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What is the Whole Food Diet?

Author: Medifast California

November 28, 2017

What is the Whole Food Diet?

Author: Medifast California

November 28, 2017

Have you heard about the Whole Food Diet? Unlike other diet fads, this one isn’t focused on helping you to lose weight or follow some trend for quick results. Instead, the whole food diet encourages people to eat whole foods, or foods that have been processed or refined as little as possible and are free from additives or other artificial substances.

What is a Whole Food?

A whole food is exactly what we’ve been eating for thousands of years, before we started mass-producing and processing our foods. For example, do chicken strips or chicken breast have more ‘whole food’ characteristics? If you answered chicken breast, you are correct. This meat has not been transformed. Chicken strips are pounded, cut and mixed with other meats to form a specific shape. They are also usually breaded and fried, taking it further from its natural state.

Minimally Processed Whole Foods

These foods have been altered slightly from their original state. However, they still contain very few ingredients or preservatives and are essential to a healthy diet.

  • Dairy and Non Dairy Products: low-fat/fat free milk and yogurts, unsweetened almond, rice, soy milk.
  • Whole Grains: choose 100% whole grain when possible, ex: whole grain bread and pastas.

Tip: Whole grain vs. whole wheat. Whole grain contains the intact grain of the bread, meaning it is less processed, higher in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Processed Foods

Processed foods are those that are drastically transformed from their original state and created into something completely different. Can processed foods be a part of a healthy diet? Of course, but it depends on what food and how it’s processed, and of course, it’s important to only eat them in moderation.

Why is it Healthy to Eat Whole Foods?

Processed foods often have extra ingredients added to them in order to make them taste better, extend the amount of time they’ll stay good on a shelf, or even to stabilize a food’s structure (think bread or cakes). These added ingredients are often a form of sugar, salt or fat. As a result, processed foods may be higher in sodium, fat, calories or sugar than most people would be aware.

Eating a diet that is high in processed foods can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease due to the health effects of these food additives. Cutting out many types of processed foods can help to cut calories, fat and sugar from the diet. The best way to do this is eat a diet that is rich in whole foods or minimally processed foods.

What foods are included in the whole food diet?

There are lots of foods that are included in a whole food diet! The table below shows the large variety of foods that someone following a whole food diet can eat. One important note: if you are looking at frozen or canned foods (like beans, vegetables or fruits), always pick the option that does not have any added salt, or sugar. Check the label and make sure to read the ingredients list if you have any concerns.

Whole Grains Canned Items Dried Fruit Condiments
100% Whole wheat flour Canned beans with no added sugar or salt Almonds Balsamic Vinegar
Amaranth Light coconut milk Pistachios Mustard
Barley Marinara sauce without added sugar or salt Walnuts Herbs
Brown Rice Tomato Paste Dried Cranberries sweetened by fruit juice Spices
Buckwheat Tuna packed in water Raisins Non-fat Greek yogurt
Bulgur Unsweetened fruit Safflower, grape seed, walnut and extra virgin olive oil
Quinoa Vegetable/Chicken stock without added sodium Unsweetened cocoa powder
Steel Cut Oatmeal
Wild Rice
Vegetables Fruits Lean Meats Beans
Artichokes Apple Fish Black beans
Asparagus Apricots Chicken (boneless and skinless) Chickpeas (Garbanzo)
Avocado Bananas Turkey Kidney
Beets Berries Bison Lentils
Peppers Cantaloupe Venison Navy
Broccoli Cherries Eggs Pinto
Brussels sprouts Grapefruits Split peas
Cabbage Grapes White beans
Carrots Kiwi
Cauliflower Lemon
Celery Lime
Cucumbers Mangoes
Garlic Nectarines
Green beans Oranges
Greens Peaches
Mushrooms Pineapple
Onions Pomegranates
Sweet potatoes Raspberries
Squash Watermelon

Go ahead and print this list out and take it with you to the grocery store. While shopping, sticking to the outside lane of the store and avoiding the inner aisles can really help you find whole foods. The shelf stable packaged products in the middle of the store tend to be the most processed.

What About Meat?

Most meat products are high in cholesterol and fat, and low in fiber and other types of nutrients. This is true whether you are eating grass-fed, organic or non-organic. Replacing meat with plant-based products whenever possible is much healthier.

However, it is still important to take in an adequate amount of protein each day, so switch to lean proteins, like turkey, chicken, fish and eggs.

Meal Ideas

Okay, now that you know what the Whole Food diet is, what whole foods are, and the foods that are included in this way of eating, you might be looking for a few meal ideas.


Skip these: Bagels, muffins, cereal, instant oatmeal
And eat these instead:

  • Omelets made from free-range eggs and whatever vegetables you like. Try spinach and mushrooms, peppers and onions, or broccoli and tomatoes for a few varieties, or go ahead and throw in your veggie leftovers from last night. You can also add a little parmesan cheese if you like.
  • Slices of avocado and tomato on whole grain toast
  • Full fat plain yogurt. You can mix in some fruit or peanut/almond butter (just make sure there isn’t any added sugar or salt)
  • Steel cut oatmeal with some diced apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon


Skip these: fast food, deli meat, white bread sandwiches
And eat these instead:

  • A big salad with a variety of vegetables and a lean protein, like grilled chicken (note: skip the processed salad dressings and stick with olive oil and balsamic vinegar)
  • Homemade soup with vegetables, home cooked chicken and low-sodium broth
  • 100% Whole wheat tortilla with hummus, cheese and veggies
  • Caprese salad with basil or pesto, tomatoes and sliced whole milk mozzarella cheese


Skip these: Fast food, anything fried, take out, frozen meals
And eat these instead:

  • A stir-fry made with fresh or frozen veggies, lean chicken, scrambled egg and some low sodium soy sauce. Serve over brown rice.
  • Quiche with a 100% whole wheat crust and whatever combination of veggies that you like
  • Grilled protein and veggies – you have lots of variety here! Try different types of grilled fish or chicken, and a big salad or your preferred grilled veggies. You can even make kabobs and throw everything on the grill at once.
  • Homemade tomato sauce over roasted spaghetti squash. You can also make pizza out of Portobello mushrooms or slices of grilled eggplant, your homemade sauce and shredded cheese.


Skip these: chips, cookies, candy, granola bars, anything in a bag or box
And try these instead:

  • Sliced veggies and hummus
  • Homemade guacamole with carrots or peppers
  • Hardboiled eggs
  • A handful of nuts and/or dried fruit
  • Celery and peanut butter (Remember this childhood classic? It’s still delicious)


Skip these: cookies, candy, processed cakes/pies
And try these instead:

  • Piece of fresh fruit
  • Fruit salad with a little lime or orange juice as dressing
  • Homemade milk shake – blend up a frozen banana, your milk of choice, a spoonful of peanut butter and a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 85% to 90% dark chocolate

Getting Started

Remember, eating whole foods is a way of eating and a way of life. This is not a quick fix diet that’ll help you drop 10 pounds before your best friends wedding next week. Over time though, you’ll probably naturally see your weight change as you start to cut out excess calories, sugar and fat.

Some people find it challenging to completely cut out their favorite foods or snacks. Instead of making the change cold-turkey, try transitioning over one meal at a time. Just focus on breakfast for a few weeks and then add in a meal or snack every couple weeks until you’re eating mostly whole foods. Your Lean&Green Meals on the Medifast plan are a great place to start!

It’s also important to remember that this is a way of life, which means that there are times where you cheat or break from your regular way of eating. Maybe you love your mom’s green bean casserole every thanksgiving. If most of what you eat is whole and unprocessed, indulging in that casserole is a treat and should be enjoyed!

Check in with your Medifast Certified Weight Loss Counselor for more ideas on how you can incorporate whole foods into your regular diet!

About the Author:

Medifast California
The team at Medifast California
The team at Medifast California is committed to practicing what they preach. Experts in nutrition, health, counseling and exercise, they have the experience and tools to offer the support you need when you need it!

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