You may have heard the term Plant-Based diet before but weren’t quite sure what that really meant. Many people are interested in a Plant-Based diet but just don’t know where to start. I wanted to write a post to begin to explain a Whole Foods Plant Based diet to help people quickly understand what this really means. I thought it would be easier to digest (no pun intended) one piece at a time. So let’s start with the basics.
What exactly is a Plant-Based Diet?
The term plant-based diet is a shortened version of Whole Foods Plant Based diet, also abbreviated WFPB. There are 2 parts to this. Part 1: Whole Foods means that you do not eat processed foods. Part 2: Plant-Based diet means plants are the center of your nutrition. Once you understand the definition this usually brings up more questions. Like “Ok, I get it, but how is that possible? I don’t want to eat lettuce all day.” Trust me, I get it and I don’t either! While I love greens and eat them with every meal, I don’t like salads.
Why can’t I eat processed foods if there are plants in them?
The Plant-based diet is centered on whole nutritious foods. This is also why processed foods are taken out of the equation. When foods are processed the nutrients are essentially taken out. Therefore the body does not receive the benefits of the food and also has a difficult time processing these foods internally leading to poor gut and overall health.
What can you eat on a whole food plant based diet?
This diet is centered around fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. These foods are nutrient dense and there are lots of possibilities. There are so many combinations possible once you start trying many of them you literally will never have to eat the same combination of foods.
What does nutrient dense mean? And why is it important?
Nutrient dense foods keep us healthy. The body needs nutrients to survive and processed foods have very little or no nutrients our body can actually use. When a food is considered nutrient dense that means you get the most nutrients for the least amount of calories. This is why many people actually lose weight as an added bonus to starting a whole food plant-based diet. They are actually eating fewer calories but feel satisfied sooner. Calorie counting is no longer necessary for those trying to lose weight.
But how do you get protein if you do not eat animal products?
I know it can be a hard concept for many to wrap their head around but plants do have protein. It’s difficult because we are taught from an early age that all protein comes from meat or dairy and we NEED it to survive. Have you ever heard of anyone dying from protein deficiency? No. Because it just doesn’t happen. If you are eating a balanced plant-based diet, you will get all the protein you need. In fact, broccoli has more protein and less fat than steak per calorie. Broccoli also has absolutely no cholesterol where steak has close to 200 mg making broccoli a much better choice.
So exactly what can I eat if I am on a plant-based diet? I don’t know where to start.
There are so many foods to eat on a whole food plant based diet it is impossible for me to list them all here but you can eat a wide variety of foods. Here are a few examples:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Potatoes, all kinds & other tubers like beets, carrots, etc.
- Whole wheat pasta, bread
- Brown Rice
- Popcorn and more!
How can I get started on a Plant-Based diet?
The easiest way to quickly put together meals is by creating nutrient-dense bowls. Start by picking out your favorite whole grain or starch, brown rice or quinoa for example. Then add some greens to your bowl, my favorite picks are usually broccoli or asparagus. Then add a little flavor to the bowl. This could be spices, mustard, hummus, tomato sauce, hot sauce. There are a lot of options to add a little flavor to your bowl, just pick whatever you like best. Do not go overboard with the sauce, just remember it is a little for flavor. Also, always read labels! Do not use any sauces with added oil or high fructose corn syrup and minimize sugar and salt. Now you have a basic bowl! To create a little variety, and other things to your bowl as well like potatoes, corn, other veggies. Add as many things as you like, just keep the ratio to about half starch and half greens & veggies. Pile it on! You could even make a family potato bar for dinner. For example, start with a sweet potato and just pile everything on top. You can top it with beans, corn, veggies, fruits, anything you have ready to go! It is filling, healthy, and fun for the family! Add a quick and easy breakfast of oats with fruit and you have an entire day of plant-based eating with very little prep.
Here are a few more tips to get you started.
Many people on a whole foods plant-based diet will eliminate oil as well. This may sound extreme for some but there are for a few reasons. Oil is highly processed therefore does not have any nutritional value. There is more fat and fewer nutrients in oil than in a candy bar. Therefore a very small amount of oil will contain a very large amount of fat and calories. Not to mention it will not make you feel satisfied or full. It is actually very simple to eliminate oil. Anything you saute in oil can be sauteed in water. Oil is really not necessary in sauces either. I’ll be writing a more in-depth post on this as well so watch for that or subscribe to see it first!
Many people on whole foods plant-based diet also limit salt and sugar. If they eliminate salt, sugar, and oil, then they are considered to be on an SOS free Whole Food Plant Based diet.
If you are looking for additional whole food plant-based food ideas that are simple and easy to prepare, check out my personal food Instagram. This is where I only post what I am personally eating. It may give you some ideas of how to prepare your own food. You can always comment here or on Instagram as well with any questions. I’m happy to help and will answer ALL of your questions!
Stock your freezer with a variety of frozen greens. This is a tip I wish I would have figured out sooner. If these items are easily accessible then it is a no-brainer to defrost whichever green you are in the mood for. This could be Brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, kale, etc.
Here are a few recipes to get you started:
There will be many many more articles to come on the how to’s of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet, recipes, giveaways, and more! So please subscribe and you will get all this info and more first!