**This post is part of the “A Word About Wholefoods Series”. Click here to see the first post and links to other posts in the series.
What is a Wholefoods Lifestyle Anyway?
I have heard it said in relation to this way of life, that if your grandmother wouldn’t have eaten it, neither should you!
Basically, the idea is to strip back our currently chemically-laden foods to as natural a way of eating as possible.
Now, part of the reason it is so hard to define is that wholefoods will end up looking different for different people. So please do not feel that you have to dramatically change your diet overnight. I tried that, and it completely flopped! Introduce new things step-by-step, see what works for you (because it won’t all!), what fits in your budget, lifestyle, family, dietary requirements, etc.
For us, we are on a very tight budget at the moment, so we cannot really afford to buy organic fruit and vegetables. We try to stick to the “Clean Fifteen” and “Dirty Dozen” rules, but to be honest, right now we cannot even really afford that. And that’s fine. Allow yourself grace.
Mama Natural puts it well – live by the 80/20 rule. That’s what we do. 80% of the time, we stick quite strongly to a ‘natural’ diet and way of life, but 20% of the time, we allow ourselves some leeway (for our sanity more than anything else!). So it’s ok every now and then to buy an ice cream you know is not natural, or get some popcorn at the cinema!
So, now for my Top 5 Tips for switching to a wholefoods lifestyle:
1. Variety is Very Important
We try to include lots of different colours, textures, and new dishes into our meal plans every month. The reason for this is so that we can ensure that we are getting as many of the vitamins and minerals that our body needs as possible. So for example, if you ate only leafy green veg, your iron levels would be wonderful, but you’d be lacking other key nutrients from not eating orange veg!
2. Grains are Good!
Grains have got a really bad rep in recent times, with some diets saying you should cut them out completely. But grains are important for our energy and health. What I would suggest is switching to wholegrains, which we have now almost entirely done. It’s easier to digest, and tastier too! I’ve especially enjoyed using wholewheat flour in baking, as it is naturally sweeter, so a recipe already needs less sugar!
3. Shop Seasonally
This helps with the first tip. One of the things I put most energy into when switching our diet was researching what was in season when. I even now have a recipe folder that is ordered by season. And I am so so happy I did it. Because not only is it healthier, as it is more likely you are choosing fruit and veg that is not imported, or at least not modified to survive in the wrong season, but it is also significantly cheaper!
4. Full-Fats are Your Friends
Like grains, full-fats have had a very bad rep in recent times. I grew up in the ‘low-fat’ era, and since I disliked milk, I tended to automatically go for low-fat, as it tends to be more watery. But it turns out that dairy fats are ‘good fats’! This is one of the things I did the most research on, as it took me a while to be convinced, but we now eat entirely full-fat milk, butter, cheese, and yoghurt. Ironically, we have actually lost weight since doing this, partly because we end up having less because it is creamier and more filling! It is recommended that we give young children only full-fat milk because they need the nutrients in it, but why shouldn’t we as adults benefit from these nutrients, too?!
On the subject of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats, we have also narrowed our cooking/baking fats and oils down, too. We use full-fat butter, as I said above, but we also use olive oil and coconut oil. Now, coconut oil is one of my absolute favourite finds in this switch. It can be expensive, but we end up buying only a small jar every 3 months, because you only need a tiny bit compared to the amount of liquid oils/butter you would need! I use it not only as a cooking oil and substitute for butter in some baking, but I also use it in cleaning (it’s good for wood) and as a moisturizer (girls, you know how expensive that can be!). So it has actually ended up saving us money, as well as bettering our health!
5. AlwaysRead the Label
This last point was the first step I took in our switch. It is so important. I always thought I was a very healthy person, but when I started reading what was in the products I usually bought, I realized how much rubbish I was consuming. Our rules tend to be: 5 ingredients or less in an item, and nothing unpronounceable or unrecognizable where possible. So we switched to things like dried beans and pulses after realizing how much salt was in many canned ones.
Of course, the healthiest thing you can do is cook as much as possible from scratch, but I appreciate that this is not possible for everyone. When I was working full-time, studying part-time, and trying to make sure I actually saw my husband amidst all of that, I did still manage to cook a lot from scratch, so, with some good planning ahead and decent time management, it is not impossible! For us, the purchase of a slow cooker was particularly helpful, as it does a lot of the work for you!
So, I hope that this is helpful, and that you are able to take even just one step towards a wholefoods lifestyle, I promise you won’t regret it!
And if you have any questions you would like to ask me, feel free to comment below or send me a message on the Contact Me page.
Useful links/sources used for this post: