Week 26 Challenge: Whole Foods Only
Welcome to this weeks challenge. By whole foods, we are not referring to the grocery store, but to your food choices this week. We have been living by the whole foods, plant based lifestyle for the past 4 years and our health has never been better! This is what started Pilot Fitness and what our recommendations are base upon. From ultra trail runs and Ironman’s to big wall climbs in Yosemite, we have put this to the test while living out of a suitcase flying for the airlines. So it’s time to take the training wheels off and see what it can do for you!
Drop your blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation in your body to promote your cardiovascular health. Increase antioxidants and drop your body’s inflammation to promote an alkaline, cancer fighting machine to combat the radiation exposure flight crews are bombarded with. Reduce your risk factors for Type II Diabetes. Perform in your physical activities with more energy with less joint stress, recover faster and have more fun doing the things you love. Basically, fuel your body with nothing but the high octane fuel it deserves!
Oh, and the best part, loose weight naturally and maintain your natural body size. No counting calories, no gimmicks. By eating whole foods, you will fill up on the fiber and “mass” of the food before you ever consume an excess of calories.
Where do you start? Shop only in the fresh produce and bulk food sections . Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains. Try and limit the food products purchased with a UPC label.
What about packaged foods? Become a pro at reading the ingredient labels. Only purchase packaged foods with ingredients you can pronounce. As to any rule, there a few exceptions and this is where your smart phone will help you. Search the ingredients and become familiar with what is in your food as preservatives, thickening agents, animal products in disguise, etc.
So what does “Whole Foods” mean? I like to define whole foods as any food item that is still intact of all of its original attributes; a food item that has not been stripped of any properties or refined in any way.
For example, almond butter is made from almonds. The physical state has changed into a paste, however the almonds have not been refined or stripped of anything that was in the almonds in their original state. Homemade almond milk becomes a slightly grey area in that part of the almond pulp (fiber) has been removed to leave water that has been soaked in almonds. The end product is not something that is rich in refined sugar nor would it negatively affect your health in the sense of spiking insulin levels, etc. And compared to alternative of dairy, almond milk serves a much healthier alternative. So I give it the green light!
Remember that there are no hard and fast rules to this or measure of success or failure. Everyone’s interpretation will be different as to what is tolerable or not to suit your lifestyle. These are just my recommendations that I personally use to eat as healthy as possible while keeping it simple. Just be honest with yourself. You know when you are making a rare exception compared to selling yourself short. Don’t cheat yourself.
There are times that traveling on the road just won’t permit you to fully adhere to a perfectly maintained whole foods diet. For instance I find myself bringing Vega Protein Bars and Protein Recovery Powder on my trips to aid in recovery during my training. Clearly these products are not whole foods, but still plant based and the next best thing. When I am home I have the luxury of eating real food. These are not for daily sustenance. It’s all a balancing act to give my body what it needs to recover and maintain a high level of athletic performance while still protecting my body from chronic disease and allowing me to feel my best.
Your stomach may take a few days up to a few weeks to adjust to the increase in plants, namely fiber. Try to plan your meals around breaks to take advantage of restroom facilities. Drink lots of water to help with the increase in fiber intake to keep things moving along in y0ur digestive tract. If you have been consuming a Standard American Diet (SAD), especially one high in dairy and cheese, these effects will be amplified. (an indirect way of saying a lot of going #2!)
As with anything, there will be some changes, but it doesn’t mean that you need to really give anything up. Just find different products.
Breads: One of the toughest ones. I try to avoid it all together. Every once in awhile, I purchase a whole grain bread, preferably sprouted grains. My favorite brand is Ezekial; sprouted whole grains, organic, plant based.
Dairy: This one is easy with lots of options. From plant based yogurts to plant based milks made from almonds and soy to rice and hemp. Just look at the ingredients for added refined sugars.
Eggs: For scrambled eggs, just substituted firm tofu. For baking, substitute with ground flax seeds/flax meal. Use around 2 tablespoons of flax meal mixed with 2 tablespoons of warm water. Bananas, applesauce, and silken tofu make great substitutes as well depending what the recipe is.
Cheese: A tough one to replace. We recommend making cheese substitutes from nuts or tofu.
Entire books have been written on this and more. Take a look through our amazon store for more recommendations and use our recipes for inspiration.
Reach out to us by contacting us directly through our contact page. Additionally, stop by our new community forum and interact with an online community for inspiration from your coworkers. Post questions and engage the traveling community.
Although this is a week long challenge, we hope this will inspire a new way of living and form long term, permanent habits and choices. If this is something that you are serious in committing to, see your health care professional and discus your plans and have your blood labs taken. This will provide your base line/starting point. Then return for a follow up lab test 6 months later and prepare to be amazed of the progress happening on the inside of your body!