How to Start a Whole Food, Plant-based Diet - Step 1
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
One of the most powerful steps you can take to improve your health, lose weight, boost energy levels, and prevent chronic diseases is to move to a whole foods, plant-based diet. Many people have literally changed their lives by eating this way. They lose weight and often reverse chronic diseases. Although I was never a heavy person, I lost 10 lbs and more importantly reversed my ulcerative colitis (an autoimmune disease) which I’d had for years.
The first step is to understand what we mean by a whole foods, plant-based diet. This is not actually “a diet”. That is, it’s not something you do until you lose the weight you want and then go back to your old ways. This is a way of life. However, most people are not willing to commit to this until they see the proof and that is why I say try it for two or three weeks to see if it helps you.
What is a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet”? Whole food describes natural foods that are not heavily processed. That means whole, unrefined, or minimally refined ingredients. Plant-based means food that comes from plants and doesn’t contain animal ingredients such as meat, pork, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, cream, or eggs.
The idea behind eating a whole food plant based diet is to eat nutrition packed, high density, calorie dilute foods as opposed to low density but calorie dense foods. Let’s break that down. 1. Nutrition packed - foods that offer a variety of nutrients including antioxidants, phytonutrients and fiber. 2. High Density - foods that are bulky because they contain fiber and water and therefore fill the stomach and provide satiation (the feeling of being full). 3. Calorie Dilute - foods that have a low number of calories per pound.
The foods that satisfy these three requirements are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes and occasional nuts and seeds (while nutrition-packed, nuts and seeds are neither high density nor calorie dilute). These are your “food groups”.
Look at the following illustration:
Both show 200 calories worth of the food, but which one do you think will fill you up more if you were to eat all of it? Obviously it’s the zucchini (courgette). In addition, the zucchini provides many more nutrients than the chicken. This is the idea of eating nutritionally packed, dense, calorie dilute foods. In the next article on Step 2, we will go over the foods to eat and not eat. You can also begin to arm yourself with some great cookbooks such as: The China Study Cookbook, Forks Over Knives the Cookbook, The Plant Pure Nation Cookbook.