Article contributed by Nichole Vander Meulen of the Skagit Valley Food Coop and first published in Vibrant Senior Options Resource Guide, Fall 2019
There is a lot of information swirling around out there about what’s healthy, what isn’t, and how to meet your personal nutritional needs: fad diets, more fat, less sugar, no carbs, all protein, fasting, cleanses, and the list goes on. The overload of health information is confusing, and can put you off-course on your way to feeling healthy. And the more we learn about nutrition, the more apparent it becomes that to eat (and be) healthy we need to get back to basics: what can you eat that will give you energy? What can you eat that makes you feel more alive? And what can you eat to be the best you, at any age? The answer is surprisingly simple: real, whole foods.
What the Experts are Saying
Experts in the health community believe that eating more whole foods is the best way to improve health and lower the rate of disease, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Real, whole foods are foods that are as close to their natural form as possible: think vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Whole foods are great because they retain more nutrients than processed foods and don’t include many of the added calories, fats, sugars, and mystery ingredients you can find in processed and fast foods.
Healthy Eating Choices
Whole foods are easy to spot, but when you’re feeling uncertain, just remember that you don’t always have to make the best choice, just make the better choice! For example, you can pick a chicken thigh instead of a chicken nugget, a loaded baked potato instead of potato chips, or a smoothie full of berries instead of a fruit-flavored juice. Eating healthy still needs to be flavorful and delicious.
Another great way to eat more whole foods is simply to add more plants to your plate. Note that there is no need to take out what you love. Add a fruit to your breakfast. Bring color to lunch with a leafy green and some carrots. Also add a vegetable side to your dinner. Likewise, add whatever else you want to feel energized. It’s your food, and you should enjoy it!
Finding Whole Foods
Food co-ops and farmers markets are a great place to find whole foods. Food co-ops in particular are a great resource. They have taken the guesswork out of grocery shopping by considering every product in regard to antibiotics, artificial preservatives, and GMO status. Their careful sourcing ensures that whatever you put in your basket is a good choice—raised sustainably and ethically. Sourcing also ensures that the food doesn’t contain strange, non-food ingredients.
It’s never too early—or too late—to eat for the life you want to live. Start with your next shopping trip and head home with a few more vegetables than before. Eating for vitality is simple, and the more you do it, the easier it becomes! And don’t forget to drink your water!