Today I’m going to dive deeper into the subject of starting a real food/whole food diet. Specifically, we’re going to talk about how to incorporate whole foods into your diet.
In this post, I’ll share my favorite tips to gradually switch your cooking over to fewer ingredients, how to not get discouraged on your healthy eating journey, and some of my favorite real food bloggers to go to for delicious recipes!
What is a whole food?
I talk about this is my intro post to this month’s “series” of blog posts, so if you haven’t read that yet and want to know what a “whole food” or “real food” diet, it, go check it out! You can find it here
What does a whole food look like?
Like I talked about in the intro post, whole foods look like the foods you would find in natural, or at very least in their most minimally-processed state.
They looks like fruits and veggies you either buy whole or can easily recognize (I’m all for pre-chopped veggies as a way to save time).
They can also look like a roast or a steak, or even hamburger or sausage so long as you can tell that they actually contain meat and not a bunch of fillers.
While whole food are not limited to fruits, vegetables, and meats. These are some of the easiest ones to incorporate into your diet. You probably already eat some of them anyway.
If you’re used to cooking some meals that include meat and/or veggies, try to increase the number of meals like those that you make each week.
How to incorporate whole foods into your diet
1. Cook more from scratch
One of the easiest ways to incorporate more whole foods into your diet is to cook from scratch.
Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated either. It can be as easy as dumping a couple ingredients into a crockpot or skillet and stirring them a couple times as they cook.
Since I want this blog to focus more on the “why” of natural living and how to do it on a budget without getting overwhelmed, I will not be sharing recipes very often. Maybe eventually I will, but there are other people who are way better at coming up with their own recipes and taking good photos of them.
However, I will gladly link to other real food bloggers, many of whom are moms, who have this recipe thing down.
Here are some of my favorite real food mom bloggers to follow for recipes. I will link to their recipe pages, but feel free to check out the rest of their blogs as well!
2. Start with base ingredients
Starting with base ingredients goes hand in hand with cooking from scratch, but depending on how acclimated you are to the concept of cooking from scratch, dumping in a premade sauce or making a cake out of a box might count as “cooking from scratch”.
This won’t be an overnight thing, but as you go along, make a conscious attempt to replace pre-made sauces and mixes by starting with the individual ingredients.
For example, you can make your own spaghetti sauce by starting with plain tomato sauce, some herbs or Italian seasoning, and some browned hamburger. Not only will you know everything that goes into your spaghetti sauce, but homemade meat sauce tastes some much better than the “meat-flavored” kind you find in stores.
There are many other things you can make from scratch without taking much more time than a mix from the store. For example, simple cookies and cakes take 5-10 minutes to mix up at most and taste so much better than grocery bakery ones that are fully of hydrogenated oils.
3. Try to Meal Plan and Prep Ingredients
One of the worst feelings is getting motivated to eat healthier, buying the ingredients, and then having them go bad because you didn’t use them in time.
If you’re like me and a strict meal plan doesn’t seem to work very well, maybe just decide on 4-5 meals you want to make for supper in the coming week. That way, you don’t necessarily have a dish assigned to a certain night and won’t feel like a meal planning failure for not following your plan because life got in the way.
If you are a stay-at-home mom and tend to come up with your lunch plans based on what you feel like that day, have a couple things in your fridge you can easily grab and turn into a meal.
Having fruits and veggies already cut up is also really handy when you have kids who want food NOW. If you cut them up right after you finish grocery shopping (or as soon as they’re ripe), you can grab them and put together a quick meal.
Some ideas for lunches might be:
4. Don’t switch everything at once
I talked about this a little in my intro post, but trying to fix your family’s whole diet all at once is a sure fire way to get burned out.
Focus on one thing at a time. Maybe that is learning how to roast veggies and some meat on a sheet pan. Or maybe you’re trying your hand at making homemade bread (here’s a simple recipe).
Whichever skill you choose to learn or food you switch first, don’t get discouraged that it’s a “small” step.
Small steps are the best because they get you moving in the right direction. Once you have a few of these under your belt, you’ll probably gain some momentum in changing other parts of your diet.
But even if you don’t go as fast as you’d like, keep this in mind: small, slow steps are what lead to a more sustainable lifestyle change than one day just throwing everything processed out of the pantry and changing everything at once.
Changing a part of your lifestyle is a process, not something that can happen overnight. If you slowly incorporate whole foods into your diet, you can produce to sustainable change that is more likely to last for weeks and months (and hopefully years) to come.
Here are some action tips for you try this week:
Start paying attention to ingredient labels. Do you know what an ingredient on the label is?
Try to go for the fewest ingredients possible. Could you easily make it at home with fewer ingredients?
Prep your produce as soon as you bring it home. You’d be amazing at how much easier it is to eat healthy when you can just “grab and go”.
What are your go-to whole foods for when you need a quick snack or lunch?