March 24, 2012

What is a Whole Food Anyhow?

Note: I am still "in training" for maintenance and will post my next update on that at mid-week but this post was dominating my thoughts--namely, the importance of shopping  versus eating choices. Nance

Once you get home from the store, your near-future eating choices are pretty much defined--only the sequence remains in doubt. Therefore, the time to grab hold of your emotional commitment to improved health and body profile is on the way to the STORE, not your kitchen. 

That said, as I walked into a store the other day I pondered my mantra of "eat whole foods." What does that mean, I asked myself. After all, I usually start my day with ground/heated/filtered coffee to which I add cream and honey--nothing in that mug can truthfully be called "whole" and I am at peace with that. 

BUT I am standing in a personal commitment to optimize my health and avoiding a dependency on prescribed drugs for as long as possible. So how does "eat whole foods" influence  what goes into my shopping cart? Picture if you will the insides of your local grocery store. For the moment, erase the non-food products such as pet food, cleaning/hygiene products and birthday cards, school supplies, etc.

Half or less of what's in your store is intended to be chewed/swallowed. And of those items, less than half are still close enough to their natural state for easy recognition. Don't scoff! Open that bag of chips/crackers, or cake mix, or even a can of Mountain Dew and identify ALL the ingredients without looking at the packaging--take your time, I'll wait.

Point made, I hope. When I go to the store I walk around the outside first and grab fresh vegetables and fruits plus chunks/pieces of meat and fish/shellfish. Hold any of that in your hand and you won't need a label to tell you what it is. I duck into the aisle to grab canned salmon/sardines--open those cans and you can indeed name them without a label. I walk down another aisle and by visual clues alone I can find olive/coconut oil although I frequently buy online for better quality. In similar fashion, eggs work and even Kerrygold butter, organic cream/milk and frozen organic fruits/vegetables are fine.  And yes, I also buy ground coffee beans and I don't plan to stop but at least they are not the exclusive result of a chemical mixing process with a goal of simulating nutrients.

See? It's really pretty easy and once you accept the concept that to be "food" it must be identifiable by appearance, smell and taste you don't have to be an "expert" to select whole foods. Or make them 90% of your nutrition.

Once you get home with your bounty, just fix meals using the most perishable items first and let your eyes/stomach decide the sequence of the rest. Sounds like "eat whole foods" to me!


  1. Sounds exactly like the way I do MY grocery shopping/food prep: simple, easy, and straightforward. We're on the same page in many things, Nance!

    1. Thanks, Kathleen! I agree, yet it seems to be a scary concept for many.

  2. Me too. Actually, once I committed to cutting sugar/grains/PUFAs my shopping got a whole lot easier. What ended up in the cart depended on how hungry I was going in and what time of day it was. Late afternoon? Sugar time.

    Now, I hit very few zones - produce, dairy (for organic milk/cheese/cream), very rarely meat (grassfed beef in my freezer and I have issues with the ethics of commercial fisheries - about once a week I buy a whole organic chicken), grocery (whole raw buckwheat, tortillas for my kids, salsa, olives/olive oil, shampoo, cat food)... and that's it, I'm outta there.

    Saturday we buy organic eggs, salads, broccoli, parsnips, potatoes, leeks and other seasonal stuff at the outdoor farmer's market. ANd of course flowers...

    I agree it's good to get into a shopping routine and it's also great not to be a slave to your cravings in the store. What a relief!!