The Whole Foods Ladder

Today I’d like to introduce a new series: The Whole Foods Ladder.

There are things that are missing in our life that we don’t even realize – optimal health, uplifting energy, natural positivity, invigorated spirit. These are things that we deserve as human beings. And once you’ve opened the door to finding these life-altering necessities, things that seemed important before become a non-issue. Like, bread, sugar, or oh-my-god-I-can’t-live-without-this-food. I know. I’ve been in a similar place as you may be right now. But the grace I’ve found is infinitely sweeter than any food I had eaten in my past. Many friends and family members have asked me time and again, “But where do I start?”. Or, “I want to eat healthier, but I just don’t know what to do”.

Before we move on, read about my food philosophy so you can see what it is that you are missing!

And you don’t need to take my word for it ~ 18 Whole Foods innovators, including some of my heroes like the Paleo Parents, Liz Wolfe from Cave Girl Eats & Balanced bites, my brother Joe Johnson of Feeling Terrific Health Coaching, Shirley Braden of Gluten Free Easily, Melissa Hartwig of It Starts with Food & The Whole 30 program, George of Civilized Caveman Cooking, Sunny of and Love it Too!, and THE Lillian of Lillian’s Test Kitchen, all share compelling and fantastic wisdom on why we should eat REAL FOOD.

I'd like to credit this photo, so if you know to whom I should credit please comment!

Photo credit Two the Root

Switching over to a lifestyle based on nutrient-dense, whole-foods can be daunting. We have serious emotional attachments to food. Processed foods, especially sugar and fast foods additives, are known to have addictive properties. Before we start a new way of living, all we can think about is how scary the unknown is and how much we have to “give up”. It doesn’t occur to us what we could gain – energy, vitality, a genuine love of life, not to mention better physical health and emotional stability.

Five years ago I was addicted to “carbage”, sugar, and in a tailspin of emotional rollercoasters and shame. A lot of this was fueled by the junk I was eating: processed food has been proven to mess with the chemical balance in your brain. But I had to address my holistic health – not just my physical self and what I was eating, but also my emotional, mental, and spiritual health. I prefer teeny, tiny, eeensy-weensy baby steps, because they are sustainable and easy to integrate into my life. I would have never imagined a few years ago that I could easily pass on carb-heavy meals, resolutely stick to eating zero refined sugars, and truly enjoy what I eat every day. It has taken time, but each day I have enjoyed even more than the previous one, and I only find myself wishing to move forward, not back!

the slower you go, the faster it happens

I’ve created the Whole Foods Ladder to help people bridge the gap between a Standard American Diet (SAD) and a whole foods lifestyle. SAD is upsetting because it does make you sad, stressed, hungry, compulsive, and obsessed with “dieting” ~ which is perhaps one of the most damaging things we can do to our health, especially mentally and emotionally. Once we’ve completed climbing the ladder, I aim for you to be at the point where you are comfortable to approach something like a 21 Day Sugar Detox or Whole 30 program. These programs are incredible and will show you the wildly discernable benefits of eating real food. But some of us aren’t ready to take the plunge right off the bat. Thinking of “giving up everything” sends us into a panic. Or we commit for 30 days, but punish ourselves mentally, so we are in a continuous cycle of being “on or off the wagon”.

If we don’t address all aspects of our health – not just physical but mental, emotional, and spiritual needs – then we will always be on a “diet” and stuffing old behavior patterns into a shiny new food label. The Whole Foods Ladder will break it down for you, addressing each of these categories in turn and continually checking in to make sure one doesn’t get too far ahead of the other.

After doing the Whole Foods Ladder, you’ll realize what it means to be living fully and unfettered by the chains of fake food.  And remember, all that food that you think you can’t have – it will still be there when you’ve finished. There is no need to panic. In fact, I think you’ll find something even better on the other side, and you won’t even remember what it was you were so afraid of missing.

In the end these things matter most:

How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go? ~ Buddha


So, the very first thing to do is to do nothing at all. All we need this week is to make a tiny shift in thinking about how to be. The way to do that is to change your perspective. Tell yourself a new story. Focus on the good things. Remember that you are worth it. You deserve it, even when you slip up or fail or think the worst of yourself. Your worst thoughts are just one perspective on the situation. Come back next week to learn more about Step 0: Shifting Your Perspective.
This week, just ruminate on this:

Imagine a relationship with food and our body that leaves you nourished and fulfilled each day. Imagine having the confidence to relax and enjoy the food you choose to eat. Imagine how good you’d feel if eating was a pure pleasure and exercise a delight. Imagine taking care of yourself with healthy, lifelong habits, not because you should do them but because they actually feel good. If you’re ready to choose such a life, then you’re ready to choose “slow”.  – The Institute for the Psychology of Eating

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

*** Top image credit of Lake Superior to my friend Gary Jackson of Ironwood, MI. Thanks Gary!

Next Ladder Step: Step 0! Changing Perspective