You may not know it now, but one of the best decisions you could make for yourself is the commitment to “go whole.” In a short period of time you will realize the many benefits of eating whole foods. If you’ve been eating primarily processed foods over the years, you may have developed some unsettling and significant health problems.
First and foremost, you’ve probably noticed a gradual increase in your weight. Data shows that 60% to 66% of all the adults in the United States and United Kingdom are overweight or obese. This is a disturbing statistic.
Being overweight is directly related to a higher incidence rate of chronic diseases. These can include diabetes and heart disease, as well as the development of some cancers and neurological disorders.
Going whole will allow you to not only lose weight but to also regain your health in ways you never thought possible.
Choose a Whole Foods Eating Plan You Can Embrace
Before we talk about the health benefits of eating whole foods we should discuss which whole foods plan you want to adopt. You see many people don’t realize there are different ways of eating whole.
For some, eating whole means consuming a lot of grains; for others it means avoiding grains and consuming an abundance of meats instead. Let’s take a quick look at your options.
Plant-Based Whole Food Eating Plan
On a plant-based whole food plan you will follow a Forks Over Knives approach to eating. In other words you will rely heavily on grains and legumes and avoid meat altogether. You will also steer clear of oil, as well. Instead you will use methods such as the water sauté method in place of oil when preparing your meals.
Meat Based Whole Food Eating Plan
A meat based whole food plan means you typically will follow a routine very similar to the paleo diet. You will avoid grains, beans, and legumes and receive the majority of your protein through eating meats, preferably organic.
Typically with the meat based whole food plan you will use healthy oils such as coconut oil and avocado oil.
Whole30 Food Program
Many times the first thing that people think about when they think of whole foods is the popular Whole30 program. This is the program that has really brought the whole foods movement into the spotlight.
If you choose to follow this path then you will be eating extremely clean for 30 days. The program is designed to “reset” your body and reverse the effects of poor food choices over the years.
Although a bit stricter, the Whole30 follows many of the same guidelines as the paleo diet.
Health Benefits of Eating Whole Foods
Eating whole foods and avoiding highly processed foods is one way to reach and maintain your naturally healthy body weight. Beyond that, those who eat a whole foods diet can expect the following health benefits as well.
Many health problems begin in the gut; health conditions you would never link to gut disorders and digestive problems. But that is exactly where they begin. Sadly, many people don’t even consider the importance of the digestive system… the role it plays in your overall health.
When your digestive processes are working properly, you get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients out of the food you eat. This boosts your metabolism and keeps your immune system strong. And we know a strong immune system limits the chances of becoming sick or developing some type of disease.
If you have any particular health issue related to a poor digestive process, eating mostly plant-based whole foods can often fix that problem in short order. When you eat highly processed foods, you don’t get the dietary fiber you need to keep your digestion working well.
Whole foods, for the most part, naturally fight inflammation. Additionally, there are herbs and spices you could incorporate into your cooking that will help fight inflammation. As we’ve discovered over the years, inflammation is at the root of multiple health conditions. These include diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, arthritis, leaky gut syndrome, and others.
Studies show that many processed foods such as sugar and refined grains and cereals cause inflammation in the body. Fortunately, there are foods you can eat to limit instances of inflammation and pain.
More Natural All-Day Energy
Plant-based whole food eating means lots of nuts and seeds, legumes and beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These foods provide all the energy and nutrition the human body needs. Highly processed foods like refined sugar, white flour and most fast foods deliver toxins, preservatives, antibiotics, and steroids. You’ll be hard pressed to find any nutritional value when you consume these foods.
Processed food usually has higher calorie and carbohydrate counts per serving than whole food. This means you constantly feel rundown, tired and fatigued, and lacking energy. The nutrients and minerals your body needs to create an endless energy supply exist in the natural foods that are a part of the whole foods diet plan.
A Healthy Blood Sugar Level
The number one danger associated with high blood sugar levels is type 2 diabetes. This disease, among other things, damages the blood vessels in the retina that leads to blindness. Kidney damage and even kidney failure are also attributed to high blood sugar.
When you eat mostly plant-based foods, your body regulates your blood sugar levels. You won’t experience the “spike and crash” which results when you eat fast food and other highly processed foods.
Your Mood is Boosted
Eating natural foods regulates your hormones. When hormones are out of control, you suffer emotional highs and lows. You have periodic outbursts; you sometimes can’t understand why you lash out the way you do. This is the price you pay for eating sugar, processed food, and fast food.
Whole foods naturally keep your hormones regulated and normal so you enjoy more emotional control and less stress and anxiety.
How Eating Whole Foods Promotes Weight Loss
What other benefits of eating whole foods will you discover? Well, for one thing, you will most likely lose weight. Dumping the junk food alone will put you on the path to weight loss and better health.
It just takes a quick trip to a site like the Whole30 to see how people have claimed to lose weight effortlessly and find health that they never thought possible. But why does it work? Is it simply that you are eating clean?
Believe it or not there is actually more to this way of eating than most people realize. The answer could be as simple as the whole foods you are eating offer a multitude of things that your body desperately needs.
Let’s take a look at what eating more whole foods brings to the table (pun intended 🙂 ):
You will eat more fiber
One of the biggest things that eating whole foods will provide you is a healthy dose of fiber. Fiber is critical for cleansing the body. When you eat, your body takes what it needs and then tries to discard the rest. This means anything that your body doesn’t use will either exit the body or be stored as fat. Fiber helps to cleanse the body, making it a must have for fat loss.
A high fiber diet is responsible for improved heart health and healthy blood sugar levels; and provides other health benefits. The natural soluble and insoluble fiber delivered by many whole foods keeps you feeling full longer. This means you don’t overtax your digestive tract by overeating.
When you eat highly processed foods, you don’t get the dietary fiber you need to keep your digestion working well.
Eat the right kinds of protein
Protein is an integral component to any healthy eating plan. Whether or not you eat meat, you can still get sufficient amounts of protein. Your body needs protein to build bones and muscles. The fact is most people do eat enough protein, but are you getting your protein from the right sources?
Choose lean meat for healthier fat intake; choose eggs, salmon, or tuna for more omega-3s. While rich in fiber, beans, vegetables, and nuts are also protein-rich foods.
Protein has many great qualities, but the best is the ability to keep you feeling full. So it’s no surprise that many people are shocked at how little food they need to fill them up when they are eating whole.
Because a whole foods diet is so dependent on fruits and vegetables it provides healthy hydration. Many times our bodies are lacking sufficient hydration and we don’t even realize it, but our bodies do. When we don’t have enough water in our system it affects everything from our appetite to our skin.
Water also does a great job of flushing the system. This is a tremendous help when your body is trying to rid itself of old junk and gunk.
Many people credit eating whole with giving them more stamina, better health, and even freedom from chronic conditions. When you decide to lose weight with whole foods, you aren’t just changing your appearance you are changing your health.
Eating whole foods allows you to heal your body from the inside out. Consider giving it a try; what do you have to lose?