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Unlock Your Health: Transform Your Body with One Simple Change


I always make a list when I go to the grocery store. I am a meal planner and try to map out the week ahead and get the items I need (plus cashew butter because I always need cashew butter!)

90% of the items I purchase are on the perimeter of the store such as produce, seafood, meat, dairy, eggs. I do enjoy perusing the middle aisles to see if I can find anything to make a slightly easier dinner or satiate my growing kiddos, but alas, I pick up an item, look at the ingredients and end up putting back 99.9% of things.


I will give you a specific example. Growing up the spaghetti argument was Prego or Ragu. That was it! Prego or Ragu. Needless to say, times have changed. The selection alone in the pasta sauce aisle would blow my 1985 mind. So let's look at a Ragu label in 2024.


So, looks good-ish to start with tomato paste and the second ingredient is diced tomatoes, but then it is tomato juice and SUGAR! The ingredient list goes on to say ‘its cool, we only have 1% of these other items…seed oil, citric acid and my personal favorite, ‘natural flavorings.’

 

"Natural flavorings" in food are substances used to enhance or impart flavor and are derived from natural sources. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), natural flavors are extracted from plants, herbs, fruits, vegetables, spices, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof. These flavorings can come from various parts of these natural sources, including the bark, root, leaves, or flowers.

However, the term "natural flavorings" can be somewhat misleading, as the extraction and processing methods can involve significant chemical modification.

The FDA does not have to approve natural flavorings, each individual company gets to decide if they are GRAS (generally regarded as safe)…So food companies get to create a product and decide it is safe enough for human consumption. I would call that the epitome of sub-optimal. Now, tag onto that the amount of processed food that we eat and our body is in a constant battle with limitless natural flavorings that are anything but!

 

To add insult to injury on this label you see big and bold ‘GLUTEN FREE’ and ‘40% of daily vegetables.’ These two labels trick the average consumer into thinking they are making a good choice off the shelves, but the claims are not true. If you look at that ingredient list, what are the vegetables in this product??


I will wait...


TOMATOES ARE A FRUIT…I WILL LEAVE IT AT THAT.

 

Now let’s look at the Raos. Italian whole peeled tomatoes, olive oil, onions, salt, basil, black pepper, oregano.


I have those ingredients in my kitchen. I could make my tomatoes sauce with these ingredients if I wanted to.


Easy choice, am I right?

 

With this in mind.


Achieving optimal physical health and meeting weight loss goals can often seem like an all-white puzzle with 1,000 pieces. There is one actionable step you can take today that could have a profound impact on your health and weight loss journey: incorporating more whole foods into your diet!


Understanding Whole Foods

Whole foods are foods that are minimally processed and remain as close to their natural form as possible. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins. These foods are rich in essential nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, all of which are crucial for maintaining good health and supporting weight loss.


The Power of Whole Foods

  1. Nutrient Density and Satiety:

    1. Whole foods are nutrient-dense, meaning they provide a high amount of vitamins and minerals relative to their calorie content. For example, a cup of spinach has just 7 calories but is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and iron.

    2. Research has shown that diets high in fiber, predominantly found in whole foods, can increase feelings of fullness and reduce overall calorie intake. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that increasing dietary fiber significantly enhanced weight loss and adherence to a calorie-restricted diet over 18 months .

  2. Impact on Metabolism and Weight Loss:

    1. Whole foods require more energy for the body to digest and metabolize compared to processed foods, a phenomenon known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). This means your body burns more calories processing whole foods than it does processed foods.

    2. A study published in Food & Nutrition Research found that meals made from whole foods increased TEF by 50% compared to processed meals. This boost in metabolism can aid in weight loss and maintenance.

  3. Reduction in Chronic Disease Risk:

    1. Consuming a diet rich in whole foods can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. A large cohort study published in The Lancet found that higher fruit, vegetable, and legume intake was associated with lower mortality rates and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

    2. Whole grains, in particular, have been linked to a lower risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that individuals who consumed three servings of whole grains daily had a 20-30% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes .

Practical Tips to Incorporate More Whole Foods

  1. Start with Breakfast: Swap out sugary cereals for oatmeal topped with fresh berries and nuts. This simple change can significantly increase your fiber intake and keep you fuller for longer.The goal with all meals is to prioritize protein, plus fiber and fat. The perfect combination of food to keep you satiated and satisfied!

  2. Snack Smart: Replace processed snacks like chips and cookies with whole fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Carrot sticks with hummus or an apple with almond butter are excellent choices.

  3. Cook at Home: Preparing your meals allows you to control the ingredients and ensure they are whole and minimally processed. Try to include a variety of colorful vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains in your dishes. You think the salmon and veggies out are ‘healthy,’ but you have no idea how many seed oils and/or butter is being used to make that take out taste extra delicious. BONUS TIP: If you are interested in trying a new whole food and do not know what to do Google 'Best recipe for _____.' It works everytime!

  4. Read Labels: When you do buy packaged foods, read the ingredient list. Opt for items with minimal ingredients, and avoid those with added sugars, unhealthy fats, and artificial additives. Bottom line, if you don’t know what it is, your body does not need it.

  5. Plan Your Meals: Planning your meals in advance can help you make healthier choices and avoid the temptation of processed convenience foods. Batch cooking and prepping ingredients ahead of time can save you time and keep you on track.

Incorporating more whole foods into your diet is a simple yet powerful step you can take today to improve your physical health and achieve your weight loss goals. By choosing nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, you can enhance satiety, boost your metabolism, and reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Start making small changes now, and you'll likely see significant improvements in your overall well-being and progress towards your fitness goals.

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