Un-processing your diet

Sophia Aeby, Senior Reporter

Packaged snacks have become a go-to option for a quick bite, but consuming natural, whole foods is finding its way into many diets for individuals wanting to improve their eating habits.

“I started a less-processed diet a few years ago when I was diagnosed with Celiac and couldn’t eat anything with gluten,” math teacher Amy Leaver said. “I cut out everything like bread, pasta, cookies, pastries and a lot of processed carbs. I started experimenting with it a few years ago, trying to get a lot more fruits and veggies in my diet, and it’s made me feel a lot more energized and my skin is a lot better.”

Leaver says her natural diet, low in chemicals and additives, gives her a chance to support local farms in the Bay Area and in Northern California. Subscription services such as Imperfect Produce, which Leaver is subscribed to, weekly delivers cosmetically imperfect produce directly sourced from local farms.

“I was really grumpy at first because I wanted to eat sandwiches and bread,” Leaver said. “But after the first few months, I definitely felt a lot better, and I’m a lot happier now.”

Junior Annabelle Applegarth has been accustomed to a less-processed diet since she was 6 years old.

“When I talked to my nutritionist about my diet, I was told you are at your healthiest when you incorporate all your fats, starches, leafy greens, dairy and protein,” Applegarth said. “My nutritionist works to make sure I’m hitting all these different nutrients on a day-to-day basis to make sure I can reach my optimal nutrition and full potential.”

Some individuals turn to diets, such as the Paleolithic or Whole 30, to guide them towards cleaner eating. These diets include unprocessed foods, regardless of fats, and avoid so-called inflammatory sweets, such as baked goods.

“In the 1980s, fat was really demonized, and some of that mentality has stuck around,” nutritionist Alexandra Rothwell Kelly said. “There’s a real fear of using whole fat products like egg yolks, good quality grass-fed butter or even olive oil. When transitioning to a whole food diet, one of the benefits is you really start enjoying fat again because it contains a lot of vitamins, but also helps make food more satisfying and increases the pleasure of eating.”

Websites and apps such as Buzzfeed’s Tasty show healthy alternatives to favorite foods and quick and easy tips to a balanced meal. Tasty publishes recipes daily with a step-by-step guide to making time-saving, nutritious recipes.

“When I got older and started to make my own food choices, I noticed that eating processed foods didn’t make me feel as good as I wanted to,” Applegarth said. “So I’d rather eat more whole foods than processed foods so I feel good all the time.”