I have to admit that in the past, when I started a new diet, I would go into it with gusto, hitting my kitchen with a vengeance and cleaning out every “bad” food from my cupboards and fridge. I still hang my head in shame, thinking about all of the money wasted as I gathered food to deliver to the local food pantry or threw in the garbage can.
When I made the decision to transition to a whole food way of life, I knew that I couldn’t just charge ahead and do what I had done previously. First of all, I am simply not bringing in as much income as I was one year ago, and so affording to completely gut my diet and replace it with organic produce and pastured meats just wasn’t an option for me.
But I also know that on a mental and emotional level, easing into a completely new way of eating is much easier to handle, and it gives me plenty of time to discover new recipes to have in my cooking arsenal to make things easier.
The first thing that I decided to do was to give up diet soft drinks. I am replacing those primarily with some good spring water, and if I really need something sweet to drink, I will fix myself a cold decaf chai latte with whole raw milk or some fresh squeezed lemonade, sweetened with raw honey. That took a little getting used to, and occasionally I get a craving, but it’s been pretty painless…..for the most part.
The second decision was to give up all of the chemical filled, processed snack foods. Those are almost gone now and now I’m looking at some traditional substitutions. I really love raw, unsalted almonds, and bananas with a little bit of homemade almond butter. Even though I still have some of the processed snacks, I often find myself reaching for a piece of fruit, some cut veggies or a handful of almonds to snack on instead. They just make me feel better.
Luckily for me, I had already cut out pretty much all fast food, and I really don’t miss it. If I am going to go for fast food, now I try to opt for better choices and avoid burgers and fries! I had to eat a meal this past week in which my only choice was pretty much a burger and fries and I was amazed at how sluggish and gross it made me feel. I was actually craving fresh produce like crazy after this meal!
I’ve made the choice to not completely do away with canned goods, but I am cutting way back and using more fresh and frozen. The few canned goods that I do use, come from companies that use BPA free cans. But diced tomatoes that I use for cooking will be canned.
I have become an avid label reader and will not put something in my shopping cart without knowing what is in it. I was completely shocked at how much hidden sugar and chemicals are being smuggled into products that I would not expect it to be in…and I avoid those products now. A little label reading, especially if you are going to use some canned goods, can help you to find the products that are the cleanest, and those you should avoid!
As I use up my old, processed foods, they are replaced with traditional options. I’ve found that these foods taste better, fill me up longer and give me more energy.
I am now eating at about 60-70% whole food, and I hope to be eating at 90-95% within another couple of months, if not sooner.
So if you are looking to transition to a whole food diet, what can you do?
1. Reduce the amount of fast food you are consuming. Limit the amount of times you drive through the drive-thru and choose restaurant that have healthier food options such as salads. Eventually work towards phasing fast food out completely. Once you do, you will discover quickly just how bad those foods make you feel if you consume them again!
2. Choose which foods you are going to ultimately give up and don’t buy anymore of that item. You don’t have to throw it away, but simply use it until it’s gone, and don’t purchase any more.
3. Start moving away from boxed or packaged meals and start cooking from scratch. There are lots of great recipes that are simple and quick and don’t take much more time than fixing a packaged meal…..but they are much, much healthier for you, and they taste better too and are way more satisfying!
4. READ LABELS! There are lots of hidden chemicals, sugar, artificial colors, artificial flavors and preservatives in so much packaged food. Know what you are buying and ultimately putting in your body. Knowledge is power, so educate yourself! If you are like me, once you start reading labels you will get angry at how much junk the food companies are selling to us!
It is okay to transition at a pace that works for you and your family. Whole food eating is about lifestyle change and is not a diet! If you transition slowly, you will be more likely to make those changes permanent. Don’t forget to have fun while discovering all of the new flavors of whole foods. They really are good…and good for you!