A Review of “The Whole Foods Diet” by John Mackey

By Shaina Eldredge on March 19, 2018

When I began my healthier lifestyle, a friend of mine was very quick to lend me a book she has called “The Whole Foods Diet” by John Mackey, the co-founder of Whole Foods.

When I began reading this book, my coworker started making fun of this book, claiming that it was just a ploy to get people to shop at Whole Foods Supermarket. This, the same guy who bought a book on how to get rich quick, but I digress. People seem to forget that “whole foods” is an actual term for, well, whole foods.

Book Cover of “The Whole Foods Diet” by John Mackey via Goodreads.com

Whole foods, if you don’t know, are those foods that are plants or vegetables. Your greens, your beans, and your something else that rhymes with those. Those are whole foods. They’re much better for you than processed foods, since they don’t have all of those chemicals used to mass produce, grow bigger, and package other foods.

The Whole Foods diet was an interesting read. Mackey and his co-authors repeatedly emphasize the 90% whole foods-mostly produce idea. Which makes sense; as my friend’s mom says, “No one ever gets fat from eating fruits and vegetables.”

Mackey and his co-authors throw in some really interesting statistics, specifically of the Blue Zones, which are areas of the longest-lived cultures who eat nothing but whole foods and very little meat (the authors suggest only allowing 10% of your diet be from lean, grass-fed meats. I’m going to say right now that I am not cutting back on meat, but you should know what the book says). In fact, Mackey says, meat in these cultures, if not cut out completely, is used only once or thrice a week, and only as a condiment to the rest of the meal—that is, it’s hardly a side.

Eating mostly whole foods is something I’ve been reading a lot about anyway. Avoiding processed foods is something I’ve been more and more actively trying to do, even before reading the book. I make my own pizza sauce and dough, and I’ve made other kinds of sauces from scratch just to avoid the chemicals used to preserve foods and give them longer shelf lives.

via Pixabay.com

But anyway, the book. When I was beginning to read it, it sounded a lot like the Paleo diet. The Paleo diet, if you don’t know, is a diet or lifestyle that completely cuts out processed foods, and allows only those foods that our Paleolithic ancestors would have had access to. These include grass-fed meats, fruits and vegetables, and some oils.

However, about halfway into the book, Mackey emphasizes that the Whole Foods diet is far different from the Paleo diet in that when people think of the Paleo diet, they assume that it allows far more meat than it really does. This is where I must disagree with the author; when I thought of the Paleo diet, I thought mostly of fruits and vegetables because I know that it was hard for Paleolithic peoples to safely hunt. And I imagine other people would know this too but again, I digress.

John Mackey himself and his co-authors are all vegans, which I did not know until I came across the vegan-dedicated chapter at the end of the book. The rest of the book was very refreshingly unbiased, and even included a few success stories from people who have followed the Whole Foods diet, as well as other whole foods enthusiast to research.

Overall, The Whole Foods diet was an interesting read, even if most of the points emphasized in the book were things I was already thinking of before picking it up. I recommend it to anybody who is curious about the severity of certain foods, who want to know alternative protein sources to meat, and to those considering becoming vegetarian or vegan. There are also recipes in the back of the book, which is great for people who think that healthy eating is just a sad salad of lettuce, croutons, and cheese.

A dedicated artist and lover of reading and writing.

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