The most basic concept behind a whole foods based diet is to focus on the QUALITY of the calories you are consuming, not on the AMOUNT of calories you are consuming.
If I can sum it up in one statement, it would be one we've all heard many times - YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! The food you eat becomes your blood, affecting the quality of your cells, tissues, organs, and mind. That is why being conscious of what you eat and regulating your choices is the most basic and practical way to change how you feel on a daily basis and for the long term.
To understand the basic theory behind a clean, whole foods diet, we have to first understand what happens when food goes into our bodies. We all know the food you eat goes into your digestive system (your gut), but the most important thing to understand about this process is that up to 80% of your immune system response originates in the gut. The way in which your immune system 'responds' is based on WHAT enters the gut - or - your food and drink choices!
Most people understand that one of the immune system's roles is to protect from disease and illness but what does the immune system have to do with maintaining a healthy body weight? A lot, actually...one of the most important roles that it plays is COMMUNICATION & MANAGEMENT! It tells your body's other systems when and how to digest or process what it coming into your gut - your food or drink. The most basic way to think about this is when it sees something it recognizes (ex: whole foods from nature), the immune system has the ability to tell your body exactly what to do with it, and your body responds accordingly and in the way it should -breaking down the food into its macro and micro nutrient components for use. Your body is an amazingly intelligent machine that makes literally millions of decisions each second and it innately knows how to process whole, real food into everything your body needs to lead a healthy, disease free life.
The problems arise when your immune system doesn't recognize what is coming in and instead of telling the other systems what to do, it just 'marks' that food as a potential threat. Often your body can process this threat with ease, but what happens over time (weeks, months, years) is that these 'marked threats' build up because while the immune system has identified them as a threat, it doesn't know exactly what to do with them and there are too many. These 'somethings' are environmental toxins, GMO's, food additives, excess hormones, etc. from the food we eat that is not whole, real food! The more of these products we eat, the more 'energy' our immune system will spend on trying to rid our bodies of these toxins and/or store them and, for lack of a better term, they 'clog up' our system and throw our body off balance. This eventually leads to weight gain and chronic disease.
So, if choosing whole foods is the best way to stay healthy, including maintaining a healthy weight, what are the right foods to eat? The best way to think about it is to eat foods that are in their most natural state, close from the source (where it grew or was raised), and minimally processed. In the coming weeks, I will post more blogs that will help you further explore a whole foods based diet including:
1. Defining 'Healthy' Whole Food Choices - What to specifically look for, avoid, and include for each of the main macro-nutrient groups - carbohydrates, proteins, and fats! We will define what quality and healthy means specifically when it comes to animal proteins, dairy, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. To get a head start on this, check out our blog on Eating Organic to get the basics down first!
2. Long Term Success & The Benefits of a Whole Foods Diet - We will discuss what types of changes you can expect to see in your weight, health and general state of well being as well as what long and short term benefits to look forward to and how to be successful!
Keep your eye out for these posts coming out over the next several weeks, but feel free to reach out to us in the meantime with any questions! ~ Billie
Billie Shellist, FDN-P
I practice functional nutrition, an approach that allows me to look at your entire health history and help you find the "root causes" of your chronic health complaints.
This cuts out the trial and error process and helps you get real symptom relief and resolution!
Food is medicine and knowledge is power -I hope you enjoy my anti-inflammatory recipes which are gluten, dairy, and soy free as well as very low grain and sugar.
If you'd like to heal from the root cause(s) of your chronic symptoms, try starting with a complimentary 15-minute consultation. Click here to request your free session.