We are all frequent visitors to general stores and supermarkets, for our groceries and snack time foods. However, how often do you skip out on the bag of cheesy oily chips and opt for something from the organic shelf? With the changing times, we must also look out for our well-being and nutrition sources – a diet and lifestyle with better nutrition does wonders where processed foods do the opposite. Before we go any further, it is important to understand the difference between whole foods and processed foods. Processed foods are basically those foods that are stripped of one or more of their original elements – they are put through processes over and over again, and at the end, they barely have any valuable nutrients or fibres.
Whole foods on the other hand, or Natural foods, have been provided to us by nature. For example, fresh whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, fish and unprocessed meats & eggs. We all are, after all, a part of nature – designed to thrive essentially on natural foods. Sounds like a great idea, but where do you start? Here are our two bits.
The transition from your regular lifestyle to a natural foods diet could be difficult – you will be giving up what you love the most – fast food, fizzy drinks, and for those like me, the occasional brownies or cookies (the fatty kind!). However, slowly incorporating changes into your diet and lifestyle help you smoothly shift to a whole-food-based diet:
- Eat more vegetables, as often as you can. I recommend keeping a box of chopped up salad vegetables at hand for instant hunger pangs
- Fill up on a salad, or a vegetable/boiled chicken soup (like carrot & celery, pumpkin spice or a tomato celery soup) before your main meal
- Cook with plant-based oils – mustard, olive, and sesame
- Snack on nuts & seeds more often – grab a Gouri’s Goodies Energy Bar (such a variety of flavours, you will find your favourite) or a bag of the delicious Mini Bites for a mid-meal snack at all hours of the day. Nutritious goodness goes a long way!
- Sip on unsweetened coffee or tea – a quick mug of light black tea with a lemon squeeze is enriching for your sleepy days!
- Choose a roasted chicken over a bucket of fried chicken! You will not be compromising on taste, trust me. Even better if it is home-cooked with your choice of herbs and seasoning
- Begin to replace the main staples like white rice with brown rice or cauliflower rice and white bread with a loaf of multigrain bread (If you have the time, I recommend baking your own multigrain loaves – this gives you the option of altering the grains & spices according to your taste. A Sunday activity or perhaps a lockdown breather?)
- When it comes to fish, skip the fried type and go for a steamed or oven-cooked alternative!
- Reduction of portion size - this works best when trying to eliminate a type of food from your diet. Halve your dessert serving for a smoother transition!
Whether you call it clean eating or simply avoiding processed foods, the basic idea is to eliminate food that is prepared over and over again. There are some benefits to a natural and organic manner of eating:
Avoid Possible Health Risks from Pesticides – When it comes to organic produce, these are grown without any chemical use (or at least, as less as possible). As against purchasing from a regular seller, if you choose organic produce, there is a higher chance of avoiding chemicals and pesticides in your foods.
Contains helpful nutrients – organic foods contain whole nutrients that are not depleted by chemical applications. Always the wiser choice for a better lifestyle!
Pure energy – why not? Natural foods, that avoid chemical treatment and applications, provide lower levels of toxins and offer a much higher level of energy to those consuming them.
Optimal function is the need of the hour, and slowly transitioning to a natural diet may just help you achieve that – with a crunch, a munch and a nutritious bunch! On a lighter note, like George Bernard Shaw says, ‘There is no sincerer love than the love of food’. Let us fall in love with food – raw, natural, unspoiled food!