What if you used food as a way to take care of yourself? To truly nourish your body, making sure that it always had the vitamins and minerals it needed. If you wanted to do this, would you eat whole foods or processed foods? Whole foods are made with minimal processing, allowing the nutritional property and use of the original food to be retained (Moubarac et al., 2012). Hundreds of years ago, whole foods were the only dietary choice people had. Nowadays, however, consumers have far more options! Grocery stores and restaurants now offer convenient, processed foods in abundance. With catchy advertising and delicious flavours, processed foods can be an enticing option. When you look closer, however, the negative implications of highly processed foods for weight gain become clear (Volkow, Wang, & Baier, 2011). If you are going to view diet as self-care, you must really understand the difference between whole and processed foods. Then you can make decisions that give you pride and positive emotions over the long term.
Selecting whole foods means creating a plate that brings you peace. It means using proper nutrients in order to feel satiated. These days it can actually be challenging to identify which foods truly are whole foods. Some examples of whole foods are fresh meats, unsalted nuts, legumes, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, and pasteurised milk (Monteiro, Levy, Claro, Castro, & Cannon, 2010; Moubarac et al., 2012). Each of these are minimally processed (Moubarac et al., 2012). Nourishing our bodies with fresh, unprocessed foods is a way of showing ourselves love. A way of feeling comfortably full, and pleased with the decisions we have made. A diet composed of processed foods, however, can come with a hefty price tag. What price have you paid physically and emotionally?
Foods earn the label of “processed” after undergoing procedures like baking, curing, smoking, frying, salting, sugaring, pickling, or canning (Monteiro, Levy, Claro, Castro, & Cannon, 2010). Processed foods often contain less than half the dietary fibre and six times the free sugar of whole foods, as well as increased sodium and fat content (Moubarac et al., 2012). Examples of processed foods include chips, bread, sausages, pizza, sweets, energy bars and soft drinks (Moubarac et al., 2012). When we eat these foods, we tend to do so in large amounts. Sometimes even to the point of discomfort and emotional costs that we carry with us afterwards like guilt and shame. Have you ever put blame on yourself for these feelings? If so, you will be relieved to know that they can actually be explained by science.
Did you know that when foods high in sugar and fat are consumed, the body creates food reward associations that promote eating even when you don’t physically require food (Volkow, Wang, & Baier, 2011)? This can lead to overeating which contributes to obesity. In this highly consumer driven market, food is created to encourage consumers to want more of it. Balancing the desire to eat with the nutritional needs of your body has never been more necessary. The most important relationship you will have in life is the one you have with yourself. Proper self-care is only enhanced when we make food choices that take our own wellness and peace of mind into account.
Eat for nourishment, not a target on the scale
In a world of constant food temptation around the clock, healthy eating can be difficult. Even though it isn’t easy, it is possible and you can do it! Healthy eating is more than numbers on a scale or calorie counting. Temptation is everywhere, but good choices live within you. Processed foods can’t really be treats, when they rob you of so much. Feeding yourself real foods, will be the best gift you give yourself!