How we feed ourselves has changed significantly over the last 50 years or so. In just two generations, the food we eat has largely shifted from a focus on pure, natural food, grown in backyards and local farms, to a reliance on nutrient-deficient, processed food products that feed many, cheaply. We are a generation that is undernourished and overfed.

People choose to adopt a plant-based diet for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the more common ones.

  1. Personal health and public health
  2. Concern for the environment and recognition of the negative effects of the chemicals and by-products of large-scale meat production.
  3. Ethical, religious and spiritual considerations that touch on how we co-exist and interact with animals.

KIMBELRY’S KULA KITCHEN recognizes and honors the spectrum of factors that contribute to why people choose a plant-based lifestyle. Throughout THE WELLNESS PLAN we will reference many links and research papers that can help you learn more.

Current research in plant-based health shows that including more plants in the diet can help combat chronic and preventable diseases including Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

As you progress through this unit and the rest of the course, you will begin to see this correlation for yourself. By learning to cook plant-based foods, you can be part of the solution.

Many people think about health in terms of calories and opt for foods that are “lite,” low-calorie or low-fat. However, calorie content isn’t always the best indicator of healthful foods. For example, refined and processed foods are often advertised as low-calorie, but this is because they contain so few nutrients. Nutritionists often call these products “empty foods.” It’s like fueling a sports car with the lowest-grade fuel and wondering why it can’t achieve winning speeds.

Whole Foods

The definition of a whole food often depends on who you ask. At KIMBERLY’S KULA KITCHEN, we consider whole foods to be unrefined foods that don’t contain any additives or preservatives. These foods are as close to their original state as possible. Simple examples include fruits and vegetables, like whole apples and carrots. Whole grains, nuts and seeds are also whole foods because they still contain their heartier, nutrient-dense components.

A good rule of thumb is to question whether anything has been added to a product to extend its shelf life or make it last longer. Watch for things like whether the ingredient list includes any chemical additives, preservatives or multi-syllable ingredients that are hard to pronounce. If it does then it’s likely not a whole food.

  • 100 Calories = 100 Calories?

One of the biggest misconceptions in health and wellness. Calories are not equal. Read on.

Nutrient-Dense Foods

The idea of nutrient density goes beyond calories and focuses on quality over quantity. Foods that are nutrient-dense contain nutrients that allow your body to create long-lasting energy and optimal health. Eating nutrient-dense foods is like fueling a sports car with the best gasoline available.

Nutrient dense foods are whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Colorful vegetables like kale, spinach, beets and broccoli
  • Eating refined and processed foods on a daily basis can result in nutritional imbalances and deficiencies. Diets high in refined and processed foods have been associated with extra fat storage, difficulty regulating blood sugar levels, reduced immunity, and chronic ailments such as cancer, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Foods that contain complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables
  • Foods that contain protein like beans and lentils
  • Foods that contain healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts and seeds

In addition, local, organic and seasonal vegetables tend to be fresher and are closer to being ripe when they are picked. This makes them more nutrient-dense than those that have been transported from far away or that have been grown out of season.

  • Tip

In addition to focusing on nutrient-dense foods, managing portion sizes are an important way of keeping or achieving a healthy weight.

Question?

Which is the better option: a 100-calorie pack of baked chips or a 100-calorie pack of raw almonds?

ALMONDS: Are loaded with vitamin E, protein, biotin, fiber. They lower blood pressure, choleseterol, and also promote weight loss.