Switch To Whole Food Snacks and Meals and See Your Energy Soar
This season is wrapping up, the weather is starting to change, the leaves will soon turn, and the cold popsicles and summer treats will come to an end. The summer season was full of BBQs, camping trips, beach day snacks, and sugary, hot weather drinks. It’s OK to have enjoyed these summer-fun foods, but now it’s time to get back to fueling our bodies with healthy foods.
Now that we’re even busier with work, school, and prepping for the new season, choosing healthy foods can become a challenge. Keeping good clean energy on-hand can seem impossible when you’re on the go all day long. But, little changes in your diet can make big differences in how you take on the day.
Keeping tabs on which foods provide you the cleanest energy is a good place to start. In fact, we have the answer for you right here: the most nutrient-dense foods are considered whole foods.
We’re getting into how to incorporate whole foods into your daily diet. It’s not as hard or boring as you might think. There are so many colorful, nutrient-rich, mouthwatering whole foods that go great with every meal of the day.
So let’s get to it! Here’s your beginner’s guide to eating healthy this season.
What Is A Whole Foods Diet?
A whole foods diet is all about foods that are clean, providing us with nutrients and energy. But what are whole foods exactly?
Whole foods are real foods. These foods are free of preservatives, additives, sugars, and extra ingredients—they are purely their own one ingredient. Banana? Yes. Almonds? Yes. Cucumbers and hummus? Yes. How about a sugary, chocolate-coated energy bar? No.
Look at the packaging labels of the food you buy. Are all of the ingredients on the back single, whole ingredients? If not, that food is not considering a whole food choice.
Another thing to mention is the word “diet”. Diets are often restrictive and have deadlines. Restrictive eating is never good because it causes cravings for sugary, carb-loaded foods that you restrict yourself from having.
Unlike trying out a restrictive diet for a month, eating whole foods on a daily basis is not a diet at all, it’s more of a lifestyle change. We like to think of it as a gut-healthy way to get the nutrients our body’s need for energy while staying away from processed foods as often as we can. Making the choice to use whole ingredients in your dinner is a great healthy food choice. And incorporating a small yummy treat once in a while is OK too.
The Benefits of A Whole Food Diet
A whole food diet consists of foods that are eaten in their most natural forms: fruits, vegetables, and other plants. These foods have not been broken down, refined, or processed chemically into less-nutrient versions of themselves—packaged fruits and veggies, refined breads and pastries, soda, and fruit juices.
Eating whole foods will power you with nutrients that are more easily identified by your body, making nutrient absorption easier and more comfortable (say yes to better digestion!).
Better Digestion + A Healthy Gut
When choosing whole foods over processed foods, you’re choosing a healthier and more regulated digestive tract. Many whole foods contain healthy amounts of fiber, and consuming the right amount of fiber is essential for your overall gut health. The fiber in whole foods regulates the digestion process in your gut, regulates waste movement preventing infection, and slows the release of sugars and insulin from whole grains.
Regulated Blood Sugar
Whole foods that are high in fiber or that are enzymatically alive (like prebiotics and probiotics) help to regulate blood sugar. These foods are often composed of complex carbohydrates, which means it takes our bodies longer to break down the sugars ... and that's a good thing! The slow release of sugars provides a steady level of energy for our brain and body. That's why it's especially important to eat whole food snacks before workouts and while you study. Eating foods that help regulate your blood sugar ensure that your brain gets its glucose, but without going overboard.
Slowed Aging and Prevented Disease
We are what we eat, and processed foods do a poor job of building quality cells in our body. Whole foods are filled with more nutrients like vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants. Without the right amounts of antioxidants and nutrients, the free radicals in the body speed up aging and can lead to disease over time. Eating more whole foods can neutralize free radicals, which keeps you feeling and looking younger and disease-free.
What's Considered A Whole Food?
There are some common misconceptions when it comes to what it means to be eating whole foods. First, it’s often said that eating whole foods means eating bland tasting meals. Not true. There is plenty of variety when it comes to whole foods. Switch up your ingredients frequently, experiment with whole food dessert recipes, and use your favorite whole food seasonings to spice things up.
Another misconception is that eating whole foods is too expensive. This isn’t necessarily true either. Good-for-you ingredients give you more nutrients than processed foods give you. Think of it this way: if you need to get 110g of clean protein in your diet each day, you buy whole foods that correspond with that goal. You’ll be plenty full eating this protein, you won’t need to eat (or buy) other foods to keep you full (like processed ones we’re used to spending money on).
We’ve broken up a list of whole foods for you to choose from next time you go to the grocery store.
Unprocessed Fruit and Vegetables
When it comes to fruits and veggies, fresh (and preferably organic) produce is the way to go for some of the best plant-based snack ideas. Frozen products are also okay because that’s a good way to preserve unused fresh fruits and veggies.
A lot of times when you eat a whole grain, you’re consuming more nutrients, protein, and antioxidants than you would if you ate white rice (which is just the starchy part of a grain). Grains that are considered whole grains include millet, brown rice, oats, rye, teff, sorghum, spelt, whole wheat, buckwheat, quinoa, and cornmeal.
Beans and Legumes
Whole food beans and legumes contain lots of good-for-you fiber and plant-based protein. While it’s technically cheating to use canned beans, if buying this convenience item keeps you mostly on track, that’s still Rowdy. To us, staying consistent with healthy eating is the most important thing. Whole beans and legumes include black beans, pinto beans, white beans, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, and nuts and seeds.
Whole Foods of Animal Origin
While most whole food diets consist mainly of plant-based foods, there is some wiggle room for animal products. This includes eggs, small fish, seafood (including crustaceans), poultry, and red meat such as beef, lamb, pork, and veal. When thinking about animal products, you can usually go by the rule of thumb: the higher the quality, the less processed it’ll probably be.
Tips For Transitioning To A Whole Foods Diet
Switching things up from the typical way you’ve always eaten can be challenging and confusing. But grocery shopping and eating whole foods doesn’t have to be hard.
To clear things up, here are some tips for transitioning to whole foods.
Stick to the perimeter
Grocery stores are typically set up to keep the produce, meats, and dairies on the outer edges of the grocery store. If you stay out of those inner aisles, you are more likely to fill your cart with one ingredient foods.
Toss your main offenders
Doing anything cold turkey is a bad idea, so instead of eliminating all processed foods from your pantry, start by throwing away your most commonly used processed foods. Canola oil, soda or potato chips, and snacks might be a good start.
Think in nutrients
When grocery shopping, think about the nutrients contained in each food as opposed to the price. Then compare the price of the food to the nutrients to see if the food is worth it.
Give yourself some adjustment time
If you've spent most of your life eating processed foods (like many of us), whole foods can seem kind of bland at first. That's because processed foods are typically higher in sodium, seasoning, and other ingredients that overstimulate our taste buds. Give yourself some compassion as you let your taste buds adjust to whole foods. Mix half your brown rice with some white rice, for example.
Adopt a beginner's mindset
Have you ever looked at an apple and thought, "Wow, that's a dang miracle"? Well, we are inviting you to. When you look at something as if it were for the first time, it's easier to appreciate it. Learn to appreciate everything that goes into these whole foods, and how that might be different than processed foods.
Meal Prepping With Whole Foods
Learning how to eat healthy when you’re busy can be hard. You’re a busy bee and sometimes heading home late and picking up fast food on the drive or scrambling in the mornings and grabbing breakfast on the go can be a rugged rut we fall into. Figuring out meal prep ideas for school and work just doesn’t fit into the schedule last minute.
But taking the time to meal prep once a week is a great way to make sure those gut-wrenching food choices don’t become an everyday habit.
We’re giving you some yummy whole food snack ideas in our beginner’s guide to eating healthy so you can make sure you’re eating healthy when you’re busy.
Prepping Whole Food Snacks
All of these delicious whole food snacks can be prepped ahead of time so they are ready to grab and go when you’re on the move. Meal prep these whole food snack ideas and let us know which ones are your favorite.
Almond Butter Applewiches:
- 2 apples, cored and cut into ½ inch rounds
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp unprocessed, unsweetened almond butter
- 3 tsp oats
Brush sliced apples with lemon juice. Spread one side of half of the apple slices with almond butter. Then sprinkle with oats. Top with remaining apple slices. Pop them in the freezer. Then pull them out and pack them in a container to take on the go.
- 12 oz. edamame, thawed
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp lemon juice
In a bowl, toss edamame with olive oil and lemon juice. Spread on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 375°F. Sprinkle with salt to taste while still warm and serve. Or store in an airtight container and save them for this week’s snacks.
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 cup almonds
Toss almonds and coconut oil in a bowl. Spread almonds on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Place them in the oven and broil until toasty brown (watch them carefully so they don’t burn). Take them out, store them in a container, and enjoy now or later.
Prepping Whole Food Ingredients
You can even prep a few whole food ingredients and use them in different dishes and meals throughout the week. Here are some ingredients you can prep this week for 3 different lunch and dinner meals.
- Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli
- Steamed Zucchini
- Sliced Cherry Tomatoes
- Kale, Spinach
- Cooked Quinoa
- Whole Food Hummus
- Drained Chickpeas
- Cooked Chicken
- Hard-Boiled Eggs
* Extra spices: Chili powder, curry powder, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, olive oil
Chicken Kale Salad:
Combine kale, cooked chicken, sliced cherry tomatoes, drained chickpeas, quinoa, and a sliced hard-boiled egg in a salad bowl. Top with a scoop of hummus, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss and enjoy.
Italian Chicken Spinach Bake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine cooked chicken, roasted cauliflower, steam zucchini, and fresh spinach in a baking dish. Top with cooked quinoa, sliced cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and Italian seasoning. Bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle parsley on top and enjoy.
Curry Chickpea Dish:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine roasted broccoli, spinach, quinoa, chicken, zucchini, olive oil, and curry powder in a baking dish. Top with chickpeas and bake for 25 minutes. Scoop and enjoy.
Let’s Make A Pact
Life gets crazy, and switching to whole foods for every meal and snack is a tad unrealistic. We get it, we’re here to walk you through this beginner’s guide to eating healthy. You can get it right and start feeling the energy and nutrition your body is hungry for.
We’ve also committed our brand to create healthy low glycemic snacks made with whole food ingredients. Rowdy Bars are made with the base ingredients: yacon root, nuts and seeds, egg whites, and dark chocolate. We want to make it easy for you by creating foods that taste like cheating but are actually super good for you. (You’re welcome!)
In return, we ask that you keep going after those Rowdy goals ... and tossing in a few extra veggies into your lunches. Kick-off your whole food snacking today, shop Rowdy Bars!