Eating the Essential Eight

The fabulous four, the fearsome five, the savory seven, the daily dozen, the essential eight… is there any rhyme or reason? There was some ambivalence about whether we should include a list of foods to focus on, primarily because we don’t believe in single superfoods. Although popular in many diet programs (at least in part, due to the ability to monetize them) we feel that there is much more to health than the addition of a single food or the exclusion of another. There is no single food that will bring you everlasting health no matter how much you wish it to. What’s more important is what you do with the bulk of your overall caloric intake over the long haul.

So are all lists bad for your health or at the very least useless? Not necessarily. It really depends how you use these lists. If your belief is that you need to make a science experiment with your diet carefully picking out each “superfood” ingredient for each meal, then you’re heading down a path of unnecessary complexity, potential frustration and diminishing returns. On the other hand, if you’re using a list to help promote the consumption of general health promoting food groups, then we’re on the same page.

We do believe that if something is not part of your current routine, it may need to be integrated with some increased awareness and focused attention. That’s where our essential eight come in. We have focused on food groups that are often overlooked yet should be included as a part of every Whole Foodie’s diet.

The key here is to become aware of the foods that fall into each of these groups and think about how to include them in as many meals as possible. Start with foods that are familiar to you and over time expand your repertoire.

essential  sandwiches

Our Essential Eight:

  • Whole grains and starchy vegetables
    • Examples: brown rice, oats, quinoa, corn, potatoes
  • Beans and other legumes

    • Examples: garbanzo beans, pinto beans, lentils, peas
  • Berries

    • Examples: blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries
  • Other fruits

    • Examples: apples, pears, bananas, melons
  • Cruciferous vegetables

    • Examples: broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
  • Leafy greens

    • Examples: spinach, chard, kale, romaine
  • Non-starchy vegetables

    • Examples: mushrooms, onions, peppers
  • Nuts and seeds

    • Examples: pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts

In The Whole Foods Diet we get into more detail about each of these food groups and why we chose them, but the bottom line is that they are all important and have been part of healthy diets for centuries. Do you need to eat all of these food groups at every meal or even every day? No. Don’t make this way of eating more complicated than it needs to be. But, over the course of your days and weeks, do make sure you are taking advantage of all that these health promoting and delicious food groups have to offer.

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