Whole food is defined as “food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances.” It’s often easier to be plant-based, than it is to be whole food plant-based in a society that runs on processed foods. This can be a big challenge given our busy lives, need for convenience, and obsession with modifying food, whether it’s blending, dehydrating, grinding, juicing, and the list goes on and on.
An easy way to ask yourself whether or not the food you’re eating is whole, is by comparing the food to its form in nature, versus its form on your plate. This may seem limiting at first, but considering the abundance and variety of whole plant foods, boredom in our diet should be the least of our worries. So why, given this variety, is this a difficult task for many?
Processing and modifying our food concentrates flavor, and saves us the task of having to fully chew our food. In nature, the only thing we can drink is water, however today, we drink an entire plate of food in one smoothie. Sticking to whole foods means saving these things for special occasions, or as a treat, rather than a daily habit.
Eating whole foods also keeps us more in sync with our satiety and hunger cues. For example, you may not be hungry for five apples after dinner, but you can probably eat five baked apples, condensed into a slice of pie.
This doesn’t mean that we have to cut out an occasional dessert, or stop enjoying plant-based cooking. The concept of a whole foods plant-based diet simply means including as many whole foods in our diet as possible. This means eating rolled, or steel cut oats, rather than oat flour, a banana instead of banana chips, wheat berries instead of wheat flours, or peanuts in the shell rather than peanut butter. The body inherently knows which foods are closer to their original form, and therefore is better able to communicate its signals and cues. This emphasis on eating foods as close to their original state in nature as possible, is the main distinction between the term vegan, and whole food plant-based. No one term is right or wrong, and in fact, you can be both at the same time. Following a whole food plant based diet shouldn’t be seen as a label, but rather as a descriptor, continually pushing your dietary choices in the right direction.
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