Whole Foods Lifestyle - Disappointed by What are "Whole Foods"




justhamade
11-22-2011, 01:38 AM
The thread is closed so I can reply but after reading it I was a little bit disappointed.

A whole foods diet should include a variety of foods such as fruit, vegetables, dairy products or alternatives (soy milk, almond milk), healthy fats and oils, natural sweeteners, grains, pulses, beans and seeds.

Dairy is only a whole food if raw, unpasturized,

Dairy alternatives are definitely not whole foods, to make soy or almond into 'milk' it needs to be highly processed.

Healthy fats and oils is very misleading and should be explained a bit better. Lard, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil are generally said to be 'healthy'.

Natural sweeteners like honey, aguave etc are pure fructose and not healthy.

Grains even as a whole food are high in lectins and generally very inflammatory.

Meat seems to be missing from this list as well, and although it needs to cook, it is a whole food.


kaplods
11-22-2011, 02:11 AM
While you make some good points, your definition of whole foods is not the only one. "Whole Foods" is a term that has no universally accepted definition and is still quite open to interpretation, with different individuals and different groups or "factions" arguing over which foods should and shouldn't be included under the defining umbrella of the term "whole foods."

While most agree that foods should be unprocessed, different folks define processing itself differently. Is applying heat (cooking) processing? Some argue yes, some argue no, and some argue that it depends on the temperature. Is grinding (as in making peanut butter or grinding whole grains into flour) processing? Some say yes, some say no. Is "seperating" processing (is it ok to eat egg whites without the yokes, beans removed from the pods, grains with the germ removed, juice seperated from the fruit fiber)? Again it depends on who you talk to.

The "whole food" movement suffers from the same ambiguity as does the term "low-carb," and as a result, both terms end up very much "in the eye of the beholder."

On one hand, I'd love to see the definition tightened up, and on the other hand I think quibbling over which foods are and aren't "whole" ends up obsucruing the true point... of eating less processed foods, closer to their natural state. In fact, tightening up the definition may scare newbies away from the "whole foods" concept, because they're not ready to live with the most extreme definitions of whole foods. Rather, seeing a "whole foods lifestyle" as an incremental developmental process rather than a set of requirements "set in stone," may make the most sense, because overhauling your diet often is less successful than making incremental and gradual changes. However, incremental change isn't very popular in diet and weight loss culture. The "overhaul by perfection" is the far more common model - and I think that is a very big part of why diet success rates are so poor. We don't consider incremental improvement a legitimate strategy. Only perfection counts, and if we can't be perfectly on a perfect plan, we might as well have no plan at all.

For example, many people do not consider any cooked foods to be whole foods. It's a legitimate argument, because "cooking" is a process, and one can argue that cooking is not a natural state for food (you can also argue that it is).

My point being that your definition of whole foods is not the only one, and while it's ok for you to have a different definition than other folks, and to share your opinions and defend them - making definitive declarative statements as to which foods are and aren't "whole" is premature. There just isn't enough consensus to declare other people's definitions inappropriate (you can argue that specific foods should be excluded, but not that they definitively have been).

swtbttrfly23
11-22-2011, 02:22 AM
I agree with Kaplods. I define 'whole foods' as being as close to nature as possible, with little to no additions. I prefer honey to sugar, because making sugar requires a long process of turning the cane into granules. Natural sweeteners-honey, agave, bananas-exist in nature in that state. I believe in eating a wide range of foods made or eaten as simply as can be, with nothing artificial added.

Also, I'm assuming you've never made almond milk, but it doesn't require loads of processing (not sure about soy milk). In fact, I might consider home-made almond milk to be a fairly whole food-there's still nothing artificial added and it's simple to make. All you do is soak raw almonds for a day in water, blend them in a blender with some of the water, strain the grit. Presto, delicious almond milk, nothing added, no chemical processes required.


nelie
11-22-2011, 07:19 AM
I make soy milk at home. All I use are soy beans, water and a little salt. It is minimally processed.

yoyoma
11-22-2011, 08:46 AM
Natural sweeteners-honey, agave, bananas-exist in nature in that state. I believe in eating a wide range of foods made or eaten as simply as can be, with nothing artificial added.

I am no where near perfection on a whole foods lifestyle, and I don't try to get there. I make choices on an individual basis, and sometimes I embrace a highly processed food, but in general I do take level of processing into account and overall my food choices are less processed that what most people choose.

But I honestly don't understand why people consider agave a whole food product or healthier than sugar from sugar cane. It's pretty highly processed and has a higher percentage of fructose than HFCS. It's often called nectar, and I think people might believe it's just drained straight from the flowers.

There are reasons to choose agave (and fructose in general) if blood sugar spikes are an overriding issue. But I would like to think people are making that decision from an informed viewpoint, rather than being taken in by marketers.

This from wikipedia...

To produce agave nectar from the Agave tequiliana the leaves are cut off the plant after it has aged 7 to 10 years. Then the juice is expressed from the core of the agave, called the piņa.[2] The juice is filtered, then heated to hydrolyze polysaccharides into simple sugars. The main polysaccharide is called inulin or fructosan and comprises mostly fructose units. The filtered, hydrolyzed juice is concentrated to a syrupy liquid, slightly thinner than honey, from light- to dark-amber, depending on the degree of processing.

swtbttrfly23
11-22-2011, 05:11 PM
I am no where near perfection on a whole foods lifestyle, and I don't try to get there. I make choices on an individual basis, and sometimes I embrace a highly processed food, but in general I do take level of processing into account and overall my food choices are less processed that what most people choose.

But I honestly don't understand why people consider agave a whole food product or healthier than sugar from sugar cane. It's pretty highly processed and has a higher percentage of fructose than HFCS. It's often called nectar, and I think people might believe it's just drained straight from the flowers.

There are reasons to choose agave (and fructose in general) if blood sugar spikes are an overriding issue. But I would like to think people are making that decision from an informed viewpoint, rather than being taken in by marketers.

This from wikipedia...

To produce agave nectar from the Agave tequiliana the leaves are cut off the plant after it has aged 7 to 10 years. Then the juice is expressed from the core of the agave, called the piņa.[2] The juice is filtered, then heated to hydrolyze polysaccharides into simple sugars. The main polysaccharide is called inulin or fructosan and comprises mostly fructose units. The filtered, hydrolyzed juice is concentrated to a syrupy liquid, slightly thinner than honey, from light- to dark-amber, depending on the degree of processing.

Interesting! I don't really use agave, and I was very much of the mind that it just gets drained from the plant and that's it, but I obviously haven't done my research on that one. I really only use raw honey as my sweetener, and I'll probably continue to avoid agave considering that processing!

mandalinn82
11-22-2011, 05:19 PM
There are definitely a lot of different approaches to what we call "Whole Foods" here. Mostly we'll all agree on fruits and veggies, but everyone has a personal tolerance for processing that may change from person to person (or even year to year, with an individual adjusting their definition over time).

justhamade
11-22-2011, 06:02 PM
I make soy milk at home. All I use are soy beans, water and a little salt. It is minimally processed.

Also, I'm assuming you've never made almond milk, but it doesn't require loads of processing (not sure about soy milk).

I have not made these but I do know the 'process' required to make them .... LOL


I do agree with what you all are saying and it made me re-evaluate the point I was trying to get across. I would now change it to

"Just because foods are 'whole' foods in their natural state, or close to it, does not inherently make them healthy"

Honey for example is really no different than high fructose corn syrup, its mostly fructose and some glucose. It is no healthier than cane sugar. Same with agave.

Soy is highly genetically modified and are among the richest foods in total phytoestrogens.

Wheat is also highly genetically modified and as I said before very high in lectins and gluten.

And again meat and animal protein seems to be left out, yet it is a whole food that humans have ate for millions of years, and it can be eaten uncooked as well.

Thoughts?

nelie
11-22-2011, 07:02 PM
Well I don't eat meat so I can't comment on that. The idea of whole foods is to eat minimally processed foods and foods as close to their natural state as we can. When I started eating a whole foods diet, I basically ate a lot of fruits, veggies and legumes. If I picked up a package of something such as bread and it had more than 5 ingredients in it, I put it back. I eat corn tortillas, again minimally processed.

Everyone has to work to figure out what works best for them.

yoyoma
11-23-2011, 07:11 AM
I do agree with what you all are saying and it made me re-evaluate the point I was trying to get across. I would now change it to

"Just because foods are 'whole' foods in their natural state, or close to it, does not inherently make them healthy."

Honey for example is really no different than high fructose corn syrup, its mostly fructose and some glucose. It is no healthier than cane sugar. Same with agave.


Absolutely!

However, in defense of "whole foods" lifestyle, I'd say it's a useful tool. If you make an effort to choose foods that are less processed, *in general* you will be steering your diet in the right direction. It's a rule of thumb that helps you pick a large apple instead of a 100-calorie oreo bits snack pack.

Diet approaches like whole foods, low carb, Mediterranean, paleo, etc. are good tools for people to improve their food choices without turning each choice into a detailed analysis. Unfortunately, some people do forget that it's just a tool and start to misuse it -- too many fried pork rinds on Atkins (btdt), too much "natural" sweetener in whole foods, etc.

Although "whole foods" is not the only food approach that is subject to misuse, it is true that "healthy" and "whole foods" have become almost synonymous in many people's minds and it gets more play than most other approaches. And marketers buttress that association while pushing processed products that they somehow manage to pawn off as whole foods to siphon consumer cash. For example, Whole Foods sells a lot more than fresh produce, grass-fed meats, and bulk grains -- and I do shop there sometimes; they serve a purpose, but *their* goal is to make money, not keep customers healthy.

So, I think it's useful to have a reminder that we need to use our tools responsibly. That no food choice approach is a guarantee of a healthy diet if we don't scrutinize it. But I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. Let's keep the "whole foods" approach in our tool chest.

Gogirl008
11-24-2011, 08:26 PM
Honey for example is really no different than high fructose corn syrup, its mostly fructose and some glucose. It is no healthier than cane sugar. Same with agave.

I respectfully disagree with this statement. I am a big fan of honey, although it often doesn't replace good old sugar in the same way. But I do think it's a healthier option- http://www.superfoodsrx.com/superfoods/honey/

sacha
12-05-2011, 12:54 PM
I believe if we truly want to nit pick, we must hunt with our own spears. Until then, use your judgment accordingly and read labels - decide for yourself. At the end of the day, it's your body. Peace :)

hlaoroo
12-06-2011, 02:38 AM
I essentially try to follow Michael Pollan's food rule, I don't buy anything that my great grandmother wouldn't have recognized as food. I also steer clear of anything with ingredients I can't pronounce.

MeganTheMushroom
12-13-2011, 06:56 PM
I personally use the term whole foods for any natural, unrefined food.
Any plant product, unrefined and unprocessed, is a whole food. This obviously excludes sugar, refined grains, high fructose corn syrup, etc.
Whole grains, although not a natural part of the human diet, are whole foods, I think.
Honey is a whole food. I do not eat it for ethical reasons, but I do believe it has health benefits.
I do not think meat or dairy are whole foods.. I suppose this is because I view the two as incredibly unhealthy (I realize grains are not healthy either, but they're more respectable).


I agree very much with hlaoroo, too.

jeminijad
01-04-2012, 06:21 PM
I personally use the term whole foods for any natural, unrefined food.

I do not think meat or dairy are whole foods.. I suppose this is because I view the two as incredibly unhealthy (I realize grains are not healthy either, but they're more respectable).



Whole grains require processing to make edible, and have been extensively bred into the forms we know today. Meat can be eaten raw with only teeth and hands, from an animal in any era.

how can you justify excluding meat as a whole food, whether you think it is healthy or not? It is the ultimate in natural & unrefiner, to use your words.

kaplods
01-04-2012, 09:04 PM
You can argue that grains are not whole foods, because they can't be eaten raw.

You can argue that grains are whole foods, but only if the bran layer has not been removed.

However, if taking the "skin" off something can make it a non-whole food, then it likewise can be argued that meat (the way Americans eat it) is not a whole food - because we're not eating the whole animal, far too many of us us are only eating the muscle tissue.

You can therefore argue that "meat" is not a whole food unless you're also eating the skin, blood, fat, internal organs, connective tissue, tendon, fascia, bone marrow and at least some of the bone and cartilage.

It's actually not a bad argument. There was a problem (I believe in Colorado) when during a very rough winter, well-meaning people were leaving grocery store meat in the woods for the cougars and other predators, and wild life conservation experts were seeing animals get sick because they weren't getting the nutrients from the skin, bones, internal organs, and connective tissues.

The Inuit (native Eskimo) diet is often held up as proof that humans can live quite well and healthfully on a diet of almost exclusively animal diet (although they do eat berries and other plant foods when they're available), but the traditional diet isn't wasteful. All parts of the animal are used. So the skin, fat, eyeballs, brains.... all gets eaten.


I think when trying to do a "natural" diet, you do have to at least consider what the natural proportions are. We're so removed from a natural world, it's not always easy to determine that.

Still, until only a couple generations ago, people used to say about farm animals such as pigs "everything but the oink" and for beef "everything but the moo."

We don't eat that way any more.


I think sometimes whole foods is sometimes used to argue that you can eat anything "natural" in any portion or proportion. I think we have to remember what portions and proportions would be in a "nautral" environment (it's not always easy).

Honey would be a rare treat, because it wasn't always available, and rarely in large quantities.

Sweet fruit would be rare and seasonal - and there would be a lot of competition for it, so no one would get unlimited quantities of it.

Meat would be lean during most of the year, and you'd have to eat every scrap. You'ld also have to work really hard to get it.


It's really hard to duplicate a natural diets, because we're 15,000 years removed from it. We've bred sugar into our fruits and our vegetables, and the fiber out of them. So there aren't many foods that resemble their wild counterparts.

What we feed our meat animals even makes just the muscle tissue very different from their wild counterparts.

It's no wonder that we struggle with the definitions of "whole" and "natural" (and even "paleo" - because the modern equivalents of paleo foods aren't always that equivalent).

kaplods
01-05-2012, 05:40 AM
Too many people use the phrase "whole food" to beat other people over the head with what they think is the "right" thing to eat. Something isn't whole or not whole just because someone else thinks it's good or bad.

I wanted to agree with this, before I commented on the rest of your post, because I think it's the most important.

I agree that we have to be very careful about criticising and judging other people's definitions of "whole foods," but I do think that discussing and even debating the definition is good (as long as it's not done with hostility).

I disagree though regarding the argument that healthfulness of a food, has no bearing on determining whether a food is a "whole food." I would argue that for most people, the whole food movement is about eating wholesome foods, not simply "intact" or even unprocessed foods (if unprocessed foods aren't unhealthy, then why avoid them - yes there are some other reasons such as environmental considerations - but I think for most folks healthfulness is the main point).


I think to say something isn't a "whole" food because you think it isn't healthy is a ridiculous argument.


I wouldn't say it's "ridiculous" because I would argue that the whole point of the "whole food" movement is health, and the "whole" in whole foods, is not just meant to refer to "intact" but "wholesome."

That being said, no food is healthy in a vaccuum, because no single food can provide a balanced diet (which is also vital and central to the "whole food" approach).


You might as well say you don't like lima beans, so they're not whole foods.

Food flavor preference IS a ridiculous argument for a food being declared not a whole food, but I would argue that healthfulness isn't. So, if you believe that lima beans are unhealthy or unwholesome, because the pods are being discarded, or because you don't believe that legumes are not a natural part of the human diet, those are logical arguments for a person deciding that legumes are not a whole, wholesome food. Not liking their flavor, isn't.



Whether or not it's a healthy food should have no bearing on whether something is unprocessed. Milk, for example ... squeeze a cow, you get milk. ;) Let that milk sit for a while and you get cream. No processing .. just natural. Honey ... about as unprocessed a sweetener as you can get. Whether or not it's fructose is utterly and completely irrelevant to the fact that you can eat honey straight from the comb w/out any processing. It's a whole food.

By that token you could say oranges and bananas aren't whole foods because you're not eating the peel/rind. Or if you peel an apple or a potato or a carrot, it's no longer a whole food.



Everyone has a different definition of processing, and while everyone's definition is legitimate to them, it's hard to come to a definition that everyone can agree with.

Milk and honey are good examples. We're not drinking milk from the cow or eating honey from the hive. They've both been pasteurized, which many consider processing, because important enzymes may be lost (depending on who you believe).

There are many people (personally, I'm not one of them) who do persuasively argue that peeling a potato or an apple or a carrot can destroy the integrity and nutrition of a food.

I can even see the point - because polished rice isn't considered a "whole grain" because the bran layer has been removed. Yet, polishing rice is about as low-tech a "process" as you can get. It's the equivalent of "peeling" a fruit or vegetable. So if polishing rice destroys the integrity of rice enough for it to not be considered a whole grain (because it removes the healthiest part of the grain, the fiber) then peeling an apple or potato is pretty much the same thing (because "the best part" is lost).

For the same reason, many people do not consider juices a whole food (I have to agree there, because what you're left with after juicing is the least healthy part of the fruit - essentially sugar water with a few vitamins and antioxidants).

Some people consider paleo to be closely related, if not synonymous to whole food, and so the definitions get even muddier.

I think the discussion and even the disagreement are important, but we all have to agree to play fair and realize that our definitions aren't going to be the same, and we have to respect other people's definitions (even when we think they're silly) without making fun or diminishing the differing opinions).

"I disagree because...." is part of the normal and beneficial discussion. "You don't belong here because your definition of whole is wrong," doesn't belong. But there's so much gray area in between, it's hard to come up with a definition that everyone can agree on.

I think most of us would agree that canned ravioli and cheezy poufs aren't whole foods, and that leafy greens are whole food, but there's a lot of middle ground that is harder to determine. Some people consider canned soups and frozen dinners whole foods, because most of the ingredients are recognizeable. Others only "count" food they make themselves from scratch. Others argue that non-paleo foods have been "processed" just by thousands of years of selective breeding.

There are so many definitions of "whole" and of "processing," that it can be very difficult to draw the line between reasonable and ridiculous, which makes it hard to communicate effectively.

I think we have to give everyone a wide swath of mutual tolerance. Arguing and discussing the definitions can be fun and thought-provoking, and therefore has its place, but keeping out personal attacks is more important.

skinnyscow
03-09-2012, 06:05 AM
The thread is closed so I can reply but after reading it I was a little bit disappointed.



Dairy is only a whole food if raw, unpasturized,

Dairy alternatives are definitely not whole foods, to make soy or almond into 'milk' it needs to be highly processed.

Healthy fats and oils is very misleading and should be explained a bit better. Lard, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil are generally said to be 'healthy'.

Natural sweeteners like honey, aguave etc are pure fructose and not healthy.

Grains even as a whole food are high in lectins and generally very inflammatory.

Meat seems to be missing from this list as well, and although it needs to cook, it is a whole food.
HONEY- AGUAVE-
Since when is fructose not healthy? Although I read a study on how fructose more quickly stores in cells to become fat (is this right) than glucose, it has a lower glycemic index which probably means with less insulin produced there would be less storage? That at least is the theory based on my swap of glucose or sucrose to fructose.

GRAINS-
Inflammatory is this true? This may be why I have been puffy on this diet!

MEAT-
I agree. I know a lot of whole foodists don't eat me, but I do I love lean meats despite the hormones/process/additives.

pluckypear
03-10-2012, 04:45 PM
I am trying to eat whole foods as much as possible but I am a work in process. Thus I am happy to see acceptance of variances in what is perceived as whole foods. This is a familiar argument to me as I was a vegetarian for decades and a vegan for around 6. Now a pescatarian. I used to be one of those militant types but I have matured. lol At least I like to think so. I see othe points of view as valid. :) I remember eating in a vegetarian restaurant and being criticized for eating faux shrimp because they resembled 'shrimp'. lol Now I would not eat them because they are so processed and full of crap.
I will never be a finished product. So I will learn along the way and even eat a baked chip or two. :)

giselley
03-11-2012, 10:15 AM
I've been reading the "whole foods" thread: there is a place where someone says that meat (e.g. beef, chicken, etc.,) should be considered a non-whole food because most of us eat only the muscle meat, and also that it was found that animals eating only the muscle bits suffer from deficiencies. In my reading I have come across what they call Rabbit Starvation. This is when someone eats lean meat exclusively. You will die if you eat only lean meat.

I remember a place in Farley Mowat's "Never Cry Wolf" where he tried to subsist on the same diet as wolves. of course, mice (or maybe it is lemmings) are the main diet of the arctic wolves. He caught dozens of mice, skinned them, gutted them, de-boned them and then cooked them and began to starve to death. Later, he realized that he had to eat them whole to gain the same nutritional value as the wolves.

I've taken some anthropology classes (I am sure some of you also) and there was a place where a professor said that the majority of what you might call "meat" eaten by early man was more easily caught whole animals like fingerling fishes, pollywogs, snails, grubs, insects-- not zebras, or mastodons.

The amount of energy expended to catch a giant hairy elephant is much more than to bring home a bucket of crawdads. To be sure, larger game hit the plate from time to time, but for the most part, the ancient people ate small easily caught animals.

(I might add, that you can catch too, if you can find a stream that is not polluted). But would anyone here basically "swallow a goldfish" on a regular basis as food? I mean, you can get into aqua culture and basically grow the fishies yourself, I am sure they are not too tasty-- oh, please don't give them names if you are going to eat them.

Italiannie
03-11-2012, 10:48 AM
I essentially try to follow Michael Pollan's food rule, I don't buy anything that my great grandmother wouldn't have recognized as food. I also steer clear of anything with ingredients I can't pronounce.

Bingo! I focus on "real" foods. I don't eliminate any groups, but lean away from what doesn't work well for me. The only Frankenfood I eat are those Jello 60 calorie pudding things - Who know's what they're made of. I do most of my own cooking and baking, as I like to control what is in there. My problem was never quality, but quanitity.:D

I'm also not a micro manager, as that makes me obsessive. I know what's good for me and what's not, and I think that is true for most of us here. We're a pretty well educated group.

Eat food (real), just enough, mostly plants.

loofa
03-21-2012, 11:49 AM
Meh, for me, whole foods is often "lazy foods." Steamed fresh greens, chopped veggies that don't require a recipe or much planning, special cooking technique, or whatever. Fresh cuts of meat or fish browned in some way. I can process a bunch in my kitchen--what I try to avoid is food additives: artificial flavors, flavor enhancers (as opposed to flavorful ingredients), etc. I do try to think of sugar as an additive rather than an ingredient as much as possible, but in some cases (classic scratch-baking for example) the chemistry of it relies on properties of sugar other than flavor, so sometimes I bend my rules.

I do have to say, I sympathize with the OP. I do not like the flavor of plant-milks, I think because they are made to approximate something else and taste "artificial" (i.e. not whole) to me (though made of all-real ingredients in some cases). At the same time, I think the goal is to support people on diets that work for them. There is always room for improvement on the eating front, and it is also always possible to refine our idea of what constitutes healthy or whole foods.

I hope the original poster finds support here but that certain more rigorous or pure definitions of whole foods don't discourage others from any other definition of "whole foods" that is an improvement for them. Because the whole foods sticky is placed so prominently, it might be good to add a post that states that people think of whole foods differently and that a goal of the site is for everyone to be able to gain and give support regardless of what within a wide range of reasonable definitions they consider to be whole-food eating.