By Katrice Mayo, RD

Katrice Mayo, R.D., is a clinical dietitian and nutritionist in Richmond, VA.  Her passion is educating people on how to prevent and/or manage disease through nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. She is currently pursuing her Master Degree in Health Sciences at James Madison University. Katrice can be reached at realnutritiontoday@gmail.com.  Learn more about Katrice at www.realnutritiontoday.com.

The best way to stay processed food free during the next 30 days is to avoid unnecessary salt, sugar and fat which is dominant in the standard American diet.  You should also know what processed foods are, which for most people can be challenging and complex to understand. Below are some definitions and descriptions per Wikipedia, eatright.org and Michael Pollan, the bestselling author of The Ominivore’s Dilemma.

Wikipedia defines processed foods as convenience food, or tertiary processed food; commercially prepared food designed for ease of consumption. Although restaurant meals meet this definition, the term is seldom applied. Convenience foods include prepared foods such as ready-to-eat foods, frozen foods such as TV dinners, shelf-stable products and prepared mixes such as cake mix.

An article on Eatright.org describes processed foods as falling on a spectrum from minimally to heavily processed:

  • Minimally processed foods — like bagged spinach, cut vegetables and roasted nuts — are often simply pre-prepped for convenience.
  • Foods processed at their peak to lock in nutritional value and freshness include canned beans, tomatoes, frozen fruit and vegetables, and canned tuna.
  • Foods with ingredients added for flavor and texture (sweeteners, spices, oils, colors and preservatives) include jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, yogurt and cake mixes.
  • Ready-to-eat foods, like crackers, granola, and deli meat, are more heavily processed.
  • The most heavily processed foods often are frozen or pre-made meals like frozen pizza and microwave dinners.

Micheal Pollan has the best and easiest description to remember: 1. Don’t eat food with more than five ingredients, or with ingredients you can’t pronounce, or that contain high-fructose corn syrup (which serves as a ‘marker’ indicating that the food is highly processed). 2. Eat only food that you have cooked, or could cook. 3. Eat only food that your great, great-grandmother would recognize as food.

I define processed food that is in a box, can, plastic bag with ingredients that include high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, genetically modified foods (GMO), artificial sweeteners and a list of ingredients that my grandmother would not understand.

The best way to eat whole is to get food from your own garden, raise your own livestock, live off the land and rotate the crops like our grandparents and great grandparents did.  Since this is a challenge in 2014, the next best thing to do is buy your food in its most natural state as possible and this is where eating a whole foods diet comes into play.  You have been provided a list of foods to avoid but I come with a list of foods you should try to include for the next 30 days as you embark on having better vaginal health.  Be sure to adhere to any dietary restrictions needed based on food allergies and/or food therapies.  Also, if you are breast-feeding or pregnant be sure to eat additional calories and stay hydrated for milk production and a healthy fetus. This list comes from Food As Medicine, a training program I attended last summer.  Please review the attached list which also includes my personal recommendations. Happy cooking!

(SEE LIST BELOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)


Surprise!  This is Processed Too! http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442471055. (Accessed 12/22/13)

Convenience Food. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Processed_foods (Accessed 12/22/13)

Mark Hyman, MD (2006) Ultra-Metabolism. New York, NY: Scribner. pg 215-216.

How to Eat in Seven Words. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02840/How-to-Eat-in-Seven-Words.html. (Accessed 12/22/13)

Essential Whole Foods Pantry Items

Having a well-stocked pantry makes cooking a more pleasurable experience and saves you time. This list includes nonperishables items that are used frequently when preparing anything from breakfast foods to stews. Once you get in the swing of cooking new recipes that you enjoy, you will determine which items you use most often. As you experiment with more whole food recipes, you can develop your own personal standard stock pantry list. Be sure to explore farmer’s markets, bulk sections of health food stores, and ethnic markets in addition to your favorite local grocery store.

Herbs & Spices (fresh /dried)


Bay leaf

Black pepper




Garlic powder

Ginger powder

Italian seasoning





Sea salt


Vanilla extract

Unsalted Nuts & Seeds



Flax seeds


Pumpkin seeds

Sunflower seeds

Sesame seeds


Dried Fruits



Shredded coconut (unsweetened)



Grains & Legumes


Dried beans

Corn, popcorn

Kasha (buckwheat)

Lentils – brown & red

Oats – steel cut, rolled


Rice –brown, wild


Grain Products

Whole grain flours

Whole grain pasta

Whole grain tortilla

Oils & Condiments

Your favorite vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

Safflower or Sunflower oil

Soy sauce or Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)

Agave nectar


Maple Syrup


Raw sugar (Turbinado)

Fresh Produce

Seasonal fruits & vegetables


Hot peppers

Limes / lemons


Salad greens

Canned & Bottled Goods

Tomato sauce

Stewed tomatoes

Tomato paste

Canned beans – chick peas, black beans, white beans

Salmon & sardines

Non-Dairy Beverages – Almond, Hemp, Oat, Rice, Soy (boxes can be on shelf until opened)

Nut & seed butters– peanut butter, almond    butter, tahini, etc

Vegetable broth

Refrigerator Staples


Frozen foods

Your favorite vegetables

Fruits – berries, bananas, peaches, pineapple

Gluten-free grain products

Refrigerated Animal Protein

Grass-fed beef, pork or any wild game

Antibiotic free chicken, turkey

Cold water fish (salmon, halibut, herring)

Organic, omega-3 eggs


Water (make primary beverage)

Limited Black Coffee (no sugar, no cream)

Decaffeinated herbal teas

Limit alcohol (no more than 3 glasses of red wine/week)




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