Whole Foods

Prior to the modernisation of food processing, there was no need for a special whole food eating plan. Foods that are organic, fresh and unprocessed contain the nutrients needed to digest and absorb that food in a balanced form.

With the advent of methods of processing, ways of transporting food long distances, chemical fertilisers, and the predominance of convenience foods, our food lost a lot of its nutritional value. It became contaminated with substances that our bodies couldn’t cope with. The nutrients needed to digest the foods weren’t present and had to be robbed from our bodies’ stores. The result was a massive decline in health.

In the 1920’s & 30’s a dental surgeon called Weston Price traveled the world studying the teeth of “primitive” populations in many different areas. What he found was very disturbing. Those who followed their traditional (whole food) eating patterns, had excellent teeth and excellent general health. Those who changed to a “western” diet of processed foods developed marked dental deformities within two generations. Their general health also deteriorated and chronic illnesses started to become more prevalent. His book Nutrition & Physical Degeneration records his findings.

Since the 1930’s, the quality of our food has deteriorated even further. It is no wonder that diseases like cancer, arthritis, heart disease, asthma, back pain, & chronic fatigue (to mention just a few) now have such a high incidence. To turn around this tide of ill-health  would require a massive effort, both at a personal and global level. The powers-that-be are not going to do anything to help you, so you need to do it yourself.

The problem is, refined foods are so abundant that it takes some effort to find and prepare whole foods. Nearly everything in a packet or can contains some refined carbs or dangerously processed fats. The last few years have seen a resurgence of people who are concerned enough about their health to make the effort required to find fresh, organic meat and produce. Just take a walk through Commonsense Organics in Wellington any time of the day to see what I mean. The time to join them is now.

If you’re still not convinced it’s necessary,  you’ve probably heard of Leslie Kenton – a well known advocate of natural foods, especially raw. For her views on why we need to eat fresh, unprocessed foods, see my notes from a talk she gave in Wellington in  the mid 90’s.

If your health is very poor, you may then need to go one step further and do an elimination diet to identify food allergies. Or you may need to eat according to your correct metabolic type. But for now, let’s start with the basics – a diet that is predominantly based on whole, natural foods. How do you go about cooking whole foods? Where do you go to find helpful information? Thankfully, there are resources out there.

A wonderful book to help you learn how to cook natural foods is “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. This is a book which explains why much of the current dietary information is wrong. You may be surprised by some of it. For example, saturated fats are not the health risk, processed vegetable fats are. And that 6-8 servings of grains & cereals the food pyramid recommends? Make sure they are whole grains, cooked correctly – processed cereals are bad for you. It could be considered a companion work to “Nutrition & Physical Degeneration” – one that explains how to go about preparing food in the traditional ways. It contains background information on whole food nutrition, explains how to prepare food to make them more digestible, has a host of interesting recipes, and contains lots of additional nutritional information. If you can only afford one book on nutrition, this is the one I would recommend.

The Weston A Price Foundation website at www.westonaprice.org has useful guidelines and articles, including some by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Check out their guide to healthy foods. Also of interest is this article on natural diets for your pets.

Dr Mercola also has a comprehensive eating plan based on whole and raw foods. Check it out here.

Not everybody has the same guidelines, so I have combined some of them here. Don’t be daunted by this list. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. But the more you can incorporate good choices into your diet, the better results you will get. To help you find the good stuff, WAPF members around the world have been preparing shopping guides to help you.

Download a printable version of the whole foods chart in Rich Text format

choices – Nourishing, traditionally prepared foods :
(eat in moderation, if you are healthy) : 
choices – Modern, processed foods :
  • Organic, naturally-raised
    red meats (ie free range and grass fed) including beef,
    lamb, game. 
  • Organic, free range poultry.
  • NB : Eat the fat and skin
    attached to meat & poultry, as they contain important
    fat-soluble vitamins and various beneficial fatty acids.  
  • Organ meats like liver,
    heart and sweetbreads, from organic, grass fed animals.
    1-2 times a week
  • Non-organic, but still grass
    fed, meats
  • Non-organic, free range
  • Barbecued or smoked meats
  • Traditionally made, additive
    free sausages & bacon
  • Organ meats like liver,
    heart or sweetbreads, from non-organic, non grass-fed
    animals (marinate in lemon juice for at least 2 hours
  • Grain fed meats
  • Factory-farmed poultry
  • Highly processed luncheon
    meats and sausage containing MSG and other additives.
  • Canned meats 
  • Fish & seafood from
    fresh waters. 
  • Note that fish
    higher in the food chain, like tuna, generally have more
    mercury than those lower in the food chain, like sardines.
  • Canned fish, preferably
    in water, unsalted. Limit to 1-2 x a week, due to the
    dangers of mercury toxicity. Do not eat tuna of any kind
    more than once a week.
  • Fish from “fish farms”
    as they are fed soy meal
  • Free range eggs.
  • Whole, naturally-produced
    milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or
    fermented, such as whole yoghurt, cultured butter, whole
    cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
  • Battery-produced eggs. 
  • Pasteurised, full fat dairy
    products that have not been homogenised (excluding milk,
    which should be either raw or fermented)
  • Microfiltered, cold processed,
    unsweetened whey protein,
    in moderation
  • “Vegetarian” eggs
  • Imitation egg products like
  • Pasteurised and homogenised
    milk; lowfat or skim milk or dairy products (always buy
    full-fat dairy products), powdered milk or imitation milk
    products. .
  • “Ultra Pasteurised” dairy
  • Products containing protein
  • Fermented soy
    products like tempeh, tamari, natto and miso in small
  • Tofu
  • Unfermented soy products
    such as soy milk, soy protein powder drink mixes, soy
    protein isolate, textured vegetable protein (a fancy name
    for soy protein isolate), imitation soy “foods” like soy
  • Organic, fresh fruits and
    vegetables, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.
  • Sea vegetables from clean
  • Non-organic, fresh fruits
    and vegetables, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.
  • Imported fruits & vegetables
  • Canned tomato products,
    preferably with no added salt
  • Frozen berries
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Canned, sprayed, waxed,
    bioengineered or irradiated fruits and vegetables.
  • Large amounts of fruit.
    ie. more than three whole pieces a day.
  • Freshly made beans and lentils,
    that have been properly
    prepared, in moderation. 
  • Tinned beans and legumes,
    in an “emergency”
  • Whole grains (in moderation)
    that have been prepared by soaking,
    sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid
    and other anti-nutrients.
  • Sprouted grain breads; sourdough
    breads in moderation (sourdough white bread is unacceptable).

  • Whole grain breads which
    have not been naturally leavened (check the ingredients
    and avoid if they include soy, vegetable oils or sweeteners)
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Unbleached white flour
  • Rancid and improperly prepared
    seeds, nuts and grains found in granolas, quick rise breads
    and extruded breakfast cereals, as they block mineral
    absorption and cause intestinal distress.
  • White flour, white flour
    products and white rice or foods containing them – including
    pasta and noodles.
  • Boxed cereals, including
  • Nuts & seeds that have
    been prepared by soaking
    & drying, or sprouting, to neutralize anti-nutrients.
  • Nut butters made from properly
    prepared nuts
  • Plain, natural peanut butter.
  • Fresh coconut
  • Dry-roasted peanuts, preferably
    with no salt
  • Nut butters made from raw
  • Canned coconut milk, if
    not homogenised
  • Commercially roasted nuts
    and/or seeds. 
& oils
only traditional fats and oils including:

  • Organic butter or ghee 
  • Other animal fats 
  • The tropical oils – coconut
    and palm
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Expeller expressed sesame
    and flax oil (do not heat flax oil)
  • Non-organic butter or animal
  • All hydrogenated or partially
    hydrogenated fats and oils (eg margarine, shortening)
    or foods containing them
  • All vegetable oils made
    from soy, corn, safflower, canola or cottonseed.
  • Deep-fried foods – they
    are usually made with heated vegetable oils or hydrogenated
& dressings
  • Use unrefined Celtic seasalt
    and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and
    appetite stimulation.
  • Try to have some fermented
    food/drink with every meal -such as tamari, tempeh, natto,
    sauerkraut, kim chee (without MSG), kombucha
    tea, raw vinegar, fermented vegetables, fruit chutneys
    full-fat plain yoghurt or kefir,
    or lacto-fermented beverages.
  • Prepare homemade meat stocks
    from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use
    liberally in soups and sauces.
  • Make your own salad dressing
    using raw egg yolks, cream, raw vinegar, extra virgin
    olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil.
  • Commercial (refined, iodised)
  • Pasteurised vinegar
  • Canned condiments (check
    for bad fats and sweeteners, though)
  • Artificial food additives,
    especially MSG, hydrolysed vegetable protein and aspartame,
    which are neurotoxins. Most soups, sauce and broth mixes
    and commercial condiments contain MSG, even if not so
  • MSG, foods with artificial
    flavourings or colourings.
  • Avoid foods made with any
    type of vegetable oil – this includes virtually all bottled
    salad dressings & mayos.
  • Homemade desserts,
    made from whole foods and sweetened with stevia
  • Natural sweeteners
    in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, blackstrap
    molasses, and dehydrated cane sugar juice
  • Small amounts of dried fruit
  • Healthier desserts occasionally
    like pumpkin pie and coconut macaroons, preferably homemade
  • Ice cream that is made with
    full fat dairy, egg yolks and minimal amounts of natural
  • If you absolutely must have
    SMALL amounts of chocolate, as an OCCASIONAL treat, a
    good quality Belgian chocolate (eg Cavalier) is probably
    the best. Look for high %s of cocoa butter, full fat or
    no dairy, and sweetened with evaporated cane sugar or
  • All refined sweeteners such
    as w
    hite sugar, brown
    sugar, dextrose, glucose, pasteurised honey, fruit juice
    and high fructose corn syrup.
  • Artificial sweeteners like
    aspartame and saccharin, or any foods/drinks containing
  • Most chocolate
  • Filtered water (for cooking
    and drinking)
  • Lacto-fermented beverages
  • Meat stocks
  • Vegetable broths
  • Unpasteurised wine or beer
    in strict moderation with meals.
  • Diluted fruit juice
  • Herb teas and coffee substitutes
    in moderation
  • Fluoridated water.
  • Fruit juice. As it is a
    concentrated sugar source, it should only be drunk diluted.
  • Soft drinks. 
  • Caffeine-containing beverages
    such as coffee, tea and cocoa
  • Pasteurised alcohol
  • Distilled liquors
  • Choose the foods above that
    are appropriate for your metabolic
  • Eat fresh whole, natural
  • Eat only foods that will
    spoil, but eat them before they do.
  • Eat “superfoods” like cod
    liver oil, Brewer’s yeast, spirulina, bee pollen, raw
    wheat germ, and kelp.
  • Use only natural supplements
    such as “Food complexed” vitamins and minerals.
  • Cook only in stainless steel,
    cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
  • Get plenty of sleep, exercise
    and natural light.
  • Practice forgiveness
  • Avoid foods that you are
    allergic, intolerant or addicted to, even if they would
    otherwise be a good choice
  • Do not practice strict vegetarianism
    (veganism); animal products provide vital nutrients not
    found in plant foods.
  • Don’t eat commercially processed
    foods such as cookies, cakes, crackers, TV dinners, soft
    drinks, packaged sauce mixes, etc.
  • Avoid “fat-free” foods of
    any type. This includes imitation eggs.
  • Avoid aluminium-containing
    foods such as commercial salt, baking powder and antacids.
    Do not use aluminium cookware or aluminium-containing
  • Avoid synthetic vitamin
    and mineral supplements (unless your health requires them),
    and foods containing them.
  • Do not use a microwave


  • Avoid foods that you are allergic, intolerant or addicted to, even if they would otherwise be a good choice
  • Do not practice strict vegetarianism (veganism); animal products provide vital nutrients not found in plant foods.
  • Don’t eat commercially processed foods such as cookies, cakes, crackers, TV dinners, soft drinks, packaged sauce mixes, etc.
  • Avoid “fat-free” foods of any type. This includes imitation eggs.
  • Avoid aluminium-containing foods such as commercial salt, baking powder and antacids. Do not use aluminium cookware or aluminium-containing deodorants.
  • Avoid synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements (unless your health requires them), and foods containing them.
  • Do not use a microwave oven.


Also helpful for some people is “The Healing Power of Whole Foods” by Beth Loiselle. This is specifically (and in my opinion, only) for somebody who wants to break a sugar addiction, which requires total compliance for at least 3 months. It tells you why and how whole foods will improve your health, detailed descriptions on what you can and can’t eat, and a huge range of recipes. She also gives guidelines for those people who need to go one step further and avoid allergens like wheat, or who have candida.

Sugars and refined carbohydrates are extremely addictive. So the first few days of being off them are difficult. You will experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms. After about 4 days the cycle will be broken, and you could try some sugar to get an idea of what it has been doing to your body. We can assure you, it isn’t pleasant. To repair your body to the point where it can tolerate small amounts of unprocessed sugars takes about 6 months. So for that period of time, you need to follow the “perfect” whole food plan. After that, you can start testing small amounts of dried fruits, fruit juices or whole sugars like honey.

The list of foods concerned is huge and this comprehensive list is the most valuable part of this book. Here is a rough guide to what qualifies as “perfect” whole food and what doesn’t, which may be enough guidance for some people. Remember that Beth’s book is not looking at traditional food preparation methods, but is specifically designed to help you break a sugar addiction. It is also important to note that her advice on fats is wrong, so substitute healthy fats like butter or coconut oil for the polyunsaturated fats she recommends in some recipes. While Nourishing Traditions is a superior book overall, it does allow small amounts of natural sweeteners which a person who is addicted to sugar, or who is on a low carb diet, would not want to use.

Carbs that are allowed Carbs that are not allowed Fresh whole fruit Fruit juice Frozen whole fruit, no additives Canned fruit Fresh  & frozen vegetables, unpeeled Dried fruit Sea vegetables eg. nori, arame, karengo Peeled vegetables Small amounts of tomato paste, no additives Canned vegetables Beans & pulses White flours of any kind Whole grains Potato flour Whole grain flours White rice Chick pea or split pea flours White pasta Other foods that are allowed Most breads (but Beth has recipes for you) Meat and poultry (pref organic) Most pizza bases Fish and shellfish Sugar, in all forms incl fructose Eggs Honey Tofu, tempeh, miso, Braggs amino acids Artificial sweeteners Nuts and seeds Chocolate Cold pressed vegetable oils Caffeine Fresh or dried herbs, spices Soft drinks Stevia (herbal sweetener) Alcohol Vegetable glycerine (only other OK sweetener) Most packet foods have some refined carbs Herbal teas, chicory (without malt) Most tinned foods have some refined carbs