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Published on January 1, 2021

7 Homemade Diet Foods That Are Good For Your Health

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7 Homemade Diet Foods That Are Good For Your Health

Trying to lose a few pounds doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself, nor does it mean subsisting on lettuce leaves, carrots, and low-fat spreads. In fact, many low-calorie foods will only do you more harm than good. For a start, many are devoid of nutrients, which means they won’t provide any of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly. Worst of all, most people just end up piling the weight back on when they start eating ‘normally’ again!

Good diet foods are real foods. These are foods that are low in sugar and calories, but they also contain a healthy balance of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They should provide you with slow-release energy and keep you feeling satisfied. They should also be nutritious enough to keep your metabolism burning over several hours.

Here’s my pick of some good diet foods to keep you looking and feeling great.

1. Bircher Muesli

Bircher is a homemade blend of oats, fruit, nuts, and grains that have been soaked in water or milk overnight. Soaking the ingredients helps to make them more digestible, which means the nutrients are more easily absorbed by your body.

Bircher Muesli is not only a good diet food, but it is also rich in healthy complex carbs, protein, and fiber. It provides slow-burning energy that keeps you feeling satisfied throughout the day. It also contains everything you need to keep your blood sugar in balance so you don’t suffer from sugar cravings.

Best of all, you can make your Bircher Muesli and use only low-sugar ingredients—so it’s the perfect breakfast for a weight-loss diet!

A simple Bircher Muesli recipe can include oats, raisins, cinnamon, nuts, and applesauce. Simply combine, add low-fat milk or water, then stir in some grated apple. Place the ingredients in a glass jar, screw on the lid, and refrigerate for up to five days.

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2. Homemade Bone Broth

Bone broth is not only one of the best diet foods, but it also has a huge range of health benefits. It’s especially good for an inflamed gut!

Bone broth contains an important amino called glutamine. Glutamine plays a major role in restoring the damaged lining of your gut. It helps to ‘glue’ those loose intestinal cells back together again, which is crucial for those who suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome or IBS.[1]

Bone broth is low in calories. It’s an excellent source of vitamin A, calcium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and much more.

Making your own bone broth is simple. All you need is high-quality bones from roast chicken or beef (preferably organic) and some vegetables.

Place the bones in a large stockpot and pour filtered water over them. Add the bones and a little apple cider vinegar to help release the nutrients in the bones. You may like to add vegetables such as carrots, onions, and parsley for extra flavor and nutrition. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until done.

Beef broth usually takes around 48 hours while chicken or poultry broth is around 24 hours. You can then freeze the broth or keep it in the fridge for up to four days.

3. Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seeds are a fantastic source of plant-based omega-3. They’re also rich in protein and fiber. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contain almost 10 grams of fiber—around 40 percent of your recommended daily intake.

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Research shows that a high-fiber diet can help fast-track your weight loss. Some studies even suggest that eating up to 30 grams of fiber daily may help you lose as much weight as any ‘on-trend’ diet. And because chia seeds are rich in fiber, they keep you feeling full for longer. In this way, they can help prevent you from snacking or overeating.[2]

More importantly, the omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds can help to reduce inflammation, which has been linked to weight gain and obesity. You can also add natural sweeteners such as stevia or monk fruit extract to reduce the glycemic index without compromising on taste.

Simply mix chia seeds with your preferred milk, cover, and refrigerate overnight. You can add more liquid as you need to get the consistency you like. Sweeten to taste and serve with blueberries on top.

Chia pudding can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.

4. Keto-Friendly Pancakes

Even if you’re not on the Keto diet, these protein-rich pancakes are one of the best diet foods out there. They’re quick and easy to make, and they provide plenty of slow-burning fuel to keep you powering through your day.

Replacing carbs and fat with protein can help reduce the levels of ‘hunger hormone’ circulating in your bloodstream while also boosting several satiety hormones. This helps to curb hunger pangs and result in fewer calories eaten throughout the day.[3]

And yes, it’s possible to make pancakes without bananas, butter, or carbs! Keto pancakes can be made with protein powder and your favorite nut milk, such as almond or coconut. Simply combine protein powder, eggs, water or almond milk, and baking powder. Whisk everything together and cook in the pan just as you would cook ordinary pancakes.

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5. Kimchi

Kimchi has been a staple of the Korean diet for centuries. It harbors a huge range of health benefits including weight loss.

Research has shown that eating fresh or fermented kimchi can help to reduce body fat and overall body mass index. Fermented kimchi has also been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, which is important for keeping those sugar cravings at bay. In fact, fermented kimchi appears to have even greater results in reducing blood pressure and body fat percentage than fresh kimchi.[4]

It’s thought that the ‘good’ bacteria within kimchi are responsible for its effect on weight loss. It’s also low in calories and high in fiber. As a fermented food, kimchi is a powerful source of nutrients for your gut microbiome. It helps to crowd out ‘bad’ bacteria. It also supplies the nutrients that your body needs every day: iron, folate, and vitamins B6 and K.[5]

Kimchi is made using the process of Lacto-fermentation, which is also used to create sauerkraut and traditional dill pickles. To make your own kimchi, simply chop up a large cabbage and salt it. Rinse and drain the chopped cabbage, make a spice paste, and combine with other vegetables.

The salty brine kills off harmful bacteria, while the fermentation stage allows Lactobacillus bacteria (the good bacteria) to convert sugars into lactic acid. This is what preserves the vegetables and gives them flavor.

6. Golden Milk Latte

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of coconut oil for weight loss. Indeed, some research suggests that coconut oil is a good diet food to reduce belly fat. One study involving obese adults showed that consuming two tablespoons of coconut oil daily helped to reduce waist circumference in male adults.

Turmeric is also a possible weight loss aid! A study involving mice showed that turmeric supplementation led to weight loss and reduced body fat levels even when their diet was unchanged.[6]

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A delicious turmeric latte can also help to heal a damaged gut. It’s rich in healthy fats to support energy and cognition and cinnamon for stabilizing your blood sugar. Some sources suggest that turmeric can reduce inflammation by 59 percent. This can help relieve aching joints and encourage your body to burn fat faster.[7]

To make your own golden milk, simply heat light coconut milk or almond milk with 1 tsp. turmeric powder and a pinch of black pepper in a saucepan. Allow to cool, then drink!

7. Kefir

Kefir is a fermented beverage traditionally made with cow’s or goat’s milk. Kefir grains are added to the milk which provides its health benefits. These grains are a combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria and yeast that break down the proteins in the milk to make a fermented beverage with numerous nutritional benefits.

Research suggests that probiotic foods such as kefir milk and/or kefir yogurt can help rebalance the colonies of friendly bacteria in the gut, which can help reduce inflammation.[8] Some studies have also indicated that kefir may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This is because the bacteria in your gut play a major role in the breakdown of protein and fats. There is also some evidence that probiotics such as Lactobacillus bacteria can assist with weight loss, especially when several strains are consumed together.[9]

To make milk kefir, you’ll first need to get some starter grains. Add these to fresh milk in a large jar and cover with a coffee filter or muslin cloth. Secure with a rubber band and place the jar in a warm area of around 68°-85°F to develop.

Over the following 24 hours, the milk will become slightly thick and sweet-smelling. You can then place the kefir grains in a new batch of milk and store it in the refrigerator.[10]

Final Thoughts

There you have it, 7 homemade diet foods that are good for your health and well-being. All of these are relatively easy to make, so preparation shouldn’t be hard. After all, maintaining a good diet shouldn’t be difficult.

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More Healthy Foods For Weight Loss

Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Lisa Richards

Nutritionist, Creator of The Candida Diet, Owner of TheCandidaDiet.com

6 Health Benefits of Turmeric (And How to Take It for Good) How to Take Probiotics for the Best Health Benefits 3 Steps to Get Rid of a Candida Overgrowth When to Take Probiotics for the Best Health Benefits? Best 7 Supplements to Boost Immune System

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Published on August 24, 2021

What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein
  • Nuts
  • Water

This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

What Is a Whole Food Diet?

By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

  • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
  • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Berries five times a week
  • Five or more servings of nuts a week
  • Olive oil five times a week
  • Whole grains five times a week
  • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
  • Legumes and pulses five times a week
  • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
  • Vitamin D supplement
  • Minimally processed foods
  • No more than one glass of wine a day
  • One or two coffee or tea a day max
  • Two liters of water a day

That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

Whole Foods and the Gut

Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

Whole Foods and the Brain

The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

  • Oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Whole grains

Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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1. Practice Batch Cooking

Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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Reference

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