Before I go any deeper into this topic, I want to clarify what diet means in the context of this blog post and also my coaching practice. Diet comprises all the foods we eat on a daily and regular basis. It’s about the kind of food and drinks we ingest rather than the act of restricting or cutting down calories. There are many types of diets out there, and it is likely one of the most researched health topics. Nonetheless, it is also one of the areas we might slack and struggle with the most. The information available to the public is also often confusing and contradictory.
Throughout the years, I have battled and punched myself a lot because of food and how I relate to it. Food is a central pillar of health and well-being. Whether our goal is to live healthily or improve our mental health, many solutions to our problems come from managing and learning about what we eat. Should you do keto? What about the Mediterranean diet? Or raw food? There is a plethora of different diets, each one of them linked to specific goals and outcomes. I believe, however, that if your goal is to live healthily and look after your well-being, then the whole-foods diet is the best path to take.
The whole-food approach to diet is simple and natural. It is based on fresh, whole ingredients that cover different groups of food. This is a diet that can be adapted to any culture because its principles are common to all traditional diets. These include:
- high intake and high variety of plant-based foods
- moderate intake of protein of quality
- low intake of highly processed foods
Most traditional cuisines respect these principles but people worldwide have fallen for microwaveable meals and ingredients that are very far away from their natural state. These ingredients include added sugar, salt, and trans fat among other food additives and preservatives. Opposed to this is the whole-foods approach because it is focused on high-quality and nutrient-dense foods. It promotes healing and fights inflammation, one of the common factors of diseases such as diabetes, mental disorders, and cancer.
|High intake||Moderate intake||Minimal intake|
|Plant-based foods||Quality protein||Processed foods|
|vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds||Sea-food, lean meats, dairy||breakfast cereals, crisps, sausage rolls, pies, pastries, bacon, microwave meals, cakes, cookies, biscuits, soft drinks|
By prioritizing foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and legumes, the whole-foods diet contributes to our gut mucosal immunity. A healthy gut is crucial for a healthy brain and good mental health. Our body requires greater doses of minerals and vitamins to work properly and be able to transform the food we eat into energy. If you are having protein, carbs, and fat but you are not replenishing your body with the necessary micronutrients provided by vegetables and fruits, you won’t feel and be at your best. That’s mainly where the whole-food diet will help you the most.
Although I’ve tried different approaches to diet, I have always thought that balance is key and that’s what we find in the whole-foods approach to diet. We don’t have to ban processed foods forever but we need to be more conscious of the frequency we consume them. Many of my snacks were based on cookies, biscuits, and breakfast cereals. These contain a lot of added sugar and they were responsible for aggravated mental health issues and physical problems. Replacing these foods with fruits and whole grains has been a huge game-changer.
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Anyone who knows me knows that I love Mediterranean food and appreciate the myriad of scientific studies that demonstrate its benefits. In this blog post, I will share what the scientific community has to say about osteoarthritis (OA) and the Mediterranean diet (MDiet).Keep reading