The 12 Core Principles

The foundations of the Mother Nature's Diet healthy lifestyle.

Core Principle 3

Minimise processed foods, eat only organic raw or grass-fed dairy

Processed foods are the output of the industrialised food system. Many processed foods use the staples wheat, maize, soy or rice as a base, end products of industrialised agricultural practices that deplete topsoil and are harmful to the planet. They tend to contain added sugar and salt, and nasty processed vegetable oils (think trans fats), and scant amounts of micro-nutrient rich fresh whole foods, such as vegetables, oily fish or organ meats. In short, processed foods are often based on grains or other starchy carbs, have added sugar, and lack natural micro-nutrients, and they support poor farming practices that are not nourishing our precious topsoil resources.

If it comes in a packet with a label on the back listing lots of ingredients and some scientific sounding words, and if it has a barcode and a use-by date more than two or three days in the future, then you shouldn’t be eating it. Living the Mother Nature’s Diet way, we want to avoid these processed foods, and eat almost exclusively fresh whole foods, rich in micro-nutrients and low in artificial additives.

Food labels

A carrot does not have a label saying: “Ingredients: 100% carrot”. When you visit a proper butcher and ask for a shoulder of lamb, it does not come with a label, a list of ingredients, a bar code and a pretty picture of sunrise over an old farm house. It comes out of the cool room at the back with blood smeared on it and bones poking out. He weights it and wraps it in a piece of paper and you take it home. That is real food. Fresh food. Whole food. That is how it should be.

If you look at food labels to understand what is used in processed foods, you’ll see how many processed foods are all just made of the same stuff – starchy carbs, sugar, processed salt, vegetable oils and then a few small amounts of artificial additives to give it flavour, colour and texture. Food labels list ingredients in order of size – I.E. the thing listed first is the single biggest ingredient, and the thing listed last is the smallest. So generally speaking, the first few items make up the bulk of the food by weight and by calories.

Just to illustrate a point, here are a few sample ingredients lists:

Ingredients label 1 – Bisto Best Rich & Roasted Pork Gravy granules: Potato Starch; Dried Glucose Syrup; Salt; Flavourings (Contains Milk); Flavour Enhancers (E621, E635); Vegetable Oil; Colour (E150c); Dried Pork (0.4%); Emulsifiers (Soya Lecithin); Onion Extract; Rosemary Extract.

What do we see here? Potato starch (there it is, #1 biggest ingredient, starchy processed carbs), dried glucose syrup (sugar, basically), salt, then minor additives. So that 100% makes the point. Gravy granules, processed starch with added sugar and salt.

Ingredients label 2 – Sharwoods Medium Egg Noodles: Wheat Flour; Egg (5.5%); Salt; Acidity Regulator: Potassium Carbonate.

And we see the same story again – egg noodles, made of wheat flour, egg and salt. Well, at least it doesn’t have a bunch of added sugar!

Ingredients label 3 – Whole Earth Lightly Whipped Milk Chocolate Spread: Sugar; Palm Oil; Lactose; Low Fat Cocoa Powder (10%); Skimmed Milk Powder; Whey Powder; Emulsifier: Soya Lecithin; Flavouring: Bourbon Vanilla Extract.

Number 1 on the list is sugar, then palm oil which has been the target of massive press attention because of deforestation and loss of habitat for orangutans.

Ingredients label 4 – Kelloggs Crunchy Nut with red fruit bites: Cereals (Oats, Maize); Sugar; Vegetable Oil; Crisp Cereal (Rice Flour, Maize Flour, Sugar, Skimmed Milk Powder, Salt, Dextrose); Glucose Syrup; Raspberry Flavour Fruit Pieces (6%) (Sugar, Cranberry, Citric Acid, Flavouring, Elderberry Juice From Concentrate); Peanuts (4.5%); Strawberry Fruit Pieces (3%) (Fructose-Glucose Syrup, Humectant {Glycerol}, Sugar, Strawberry Puree from Concentrate, Oat Fibre, Vegetable Oil, Rice Starch, Gelling Agent {Pectin}, Vegetable Concentrate {Pumpkin, Carrot}); Modified Starch; Salt; Barley Malt Flavouring; Sodium Bicarbonate; Antioxidant (Ascorbyl Palmitate, Alpha Tocopherol); Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin).

And breakfast cereals here provide the perfect example – ingredients in order of weight are highly processed grains, a bunch of sugar, and then a heap of artificial additives to try to make it taste and look nice.

Our supermarkets carry thousands of products creating "the illusion of choice" - but in fact, many processed foods are lacking nutritional biodiversity.


The Mother Nature’s Diet lifestyle avoids processed foods as much as possible because they represent everything that is wrong with our food system, and avoiding processed foods helps us to live by the other Core Principles too. Processed foods tend to contain grains and starches (see all the reasons in Core Principle 1), added sugar (see Core Principle 2), refined salt, processed vegetable oils, artificial additives and very little in the way of real nutrition. Instead, we want to eat a diet comprised almost entirely of fresh, whole foods – as covered in Core Principles 7 and 8.

This is a vast topic, and we are only just touching on it here on this page. Please read the book Mother Nature’s Diet to dig deeper into this complex area.

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