What’s the difference between processed and whole foods?
This is so important if you are ready to take your health to a new and healthier level. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, one of Benjamin Franklin’s favorite quotes. Choosing to eat mostly whole foods and ditching the processed junk is the best and fastest way to prevent and reverse dis-ease.
So many of the processed food products you see on the market shelves can barely be considered “food” because they have little, if any, nutritional value. They contain ingredients and chemicals that harm the body instead of promoting health for the body. They look and taste good, but when it comes to fueling and energizing the body, refined, processed and manufactured foods fall very short of this task. They don’t fuel and nourish the body; they rob you of energy and vitality, causing weight gain, fatigue and illness.
Why do manufacturers use processed products?
Manufacturers are interested in one thing—profits. So they seek out the cheapest ingredients they can find, mix them together with lots of transfats and sugars and other chemical agents. Take a look at a box of cereal for example. This is a product that costs about .35 cents to manufacture, but sells for over $4! They strip the grain used, then turn around and fortify it with chemical nutrients so the buyer thinks it’s a healthy product.
The best example of a refined and processed product is white flour. All of the good stuff (the fiber and germ) have been removed because they aren’t shelf-stable. Another product that confuses man people is rice. Brown rice is a whole food. White rice is processed. In other words, the fiber and germ of a grain can turn rancid when left on the shelf because they contain oils. This shortens the life of the product. To solve this problem, manufactures strip that good stuff away and what’s left is a lifeless, odorless product. Foods that have been separated from the rest of the plant that they come from are considered “processed.” Sugar, potato chips, crackers, cereals, and instant anything are all examples of processed products.
What is a whole food?
The majority of unprocessed foods can be found in the produce section of your favorite market. These foods are in, more or less, the same state as they were harvested on the farm. Other whole foods include whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes (beans and lentils). These foods nourish your body down to the cellular level. Your body recognizes these foods because they are naturally derived from the soil. The closer they are to the soil, the more nutrients they will have that your body needs. Whole foods are filled with life and information your body can use immediately.
What are refined, processed and manufactured foods?
Processed products (notice I don’t call them food) are stripped of the good nutrients your body needs. They are made with preservatives so they can sit on the shelf for long periods of time without turning bad. During processing, high heat is often used to grind, separate or alter the individual ingredients so they will combine easily with others, so they package well. These products are usually filled with cheaply made ingredients like transfats, sugars, and refined white flour. They can be “enhanced” or “fortified” with chemical nutrients to replace what was stripped out. They offer little substance, nutrition or value to the body.
There are three ways to determine if a food is processed:
- Processed foods are usually found in boxes, bottles, and bags.
- They come with an ingredient list with words you don’t understand or can’t pronounce.
- These foods have ingredient labels filled with ingredients from artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners to refined and processed fats.
Ready to start decreasing processed foods & increasing whole foods? Here’s how.
Step 1: is to make a firm decision to improve your overall health, then commit to it. Your brain has to make a shift from, “I’m hungry!” to “What does my body need right now. For those having to switch to a gluten-free lifestyle (remember, eating gluten-free is not a diet change, it is a lifestyle change) your brain needs to see all of the new possibilities that you will become aware of instead of focusing on what you are giving up. What you say to yourself is important when rewiring your brain. It needs to keep a clear focus on the good health you are moving toward and why it is important to you. Food will either nourish your body or tear it down. There should be no gray area in between!
Step 2: Know WHY this is so important to you. Your why is what motivates you so you will succeed. When you tell yourself that it’s okay to slide on your commitment to get and stay healthy, your why is going to be the one thing to get you back on track and “keep you honest”. When you feel too tired to eat healthy, your why is what pushes you to eat something that will energize you.
Ask yourself some questions such as:
- Why do I want to be healthy?
- Am I sick and tired of being sick and tired?
- Do I want to feel better?
- Do I want to be around when my children graduate, get married, have children of the own?
- Would I rather spend money enjoying life or feeling tired, overwhelmed and spending money on doctor visits and medications?
- What kind of difference do I want to make to the world that my dis-ease keeps me from doing?
Take that “why” and lock front and center in your brain. Hold onto that and remember it whenever you are tempted to make unhealthy choices. Keep your focus on making the healthiest choices for what your body needs.
Time to put on the brakes!
Step 3: Give one or two new things a try. I want you to also realize that seeking optimal health and dis-ease reversal is going to take time and a lot of trial and error. Imagine that health is kind of like a big Mack truck that going downhill at 100 miles an hour. The first thing you need to do is gently apply the breaks. The truck isn’t going to stop immediately. The idea is to just decelerate the momentum that has built up until you can come to a complete stop.
Step 4: Turn the truck around and start going uphill again…slowly building up momentum again to accelerate gentle the uphill climb. This whole process takes time, patience and a lot of trial and error. Consider taking 30 days to commit to learning how to plan, shop for, store, and prepare food. In our program, you will learn all of these things.
Time to make room for good food choices
Step 5: This may be the hardest step. It’s time to go through your cupboards, refrigerator, freezer, pantry and get rid of the processed products that you once thought of as being “food”. This removes all temptations to reach for these things when you’re feeling tired, depressed or in a time crunch. Everyone has moments of weakness, so this step is vital to keep you on a positive health track!
This is a great time to bring the entire family in on your journey. It is an awesome learning experience for both young and old. Read labels together and become more aware of the added ingredients found in processed foods. Even if your family isn’t on board with your new adventure, they can hopefully be supportive. Some family members may have meltdowns during this process. But you can create a separate space in a cabinet where the processed products will be out of sight and less tempting.
Cathy is a certified Wellness Educator and Coach with a strong passion to help people who are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, in their journey to improve their overall health and vitality. As a Healthy Lifestyle Planner, Cathy shares all of her practical lifestyle practices to reduce stress, recover lost energy, restore immune health 365 days a year. She empowers people to hit the pause button in life and be more proactive with their health. She uses evidence-based lifestyle interventions to prevent lifestyle related diseases and promote health. This type of approach empowers individuals with the knowledge and life skills to make effective behavioral changes that address the underlying causes of their conditions.
Cathy is also the creator and director of the Holistic Wellness Academy; an online training platform. The site offers clients and practitioners step-by-step courses that are short and actionable. Each course is loaded with scientifically-backed information, ideas and practical, time-saving tips that empower and motivate people to successfully navigate through all the distractions life throws at us. She is also finalizing her newest program, “RESTORE Your Immune System.” This program explains why people are struggling to stay healthy and the steps they can take to balance and restore the body back to its natural homeostasis. Today it is so important for people to take back control of their health in order to reverse dis-ease.