in the following areas:

  • Improved digestive health
  • Improved sleep
  • Decrease in stress
  • Clearer skin
  • Better vision
  • Less inflammation
  • Weight loss
  • More energy

 

 What is a whole food anyways?shutterstock_400257040

A whole food is a product that is in its simplest form, like it was just plucked from nature. Products that have been refined or manufactured are no longer “whole.” For example, an apple is a whole food. Applesauce made with apples, real cinnamon and honey is a whole food. Applesauce made with flavoring, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup is not a whole food.

When in doubt, read the ingredient list. If any of the items are processed, then it’s a “no go.”  Even organic packaged foods can have additives that are refined for preservation, so it is best to make meals from scratch to ensure you maximize nutrients.

Our bodies are seeking balance, and many of us have created internal acidic environments because our diets are too rich in processed foods. It doesn’t necessarily take a serious intervention to make improvements that will bring you a noticeable difference in your health, so we invite you to challenge yourself for 7 days to get a taste of the delicious rewards a whole food diet can bring.

Guidelines

To maximize the effect of the challenge, try to eat only these foods:

  • Whole fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains (whole wheat flour, etc.)
  • Whole food sugars (honey, stevia leaf, maple syrup, etc.)
  • Organic, pasture-raised meats
  • Wild-caught seafood
  • Organic, pasture-raised dairy
  • No packaged, pre-made snack
  • Whole drinks like tea, coffee, water, beer, wine only
  • Remember, seasonal and local food options are always best

 Good Tips

  • Stop eating out
    Seriously. You never know what hidden ingredients are in the dish you order. Planning meals and snacks ahead of time is the best way to go, but for when it cannot be avoided, order intelligently off of the menu. Salads are usually a safe bet, but be wary of refined toppings such as croutons and poor-quality cheese. Dressings are another refined culprit, so order your salad with balsamic vinegar or lemon on the side to dress it up. A simple dish such as a grilled steak with veggies is a good option, but watch out for sauces. When it comes to dessert, ask for a bowl of fresh fruit or berries, or a nice double espresso to sip on.
  • Plan ahead
    Without prepping meals and snacks, you are setting yourself up for failure. Try making a lemonadefew lunches and snacks that you can take with you on the go.
  • Hydrate
    Hungry? You’re probably thirsty. When that snack monster attacks, the majority of the time your body is actually asking for hydration. To avoid this, make sure you drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily. So if you weigh 160 pounds, then drink 80 ounces of water. Staying hydrated will keep you satiated and is necessary for your liver to eliminate toxins.
  • Clean out your kitchen
    Anything that might be tempting needs to go! Bring refined snacks like cookies and crackers to the office so they aren’t wasted. Anything un-opened can be donated. Stock up on good grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruits from the bulk section of your local natural grocer and store them in air-tight containers. Make sure your fridge and freezer go through the same cleansing process. If you only have whole foods in stock, it will be easy to grab a healthy snack or meal.
  • Take inventory
    Keep a journal during your whole food journey. Write down how you feel before you start. Focus on how you feel when you wake up, how you are sleeping, any aches/pains/injuries, your mental clarity, your weight and even your psyche. Taking before and after pictures and measurements can be really helpful as well, so you can see the noticeable results.
  • Get your Immunoglobulins (IgG) or delayed food allergy test done
    This is a simple blood test that will point out the foods that are causing a delayed reaction in your body. This can show up as bumps on your skin, an upset stomach, mental fogginess, etc. By cutting out the foods that cause reactions you will slowly lower the inflammatory response. Brace yourself, because more often than not, most people are allergic to eggs, cow’s milk, wheat, dairy, and yeast. Cutting these things from your diet may seem daunting, but you know you can do it and you will feel much better.

 

Ready to take the Challenge? Download the Meal Plan and Recipes!

 


lauren

Closer to Your Food is a wellness blog focused on eating and cooking for health and sustainability with recipes and lifestyle tips formulated around a plant-based diet and home-grown local foods. Chef Lauren Cox holds a B.A. from the le Cordon Bleu in Culinary Management with over 8 years of fine dining experience in private dining, catering and Michelan star restaurants.

 

 


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.