Q&A: What Does ‘Whole Eating’ Mean? How Can It Enliven My Body, Mind, and Spirit?

"Whole eating" means eating whole, unprocessed foods that are picked or raised from their natural habitats. Here's how to build a meal with whole foods.

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Q: What does “whole eating” or “eating whole” mean? 

A: “Whole eating” or “eating whole” means eating meals prepared with whole, unprocessed foods that are picked or raised from their natural habitats. To give you an idea, fruits and vegetables are whole, veggie chips are not; quinoa and brown rice are whole, bread is not; tomatoes are whole, jarred pasta sauces are not. That said, there are plenty of canned, jarred, and baked products on the market that are perfectly fine in moderation — think of them as taking up no more than 1/4 of the volume on your plate.

Q: How can I create a meal using mostly whole foods? 

A: Make the base of your meal with whole foods, especially plant-based ones. I treat canned and jarred items as condiments for my favorite veggies, so if I’m making a luscious veggie lasagna, I’ll flavor it with high-quality marinara sauce — or, to get closer to “whole,” I’ll use canned San Marzano tomatoes. If I’m whipping up a spicy stir-fry with whole foods like greens and brown rice, I’ll drizzle a bit of low-sodium soy or hot sauce.

Q: What are the benefits of eating more whole foods, especially vegetables?

A: You’ll be able to reduce sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats without even thinking. As long as you are mixing and matching nutrient-dense veggies like kale, spinach, carrot, sweet potato, red bell peppers and other superfoods, you’ll be tripling or quadrupling your nutrition. Vegetables are naturally low in calories, allowing space for higher-calorie whole foods like nuts, seeds, grains, and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, and grass-fed dairy.

Q: How can eating whole, natural foods enliven the body, mind and spirit?

A: From an Ayurvedic perspective, whole foods — raw or freshly cooked — have a serious life force that is transferred directly to your body when you eat them. Leftovers are considered less vital, while fast and processed foods are considered basically “dead” or void of energy. Eating fresh is a win-win, regardless of whether you’re looking at it from an Ayurvedic, Western medical, or cooking perspective. Foods retain more of their vital energy when cooked or eaten fresh; they also keep more of their vitamin and mineral content, and taste world’s above anything processed or packaged.

Jennifer Iserloh, aka the “Skinny Chef,” is a leader in promoting healthy, vibrant lifestyles though a diet of delicious and nutritious easy-to-prepare meals. A classically trained chef, certified yoga teacher, and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Iserloh is the best-selling author of 50 Shades of Kale and Healthy Cheats, among other books. 


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