Whole foods provide us with the nutrients our bodies were designed to eat
Many find that eating a whole food diet can be a great choice to pair with fasting. These are the foods our bodies were evolved to eat (unlike Twinkies and Taco Bell). They are simple, natural, and typically have minimal processing.
What is a Whole Food?
Whole foods are those foods derived from plants and animals with minimal if any processing. They do not contain any food additives, or hormones, antibiotics, sweeteners, food colors, preservatives, or flavorings that were not originally in the food.
The term “natural” is often misused and marks products that while containing perhaps fewer additives than their non-“natural” counterparts, are a far cry from an unrefined food.
Whole foods are meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, natural fats (no seed or vegetable oils), nuts, some legumes, and herbs/spices. Some may also include dairy and some whole grains too.
The best whole foods have no ingredient list at all, but some will be packaged and contain a list of just a few ingredients all of which should be recognizable.
Why is it so important to eat whole foods?
Simply put, they’re what we’re designed to consume. They are what our ancestors ate, what our bodies are adapted to consume over millions of years, and they are in many cases rich in nutrients.
For most people these foods are far less inflammatory and addictive than highly processed foods. They contribute to both our bodies and our brains performing optimally.
Processed foods are engineered around a “bliss point” to optimize for deliciousness and repeated consumption. Which, in theory sounds great. Why wouldn’t we want our food to be tastier? But these engineered foods often lack essential nutrients, dietary fiber (that is typically paired in nature with sweetness), absorbable vitamins, and have all sorts of additives that harm our bodies. Two of the worst being insulin spiking sugar and inflammation educing refined oils.
Maybe someday our processed foods will be an improvement over nature, but as they stand today in the vast majority of cases they do more damage than good.
I was shocked by how hard it was to come up with a thorough list of whole foods. Below is my best list cobbled together from several sources. Please suggest improvements in the comments section below so we can eventually have a more comprehensive and fully accurate list.
I included as many commonly consumed foods as possible, but given that there are approximately 2,000 different fruits, 1,100 different vegetables, and thousands of different types of meats, seeds, etc in the world, there was no way to make this list fully comprehensive and still useful.
Important to Remember:
The big things to remember are on the fats and oils. There are probably a few other whole food oils I did not capture, but a LOT of the oils popular in Western cooking would be disqualified from this list. Curious to learn more about why refined oils are inflammatory and often harmful, check out this summary: https://happilyunprocessed.com/the-basics/refined-oils-and-why-you-should-never-eat-them/
Here are a few other fasting resources you may enjoy:
- Dopamine as a Superpower in Your Life–This resource is wildly different than what typically appears here. This interview between Anna Lembke (MD at Stanford Medical school) and serial entrepreneur, Tom Bilyeu centers on the benefits of fasting within Lembke’s new book: Dopamine Nation – Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence.
- Some of Dr. Jason Fung and Dr. Megan Ramos’ other books: The Obesity Code, The Diabetes Code, and The Cancer Code
- The Fasting Cure – Lessons from fasting in the early 1900’s – Upton Sinclair (1878-1968), former American Pulitzer Prize winning writer, political activist, and the 1934 Democratic Party nominee for Governor of California shares his tips on fasting in his book The Fasting Cure.