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Whole and Processed Foods

What is a Whole Food?


Whole foods are close to what they originally were in nature. It is easy to recognize where a whole food came from because they have not been through a lot of processing and changes. The lack of processing for whole foods means that they will maintain a lot of their nutrients that processing can strip away. This is an awesome benefit we can get by including whole foods in our diets! Whole foods typically will have little to no packaging, and potentially no nutrition label either. Compared to more processed foods, whole foods will spoil much quicker because of a lack of preservatives. Your body is ready to digest whole foods because it knows what they are. Compared to many processed foods you will digest whole foods more slowly, this can be great for helping you stay more full for longer.


Some examples of whole foods include:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Fresh meats

  • Whole intact grains

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Some minimally processed dairy products



How do I know if a food is more processed?


More processed foods are going to look far less natural than whole foods. They may come in a bag or box, and look very little like the vegetable, grain, meat etc. that it originally was. During the manufacturing process, processed foods are made to be extremely palatable and easy to eat. These foods will activate your senses and some of these foods try to really bring out salty or sweet flavors to entice you to eat more of them. Processed foods are more likely to be found in areas that aren’t grocery stores like a gas station. This is because they are really shelf stable and unlike whole foods, won’t go bad as quickly.


Some foods will be in between the spectrum of whole and processed foods. Think canned fruits and vegetables, juices, and breads. Feel free to read the ingredients list and make a decision from there. If you are taking control and being aware of these choices that is awesome! Some foods may work for you now but may not in the future, and vice versa. That’s ok, be flexible and try to make consistent choices to help you reach your own goals. Including more and more whole foods as a part of your nutrition over time can help you reach your goals and keep progressing!


How do you want to incorporate more whole foods?


What’s a processed food that you want to have less often?


When we get hungry, reaching for a quickly ready processed food is easy, so planning ahead and having plenty of whole foods in your kitchen can be a huge help!


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