Healthy Eating: The Whole Foods Approach

whole foods

No, not that Whole Food’s. A balanced diet that consists of a protein, carbohydrate, and (good) fat at very meal. Conventional “wisdom” tells us to stray from foods with a generally higher fat content. It has also ingrained the notion that these same foods with high fat content are not good for us and should be avoided at all costs. In turn, food companies and marketers alike have taken necessary steps to promote and push products onto consumers that are made up of a lower fat content and in some cases, no fat content at all. Additionally, a lot of these lower fat and zero fat foods are still processed heavily, destroying pertinent nutrients that our bodies both crave and require. Whole foods, which sometimes (but don’t always) contain a higher fat content, will provide you with both more energy and feeling of satiation.

All too often we seek out the quick, easy alternative due to the nature of our fast-paced lifestyles. An example of a common misconception in our society today is that instant oatmeal is good for us, but in reality this highly processed food only has 2% of nutrients. Rolled oats are slightly better for you, as they possess 40% of nutrients but only keeps you satiated for a short while. Steel cut oats, which are a whole food, contain 100% of nutrients and after consumption, will leave one feeling satiated for hours. At the time when egg whites became somewhat of a diet trend, I would order an egg white omelette at the dining hall during my undergraduate years, thinking I was making a perfectly healthy and rationale choice. However, the egg yolks are where most of the nutrients are found and at the time, I didn’t realize that omitting them from my diet only left me yearning for something else to eat not long after. By incorporating more “whole foods” into your diet, you will attain the desired nutrients and will come away from a meal feeling generally satisfied.

A few other examples:

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When I met with integrative health nutritionist Debbie Robel late last year, she provided me with some much-needed tips for ensuring that I get the most out of every one of my meals. By heeding her advice, I have found that I can sustain a high energy level as well as maintain satiation throughout the day. It’s virtually impossible to keep to these guidelines day in and day out, but during the week I try to make an honest effort. To be frank, there are just way too many temptations in my own life to stick to such a regime. Temptations I wouldn’t want to miss out on otherwise and quite simply can’t live without. With that said, I’ve summarized her ‘Guidelines for Healthy Eating’ below.

Guidelines for Healthy Eating

1.) Try to include a protein, carbohydrate, and (good) fat at every meal. By parlaying all three of these components, you garner the necessary vitamins, minerals, and amino acids necessary to stay healthy. When you take a whole foods diet approach to eating, dairy isn’t a necessity because you can get things like calcium in other things, such as kale and spinach greens. I, personally, can’t go a day without cheese and eat Greek yogurt fairly regularly, so this becomes a moot point for me.

Proteins: repair and build muscles, tissues, organs, hair, skin and bones.
Found in: poultry, beef, pork, fish and shellfish, and eggs

Carbs: convert to sugar for energy for support to the muscles, organs, and brain function.
Found in: grains (brown rice, steel cut oats, quinoa, etc.), beans, peas, legumes, lentils

(Good) Fats: lubricates skin, joints, bowels; supports brain function; helps absorb fat- soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K)
Found in: nuts, seeds, avocado, butter, olive oil

2.) Three balanced meals a day.
If you are including a protein, carbohydrate, and (good) fat at every meal, you will feel less of an urge to snack because your body is receiving the necessary nutrients and amino acids. Whole foods consumption leads to a better increase in energy and focus.

3.) Minimize snacking between meals.
Or if necessary, bring healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, or vegetables to curb your appetite until your next meal. It’s easy to peruse the nearest vending machine for a quick fix, but because of the processed nature of the foods, your hunger won’t be quelled at all.

4.) Use “half-plate rule” to determine portion size.
Debbie recommends keeping your plate half chock-full of fruits and veggies. The USDA’s new graphic that they rolled out within the last couple of years emphasizes this fact, coupled with half a plate of grains and protein. In their graphic, dairy is showcased as the beverage, but water is actually the more preferable choice.

As always, it’s important to tune into your body in regards to its needs and wants. I, by no means follow this approach to a tee, but I’m posing it simply as a healthy eating alternative. After all, we don’t know what we don’t know.

For more information about Debbie Robel, please visit her website:

To summarize:

USDA Food Plate

Or, in other words:


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