Hayley Stobbs R.Ac, CNC
Whole foods are a foundation for good health; real food in their earth-made. unrefined forms. Real food provides energy, maintains health, prevents illness, heals, and slows the aging process through macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, and fat), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and enzymes), along with antioxidants (phytochemicals). Whole food animal sources, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits provide nutrient density and potent phytochemicals that work with every layer of our well-being. Don't know where to start? Craving a real food reset? Here are some basic whole foods guidelines.
"Let nothing which can be treated by diet and lifestyle be treated by other means." – Maimonides
Sourcing Quality Meat & Poultry
Source out sustainable grass-fed (pastured) proteins and fats. Happy and healthy animals have access to roam and eat nutritious grasses, insects, worms, and fruits and vegetables of which they thrive upon. Many people with grain, soy, or corn sensitivities find their intolerances disappear when they consume foods that are grass-fed. Additionally, pasture raised (grass-fed) animals contain less inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids and more health beneficial omega 3 fatty acids, CLA, vitamin A, and overall increased nutrients. They also taste better! Join a local food co-operative or talk to your farmer and butcher to learn more.
Fish & Seafood
Fish and seafood are excellent sources of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids in the form of brain-supportive DHA and EPA. Aim to consume 2 – 3 servings per week.
Generally, higher levels of mercury, and the accumulation of pollutants and chemicals are most likely to be present in the muscles of large, long-lived predatory fish such as: shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, Atlantic salmon, Chilean sea bass, and white (albacore) tuna) and tuna steaks, frozen tuna, marlin, orange roughy, escolar.
It's important to be mindful of the number of concerns caused by poor management and impacts on marine life, as well as endangered or critically low populations. Download the infographic at ewg.org to learn more about fish and seafood that are well managed, abundant, and caught or farmed in environmentally sustainable ways.
Best: wild fish
Better: wild caught
Good: humanely harvested, non-grain-fed
Baseline: farm-rasied – not recommended
Buy local and seasonal foods
In Chinese medicine there is an emphasis on diet and lifestyle rhythms that facilitate our body-mind-spirit to transform and flourish with the changing seasons of life, such as spending time in nature and eating local, seasonal foods.
Throughout history people ate and happily digested local foods that were in season as this is how our physiological systems were designed to thrive. The consumption of external and inherent qualities in seasonal foods nurtures the body with what it needs for changes in temperature and activity. Conversely, with the proliferation of food transportation we are able to have whatever foods we want at any time of the year. Too many kinds of foods that aren't in tune to our external and internal climate can dampen the digestive system. For example, bananas from the tropics (cooling) eaten in the winter (cool, damp - in Victoria, BC ;). Rather, to nourish and attune the body with winter in BC most people need warming, drying foods, for example winter squash with ginger and cinnamon, and beef stew with cabbage.
In summary, visit your farmer’s market so that you may choose seasonal, local, fresh foods that are supportive of your health and community. Foods that are bought at your local farmer’s market have travelled a short farm to market distance in comparison to produce found at supermarkets -- thus, local produce tends to be fresher, more nutrient dense, and contain strong lifeforce.
Choose Organic Items When Possible
Organic foods are higher in lifeforce, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and are free of pesticides, growth hormones, irradiation, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Alteration of foods grown with chemicals such as pesticides contain 'xenoestrogens', which mimic estrogen and disrupt hormone balance in the body.
Pesticides and other toxins accumulate in fat tissue; therefore make it a priority to buy organic high fat foods (oils, nuts, seeds, and fatty cuts of meat) for hormone balancing and prevention. Visit ewg.org for a list of the clean fifteen (low pesticide) and dirty dozen (high pesticide) produce items.
Farms that grow or raise 100% organic foods must follow high ethical and sustainability standards set by regulatory associations according to region. Vote with your fork --- buy organic whenever you can and when your budget doesn’t permit choose organic produce items within the ‘dirty dozen’ high pesticide residue list.
Tips for buying oils
Remove refined pro-inflammatory oils from your diet, such as sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, safflower seed oil, and canola oil. Focus on organic expeller cold pressed extra virgin olive oil as this is a great heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Keep in mind that the FDA does not regulate oils -- oftentimes conventional non-organic oils, along with seed oils (canola, grapeseed, safflower, sunflower), are bleached, chemically extracted with solvents, deodorized, and mixed to increase company profit, for example mixing olive oil with canola and peanut oil. A good quality and economical organic extra virgin olive oil brand is Terra Delyssa.
Best: organic, cold-pressed, and/or from well-raised animal sources
Better: organic, cold pressed
Nuts & seeds
Nuts and seeds are prone to rancidity because the delicate nature of their polyunsaturated (PUFA) content. Purchase raw nuts and seeds that have a high turnover rate and store them in your refrigerator to keep them fresh. As a general guideline enjoy a variety in moderation alongside a nutrient dense diet – for example a handful of raw nuts or half a handful of seeds per day. If you’re including nut/seed butter or flour products, consume them only as a treat since they contain concentrated amounts of these foods.
Best: local, organic, kept refrigerated
Better: local, organic
Eat the rainbow
Vary your breakfast, lunch, and dinner choices and include at least 2 different types of vegetables at each meal. Diversity will ensure that you’re getting an array of nutrients and fiber, will increase enjoyment, and will prevent further development of food intolerances.
*The following quantities should be weighed in raw amount. Vegetables can then be cooked and prepared as desired. The guideline below is derived from Dr. Terry Wahls book, The Wahls Protocol.
Everyday aim to eat:
o 2 cups of leafy green vegetables: spinach, kale Ø Excellent sources of vitamins A, B, C and K
o 2 cups of sulfur-rich vegetables: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, mushrooms and asparagus, etc. Ø Supports detoxification pathways
o 2 cups of colorful vegetables and fruits (ideally three different colors each day) Ø High in cancer-protective antioxidants. Ø They have to be colored all the way through, so apples and bananas don’t count as colored, but berries, peaches, citrus, beets and carrots do.
Best: local, organic, and seasonal
Better: local and organic
Good: organic or local, clean 15.
*Visit www.ewg.org for the clean fifteen and dirty dozen guide to pesticides.
Prepare your foods in different ways
Be mindful to rotate your cooking and preparation methods, for example, raw, steamed, pan-fried, baked or roasted, pressure cooked, pureed, grated, julienne, chopped, etc. Keep in mind that raw, steamed, pressure-cooked, and low-heat cooked vegetables retain the most nutrients.
Many cooked foods are easier to digest because the cooking process pre-digests the food as it breaks down fiber. A lot of foods actually increase in minerals after being cooked! Cruciferous and sulfur rich vegetables can be steamed to decrease goitrogen impact on the thyroid.
“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” - Unknown
Easy Nutrient Savy Swaps
White/brown sugar, artificial sugars such as aspartame, sucralose, and Splenda ------>
Raw (unpasteurized) honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, dates, green leaf stevia, monk fruit extract.
*Sweeteners are empty calories, meaning they contain very little nourishment.
Refined salt -----> Himalayan sea salt, celtic sea salt, Herbamere.
Store-bought sauces & dressings -----> coconut aminos or GF tamari (soy sauce alternative), home-made teriyaki (tamari, maple syrup, ginger, garlic), Primal Kitchen or RawFoodz Dressings, pesto, hummus, olive oil & balsamic vinegar, lemon & lime wedges, herbs, garlic & ginger, curry powder & coconut milk, tomato sauce (purchase in glass jar).
White or whole wheat flour ----> Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour blends, almond flour, buckwheat flour, coconut flour
Soda pop -----> Mineral water & fresh lemon/lime or fruit, kombucha or jun, maple water soda
Comfort snacks: chips, ice cream, and milk chocolate ----->, toasted nori strips, crispy snap peas, raw unsalted nuts and seeds, veggies & hummus or RawFoodz dressing, apples & almond butter, date & pumpkin seed butter, dark chocolate 75 – 90%, air popped popcorn drizzled with coconut oil or olive oil (add herbs for flavor), home-made banana or berry ice-cream, Miss Cold Comfort Coconut ice cream.
Soak grains, beans, nuts, and seeds
Specific protective compounds found in plant seed coats can irritate the gastrointestinal lining and one’s ability to absorb nutrients such as minerals and amino acids. Phytic acid, lectins, saponins, and enzyme inhibitors are most prevalent in seeds (including seed spices), nuts, legumes, and grains.
Nuts and seeds: Cover with water and a pinch of sea salt. Soak for 2 – 6 hours, drain and rinse, and then keep refrigerated for a maximum of 5 days.
Grains and beans: Cover with triple the volume of water and add 2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice. Soak for 8 hours or overnight, drain and rinse, and cook until done.
Herbs & spices
When cooking with herbs and spices add dried during the cooking process and fresh during serving. Purchase organic herbs and spices when possible and store them in a cool, dry place for no longer than 3 months to ensure adequate nutrient density. Non-organic herbs and spices are often irradiated and contain mold and pesticides.
· Prepare protein recipes 2 – 3 times per week to ease the process of meal preparation throughout the week. Portion and keep in your refrigerator or freezer in various sized glass containers or glass mason jars.
· Roast a large pan of veggies to have for future meals.
· Prepare a couple of sauces, dips, or dressings.
· Pre-chop raw veggies for snacking.
· Store food in glass containers to avoid leaching of chemicals.
· Avoid keeping leftovers for more than 2 days to keep food fresh and to prevent from nutritional deterioration and mold growth. Do not use leftover tea for more than a day.
· Add variety to your meals -- aim to try 1 – 2 new recipes per week.
· Get your family to join in!
Purchase an activated carbon and ion exchange water filtration system such as Mavea to remove organic and inorganic contaminants, asbestos, chlorine, nitrates, sulfates, minerals, cadmium, barium, lead, and some forms of radium. Clean and replace the jug’s filter according to manufacturer instructions. The best water purification system comes from berkeyfilters.com. This unique filtration system removes viruses, pathogenic bacteria, micro-organisms, parasites, heavy metal ions (13), chemicals (including pharmaceuticals, trihalomethanes), volatile organic compounds (41 +), inorganic minerals (chlorine), fluoride, sediments, and more. Visit their website to learn more. Local options include Mount Doug Springs Water and Duncan Artesian Springs.
Swap Teflon and aluminum pots and pans for safe cooking materials such as stainless steel, ceramic, glass, and true cast iron to avoid the ingestion of harmful chemicals.
Please visit 'Mindful Eating for Well-Being' to optimize nutrition potential.
Slowing down and becoming increasingly acquainted with nature, your energy body, your mind, spirit, and soul, you will intuitively feel what foods are right for you. I am a true believer in that what works for one does not work for another, “what is food for one man may be bitter poison for others,” and that becoming more in touch with yourself will guide which foods you thrive upon.
"He that takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the time of his doctor."
~ Ancient Chinese Proverb
If you’re interested in diet therapy as complimented by acupuncture I’d be happy to guide you along. Please visit www.vcaspa.com to book online or call 250-590-4341. To learn more about my acupuncture practice, follow @hayley_stobbs on Instagram.
In health & happiness,
Hayley Stobbs R.Ac, CNC
Segersten, Alissa, and Malterre, Tom. The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook: Whole Foods Recipes for Personal and Planetary Health. Bellingham, WA: Whole Life Press, 2008.