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Starting a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet

whole food plant based dish

I have been listening to a lot of presentations recently about Whole Food Plant-based Diet and I’m really convinced about its benefits. Actually I have been convinced quite some time now but I never really thought much about actually adopting this diet fully. I figured I was okay with my present diet which is already predominantly plant based.

Recently it has really come home to me that this is really a fantastic lifestyle habit to adopt or at least give it a try. A Whole Food Plant-based diet has been known to reverse serious chronic illnesses such as heart disease. Can you imagine that? Doctors will tell you that if you have heart disease there’s nothing you can do but just take medication for the rest of your life. Don’t be too hard on them though. They really never learned anything about this in medical school. Numerous researches have been done however that show the many benefits of this diet.

I have decided that I want to give it a try. I don’t know how hard it is going to be. Although I eat mainly plant based foods as I mentioned before, the truth is that there are little things, that I would want to get rid of from my diet. Well maybe they are not so little. I am talking about the excess sugars, the oils the processed foods etc.

So what really is this whole food plant based diet?

Well just as the name suggests, it is a diet that consists of whole foods, not refined foods. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds basically is what makes up this diet.

For persons who are on a strict whole food plant-based diet there are no animal products at all in the diet, no processed foods (or only minimally processed foods), no oils and no added sugar. This is the diet that I’m impressed to try. I want to go on a strict Whole Food Plant-based Diet for 10 days.

What is the significance of 10 days?

I can’t say there is any particular significance to the number of days. I am giving this new diet a try and I don’t want to be overwhelmed before I even begin because the trial period seems too long. Chances are I will continue after the 10 days if everything is working out okay. I expect that if there are any changes to the way I feel or look, that I should be able to see some of those changes within 10 days.

I think of the Bible character Daniel, when he was captured into Babylon and was offered the king’s rich foods (meats, cakes, pies etc.) to eat. He refused and asked to be given legumes and vegetables instead. He also turned down the king’s wine and strong drinks for water. The person who was in charge of them was afraid to do so because he thought they would look all skinny and weak if they did not eat the king’s rich food and he certainly didn’t want to get into any trouble. But Daniel convinced him to give them a try and give them their choice of food for only 10 days. After the 10 days they were more healthy-looking, as a matter of fact, everything about them was better than those who were eating the king’s food.

So I believe that results can be seen after 10 days hence my choice.

Where do I start?

How am I going to go about making this change? Well first I need to remove all the offending foods from my kitchen so all foods that do not rank as whole food plant based will have to go. I need to get them out of the way. No need for added temptations. So the sugars, the oils, those highly processed foods, the butter, cheese, other dairy products, eggs, the biscuits, the cookies, the salad dressings……all have to go. And then I’m going to need to restock my kitchen with only whole foods (foods reaped directly from the land without anything added or subtracted from it), or minimally processed foods, and lots of fruits and vegetables.

I can see that a special trip to the supermarket is coming up very soon.

fruit aisle at the grocery shop

The big question now is what will I eat?

It is important that the person adopting a whole food plant based (WFPB) diet approaches it the correct way.

Well known author Brenda Davis who is a registered dietitian, suggests 10 steps to consider when deciding to go WFPB in order to provide a diet that provides maximum protection against chronic diseases.

Step 1

Make whole plant foods the foundation of the diet.

So as was said earlier whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. And I also add here, herbs and spices. This is the overall principle of this diet.

Step 2

Select carbohydrates with care.

There is a lot said these days about carbohydrate and carbohydrates seems to be a villain in many diets. But the body needs carbohydrates to live and function well. The problem is that many people are mixing up all carbohydrates, that is, carbohydrates from whole foods, and refined carbohydrates. Get your carbohydrates from the whole foods and eliminate the refined ones. Also, cut out added sugar. That is one food item that can play havoc with your health and sugar is hidden in so many of the foods that we eat.

Step 3

Boost fiber

Fiber has many health benefits. It is well-known for cleaning out the digestive system, helps in the control of glucose in the blood and also plays a major role in cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet has way too little fiber. No wonder. If that diet is concentrated highly on meats and not enough fruits and vegetables we can see where the problem lies because the fact is we only get fiber from plants.

Step 4

Pick plant protein sources.

This is one of the most common queries if you tell somebody you’re becoming a vegetarian. They wonder where you will get your protein from. Well, as you probably know, there is no shortage of protein in a vegetarian diet. Peas and beans are key sources. Soya bean, for example has as much protein as meat. So the peas and the beans and other legumes as well as the nuts and seeds will play a very important part in this new whole food plant-based diet.

Step 5

Limit the quantity and focus on the quality of the fat.

Brenda Davis suggest limiting saturated fat and avoiding trans fat but the strict whole food plant-based diet suggest eliminating oils from the diet and since I want to try the strict WFPB diet, I’m going to try to eliminate the oils as well. But not to worry. I will get my fats from seeds and nuts. Not to mention my avocado and coconut.

Speaking of seeds and nuts, I actually learned something interesting. How many of you store your seeds and shelled nuts in the pantry? I do. They are nicely lined out in my canisters, but I just found out that it’s not the best place to store your seeds and nuts as overtime the fat becomes oxidized and is not as healthy as they were initially. The proper place to store them is in the fridge or in the freezer. That is a practice I need to change. You probably should do the same.

Step 6

Enhance gut flora

You must have heard a lot about gut flora and gut health over the past years. You may also have heard about prebiotics and probiotics. To improve gut flora we must eat foods high in prebiotics. This includes food such as beans, whole grains, asparagus, bananas, onions, garlic. We should also eat food based probiotics such as fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, tempeh and miso.

Step 7

Maximize antioxidants and phytochemicals

We hear a lot about antioxidants and how they fight off free radicals. When you think of antioxidants and phytochemicals just think colors. The more colorful foods are normally richer in antioxidants and phytochemicals. So go for your bright green, red, yellow, purple and orange colored foods.

Step 8

Reduce harmful chemical residues and food additives.

Although it can prove to be expensive, as much as possible purchase organic foods. This will eliminate some of the problems of pesticides and other harmful chemicals that is sprayed on the food. You don’t want to be ingesting all of these chemicals. Also eliminate the foods that have lots of additives and strange ingredients in it that you can’t even pronounce the names. And what on earth is Yellow number 6. It certainly is not food.

Step nine

Make sure that all nutrient needs are met.

There is always concern whether a plant based diet will meet all your nutritional needs. One nutrient of concern is vitamin B12. It is difficult to get B12 if you do not consume animal products so some person would suggest adding a B12 supplement to ensure that all bases are covered.

Step 10

Maintain a healthy body weight.

This is not very difficult for persons on a plant-based diet. However, if it is not a strict whole food plant-based diet and you’re eating lots of oils and fried foods or lots of sugary and highly processed foods, then it is possible to put on excess weight. Adopting the strict whole food plant-based diet increase the probability that you will keep your weight in check. Don’t supersize your foods when you eat it… except of course for salads. You can certainly supersize your salads. As a matter of fact it is recommended.

whole foods

I am ready to go…I think

So now I understand the general principles of a WFPB diet and with those 10 step given by Brenda Davis I think I am ready to go. I now know what foods to buy…well…maybe not quite. I think I need another step before I head off to the supermarket. For this to be successful I need to plan my menu for the 10 days so I will then know what foods to buy.

My 10 Day menu plan aborted.

I have changed my mind about my fantastic 10 day meal plan after 30 seconds of thinking about it.

Initially I thought of looking up some fancy recipes to make various meals and have all the meals and recipes listed out for the 10 days but I think I am just going to keep it simple. So I have decided that I will just separate the meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and decide what kind of foods to have for those meals.

Breakfast

For example, for breakfast, I can have cooked oats or overnight oats and I could top these with a lot of fruits, some nuts and seeds. I can also make chia pudding for breakfast.

Smoothies are also good breakfast option. I will make them high protein with lots of fruits and maybe I can add some vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Maybe some oats as well. Yes it should be truly filling. I can even make a green smoothie.

When I have time I can experiment and make some vegan pancakes like banana pancake or potato pancakes. That should be a nice change.

Scrambled tofu is going to be an option for me as well. I will be putting lots of vegetables and onions and garlic and turmeric and paprika in the scramble. I can have it with a baked potato or maybe have a nice burrito wrap.

I can have a smoothie bowl sometimes and my interpretation of this is similar to a smoothie but way thicker. So much so that you have to eat it with a spoon. Top with lots of fruits as well as some nuts and seeds.

Those are the options to take care of my breakfast needs for those 10 days.

Let’s go on to dinner.

Soups and stews will play a big role here. All the different legumes will make different tasting soups and different tasting stews.

Grains such as rice, bulgur or quinoa along with steamed vegetables and tofu are going to be staples as well. Also potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables.

I can’t leave out the pasta meals but I’m thinking that I need a substitute for some cheesy sauce. Therefore, I have to make sure I have some nutritional yeast on hand for some of these recipes.

So to summarize dinner – grains along with legumes and vegetables. Also soups and pasta meals. I love stir-fry tofu, so that can also be added. That should cover dinner.

Are you wondering about lunch?

The truth is my lunches and dinners are very similar. I’ll basically have some of the same food for both lunch and dinner.

Lots of fruits will be utilized for snacks and desserts but I would ensure that at least one other dessert treat is available.

Check out these 3 options below by Caitlin Shoemaker.

Well I am excited to give this diet a try. Would you like to join me?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Anne

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