I know you’re thinking “Really? Do we really need a skeptic’s guide to whole food?” Yes. Yes we do.
Let me ask you some simple questions.
Do you have chips in your cupboard?
Do you have packaged lunch meat in your fridge?
Do you still buy cereal?
Do you believe you are saving money at the store buying processed foods?
If you answered yes to any of those questions then you need to read this post.
I find too often we are in a hurry to “recreate” everything in our house to fit our idea of what food is because of the programming we have received from marketers.
Does this mean we can’t make combinations of food, casseroles, or pies because we are keeping it in the simplest form? No. What I am urging you to do is change your view on food to simplicity and health in the truest sense.
A Word on Processing
The word “process” encompasses a wide variety of ways to deal with something be it food, metal, computing, etc. What processed means in the simplest terms when used with regard to food is to take something as it was and change it.
Sometimes that process is a natural course of action and involuntary. Other times it takes mechanized and chemical operations to make that change. In the end, all processes in regards to food create change.
The processes revolving around food are either harmful or helpful. With regard to cooking raw meat, this is a helpful process that kills poisonous bacteria and aides in digestion. When meat is left under cooked, it runs the risk of creating infection. Overcooking our meat can cause other health issues by leaving the food with much less nutrients and even add carcinogens to the body.
When we cook vegetables, depending on the type we are using, we are either releasing potent vitamins and minerals or we are devitalizing these beneficial components by using any form of heat at all.
These same concepts follow how we deal with grains, fruit and dairy as well.
What I am considering in this post is the processing that manufactures use to keep food in the shelves, the fridge or the freezer. We will leave the other forms of processing for another article. 😉
How Processed Foods Affect the Body
Eating foods laden with chemicals (natural or otherwise) those not originally found in that food or that have been added to the food for taste enhancement or preservation often lead to chain reactions in the body that we were not designed to handle. These additions are not giving us more nutrition. They often create a blockage in our body rendering the food useless and even toxic.
Have you ever felt like you ate all day long only to be left hungry and unsatisfied still? Check out what you are eating. Likely the food you are ingesting is loaded with extras. These extras not only create those blockages but they mess with your metabolism too.
When your body is processing food to create health in you (that’s how God designed us to work) we have innumerable and positive chain reactions occurring in our body and many of these reactions are supposed to continue long term to give us sustained energy. Some are meant to be short-lived, giving us just what we need when we need it.
The long-term chain reactions are those that often occur with the metabolism of fats and protein such as: meat, dairy, eggs and healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, and others. These help our hormones to be healthy and balanced. They aid our bodies in creating muscle, blood vessels, strengthening or bones, and much more.
We have other, usually shorter in duration, chain reactions. This is where carbs come in, bringing that much-needed energy. The ones we like to focus on have longer, slower burning energy compared to their processed counter parts, but are still shorter compared to proteins and fats.
All are vital components to a healthy body and mind. But when our metabolism can’t use them efficiently or we have a “blocked” system, we lose out on what the food can give and the nutrients we need to thrive, not just survive.
Toxic additives used in processing include but are not limited to:
Click on the image to download the PDF. For handy reference, in addition to listing additives and preservatives you should avoid, we have also included a list of produce it is best to buy organic (the dirty dozen) and produce in which it is okay to buy conventional varieties (the clean fifteen). Print this list out for when you go grocery shopping.
These additives have been deemed safe for ingestion in small quantities and for only short periods of time. But for many people these additives are found in most of the foods they eat on a daily basis. They become built up in the system and cause damage in the long run. The less you have of all of these the better.
What are Whole Foods?
Whole foods seem pretty obvious to most people, right? Wrong. Sadly there is still some dissension in the ranks as to what qualifies a “whole food.”
In essence whole food is a nutritious substance ingested in order to maintain life and growth left complete in an undamaged unbroken state.
That definition should allow for easy recognition. We can eat simply and live healthy by choosing whole foods. Our bodies were made to respond best to the simplest forms of food. For the most part all food left in an unbroken state provide the most nutrition and are usually most digestible in this state.
There are some foods that are best cooked like meat and fish. We can also process at home by “soaking” and low heat cooking to release helpful enzymes and life giving nutrients. Those foods include grains, legumes, beans and some of the more hearty vegetables like kale, broccoli, cabbage and sweet potatoes.
Other foods that fit this category of helpful whole processing are dairy products. Think kefir, yogurt, cheese, and butter. We tend to digest and metabolize these best according to emerging evidence when they are fermented (a natural process of aging) and/or inoculating with healthy bacteria and keeping at a low temperature.
When we stop trying to make everything over by constant processing to last longer or “taste better” like what we find in our local store, we often tend to receive a lot more energy from our food. We feel super satisfied and enjoy the pleasure of eating simple meals with our families.
How Whole Food Affects the Body
If you read my last article on Nutritional Differences in Whole and Processed Foods you will see just how little nutritional value there is in the foods I compared. The post is a super simplified list of a few of the foods I compared in my studies.
Were you complete this same research with a fraction of the processed foods in the stores today you would spend countless hours only to find that almost all processed foods contain little nutritional value the way God intended and they often contain a large quantity of poisons in the form of chemical or “natural” additives taken from their original source no longer.
So how do whole foods affect the body?
- they give you vitamins and minerals in a balanced state
- they bring balance to the digestive system
- they give you the most bio-available nutrients
- you stay fuller longer
- they bring you energy by the chemical reactions they create when eaten whole
- they cleanse your colon
When you start breaking down foods for nutritional evidence and to find the affects on the body science can only take us so far. There is always something unknown. And it is these unknown factors that most likely make a tremendous difference to our bodies and our health.
Can I Afford to Change?
In my opinion, you can’t afford not to. That doesn’t help you does it? Let’s get real here.
When I first started eating whole-real foods the only reason I did so was to save money. As I learned and grew it became a reality of truth that our best lives lived would be helped by what we put in our bodies. How we took care of this body would bring honor and glory to God.
Later, it did become a real life health issue as we had digressed back into bad habits. I started seeing changes in my children and self that were not good.
The money saved by not needing prescriptions and surgery’s is huge. The money invested in our healthy choices is priceless.
Am I perfect? No, I find that I can still revert to my old, old habits. What happens? We get busy and we start eating out or buying processed foods again, our food bill always goes up and our health usually declines.
The research (evidence based science) is countless and seemingly endless when looking into how chemicals, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, preservatives and denatured foods affect the body. There is so much information pointing us to truth. Much more now then in the past.
You can choose to believe the lies of the packaging touting the value of processed foods, you can believe me when I tell you that there is much research pointing to falsified claims of those well paid advertisers, you can do the research yourself, or you can bury your head in the sand choosing to believe that none of it matters. I leave it to you to decide
If you keep up with us here at Intoxicated on Life you will find resources coming soon and already existing on how to bless your family and self with simple whole food recipes, budgeting tips and buying in bulk.
A Word of Encouragement
I know it can feel incredibly disheartening to switch over to whole, real food as food prices keep skyrocketing. I have been there and can still feel it. Make the changes one week, one step, one meal or snack at a time.
My next post will include detailed steps on how to do this. Till then pray about how to change and remember: the closer the food is to its original “harvesting” before the process, the less expensive it will be long term and the less harmful to your health. I am not telling you to buy organic only, just real!