Have you went to a dietitian, nutritionist, or just your regular family doctor and they say “Kathy, you need to eat more whole foods.”? This question is answered by a response from you resembling a blank stare and a serious question of “Is bread a whole food?”. I’m here to tell you…it’s not.

Whenever I try to guide a friend on the path of eating well I most often tell them to stick to the 80/20 rule. Eat whole food sources 80% of the time and the other 20% can be reserved for fun foods (whatever that may look like to them). Then they give me the same blank stare…”Is bread a whole food?”. 


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Sorry to rain on your parade, sister, but bread is not a whole food! I have been in the health and wellness industry for almost two decades. My love for all things health and wellness has led me to thorough research, trial and error, and finally deciding which eating habits are best and which are just fads that we need to let pass on by. However, I cannot expect others I come into contact with to know right off the get-go what is considered a “whole food”. 

The diet industry is full of so many differing opinions. The government even provides a pyramid that suggests how many servings of each food group we need. I can see where the confusion comes from and why people are asking “Is bread a whole food?”! Good news friends – I’m here to set the record straight! Let’s take a look at what exactly whole foods are and how they fit into our everyday life.



Essentially, a whole food is a food source that is natural and not tampered with. It has minimal to zero processing and no additives and any other artificial substances incorporated into it. Some people refer to whole foods as those on the outside isles of the grocery store or those without packaging. 

So, what does it mean to “eat whole foods”? When I suggest to someone to eat whole foods for 80% of their diet I am asking them to stick to unprocessed and unrefined foods that are still in their natural state. 

  • Best Whole Foods – 

Some of the best whole foods are ones that are eaten within their season depending on the climate you live in. Stores are typically able to get different fruits and vegetables from all sorts of countries so they can sell them year round. However, this isn’t always best. I have found in my research that eating in season is best for our bodies. For instance, in Michigan it would be best for me to eat potatoes August through March. But for carrots it’s best to have those July through October. I check my local state pages to see what season fruits and veggies are harvested. You can check your state as well!

  • Examples of Whole Foods –

Like I mentioned previously, whole foods should have zero to minimal processing and no additives or other unnatural substances incorporated with it. Some examples you should be looking for are any fruits and veggies in their natural state, beans, legumes, meats that are free of preservatives and hormones, nuts, seeds, and some grains such as barley, oats, rice, and quinoa. 

The best thing to do to determine if something that is packaged can be considered a whole food would be to look at the ingredients list. To be considered a whole food I like to keep it to a maximum of three ingredients (and ones that you can pronounce). 

  • A Whole Foods List –

To keep things considerably less confusing I have created a compiled list of whole foods. As always, choosing foods that are in their original state is always best but incorporating some packaged food for time-saving and ease of preparation can be beneficial and won’t do any harm. It’s all about moderation, tribe. Not about killing ourselves and creating food rules that only wear us down!

Take a look at the list I created and ask yourself these three questions that so many others ask: Is bread a whole food? Is cheese a whole food? Is coffee a whole food? (Secret: coffee, when black, can be considered a whole food. Even if you are the type to add some sort of coconut oil into it…still whole. Creamer…not so much.)



Just like anyone else, I do have some favorite accounts I love to follow for some delectable recipes that are based on whole food ingredients. And bonus points for time-sensitive recipes – right friends?! Check out some of these accounts for wholesome goodness right at your fingertips! 

  • Slow Cooker –

  • Instant Pot –

  • Casseroles/One-Pot –

  • Salads –

  • Deserts –



With all this information (and of course the focus on whole foods more in more in our world) there must be some sort of benefit to eating this way? Right?! Yes! Here is how I like to think about it: When God made us he gave us the plants, the fish, and the land animals to eat from. We didn’t have industrial processing back then. There was no way to get our cocoa plants to turn into chocolate cake! Those poor people…

I am sure most of you have heard of the Whole 30 diet. The whole 30 diet (while I don’t prefer the use of the word “diet”) is just that. It’s supposed to only last 30 days and no more. However, when people are restricted for that long it can create some hard to break behaviors and perhaps even disordered eating such as orthorexia. When used properly, a way of eating that consists of 80% whole foods can provide the most micro nutrients needed to sustain a healthy body. Whole foods provide all the nutrients and antioxidants in the most potent form. When foods are processed they lose some of their nutrient values. 



I hope you can answer this question confidently now! Eating whole foods 80% of the time is a reasonable goal. It still allows for those processed foods all of us sometimes enjoy the other 20% of the time. The goal is to be realistic in our health and do it in a way that honors our body and the food God provided to nourish it.

I would be happy to hear about some of your favorite “go-to” whole food recipes and if you decide to try the 80/20 rule I like to follow – let me know how it works for you!


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  • Donna Miller

    I’ve been trying a few recipes, especially cold soups made in my blender. I discovered one soup that was pretty tasty, made with fresh pressed juices made from carrots, cabbage and onions. Then blend it with avocado to thicken. Yummy!

  • Writing to Inspire Life

    I know you are correct about bread but I still love it. Don’t eat much of it because it goes directly to my waist! This is a great article and I really appreciate the recipes, especially the instant and on pot recipes. I’m all about simple. Thanks for the article and the great information.

  • Heather

    Great info here! I tend to be a whole foods girl myself but often times when life gets crazy I find myself reaching for convenience foods. Thanks for the great recipes and reference chart.

  • Debbie

    Actually when God first made us, in the Garden of Eden, humans (Adam and Eve) only ate plants and fruits. God said, “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food. – Gen 1:29

    It wasn’t until the fall of man, killing and bloodshed of animals was allowed. And when God return, as it states in Isaiah, we will return to that Eden- state of no killing and bloodshed. God’s initial and eventual desire for humans is to live in a peaceful and non-violent coexistence with the rest of His beloved creations, where no humans or animals are or ever will be hurt or killed again.

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