Whole foods are more than the name of a grocery store. Whole foods are foods that are minimally processed and contain little or no additives or artificial ingredients. Think of whole foods as foods that are in their natural state. Foods considered whole foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. There is a debate whether animal products are considered whole food. If you consume animal products you should follow certain guidelines. For instance, poultry should be free-range and beef and pork grass-fed. Cage-free eggs are considered the healthiest. These animal products can be difficult to find and they usually cost more than traditionally processed products.

I know processed foods are convenient; however, for health reasons you should try to avoid or limit their consumption. The list of foods you should limit or avoid is extensive. You should avoid refined grains which include white rice, white pasta, and white bread. Avoid or limit the consumption of processed animal products which include bacon, lunch meats, and sausage. Do not consume artificial sweeteners. Packaged foods like chips, crackers, cereals bars, and frozen dinners are not considered whole foods. Fast foods should be limited or avoided. Foods with added sugars which include soda, juice, cookies, candy, and some cereals are also listed as foods to avoid or consume in moderation. Most of us consume some processed foods. When you purchase processed foods read the labels. Look for natural products. Try to purchase products without a lot of sodium, added sugars and unhealthy fats. When purchasing bread look for whole grains. Healthy grains include spelt, barley, oats and quinoa.

Consuming a diet of mostly whole foods may reduce your risk of developing heart disease, certain cancers, cognitive decline and diabetes. Whole foods usually contain more nutrients than processed foods which help with overall health. There is also a belief that eating mostly whole foods will assist with weight loss.

There are steps you can take to make eating whole foods easier. Yes, it will take time. First cook at home when you can. Cooking at home will give you more control of the ingredients in your food. Try to include fruits or vegetables with every meal. Create meal plans that include whole foods.