When I was in school at Bauman College, one of the first things we learned was the philosophy of eating a S.O.U.L. diet. This may be the #1 rule of thumb I teach my clients about to this day. So what does this approach to diet mean?
S.O.U.L. stands for seasonal, organic, unrefined and local. This approach is both a way of shopping as well as eating. The idea is that you will be eating a nutrient dense diet of fresh ingredients and produce, that is not leaving a large environmental foot print by purchasing produce that need to be flown around the world.
If you eat seasonally, this means eating the bounty that can be found at your local farmers market in season specific weather. In the warmer months you will naturally be eating more lighter, cooler, sweeter pieces of produce, while the cooler winter months will have you eating more hearty root vegetables and bitter greens. Throughout the course of the seasons, you will naturally be eating a nutrient diverse diet that is constantly rotating and refreshing to match the change weather. Learn more here.
Eating organic means just that — avoiding genetically modified foods and foods grown with synthetic herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. A general rule of thumb is to always buy organic if the produce doesn’t have an exterior barrier skin (berries, stone fruits, greens, etc.). However if you are trying to cut back on costs, it’s okay to purchase non organic produce if it has a barrier skin (banana, avocado, pineapple, etc.). Learn more here.
Following an unrefined lens when it comes to shopping and eating means consuming foods that are in their most pure and intact state vs. being heavily processed and altered. Take whole grains for example: an unrefined grain (think barley, quinoa, oats) still has whole grain kernel with the bran, germ, and endosperm intact while refined grains (think processed pasta, crackers, white breads) the bran and germ are removed to increase shelf life, but this also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. This same process can be applied to oils, canned vegetables, etc. Learn more here.
Last but not least, eating local means purchasing your produce, meats, cheeses, eggs from local farms. Instead of supporting the world wide food industry of buying all your foods at a massive store like a Safeway or Costco, aim to support your local farmers at farmers markets, local co-ops, and non-chain grocers. This hugely reduces your global footprint while simultaneously supporting your community of local vendors. Purchasing their produce will in turn allow you to also follow a seasonal diet. Learn more here.
Have you ever heard of a SOUL diet? I’d love to hear what wellness philosophies you follow!