What is a whole food plant based diet?
Whole food plant based diet is a diet that consumes mostly or only foods that comes from plant. The whole food plant based diet (WFPB) is not necessarily a set diet — it’s more of a lifestyle. Some people may think of WFPB as vegan or vegetarian and never eat or dairy. But in fact its different, plant based diet can vary greatly depending on the extent to which a person includes animal products in their diet. The WFPB is based on the following principles:
- Whole food means natural foods that are processed as little as possible which means whole foods or unrefined foods.
- Plant based means food that comes from plants and doesn’t include animal ingredients such as meat, milk, and eggs.
So a whole food plant based diet means that you meet your nutritional needs by focusing on natural, minimally-processed plant foods.
Why should you start a whole food plant based diet?
There are many benefits to starting a whole food plant based diet and these benefits are backed by excellent science. I started WFPB because I work out a lot and I wanted to see if it will aid my recovery and improve my performance and as a result I find that my body doesn’t get as sore as it used to after a heavy lifting session. Also I feel that my recovery also improve and I don’t feel as tired as I used to after working out several days in a row. In addition, as I am in my forties, reducing my chance of getting chronic disease in the future is an added benefit. Other people might starts WFPB because they are interested in one or more of the following benefits:
- Better Weight Management
Research suggests that people who eat primarily plant based diets tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease than those who eat meat.
- Disease Prevention
Whole food plant-based diet can prevent, halt, or even reverse chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure. high cholesterol, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
- Athletic Performance
Whole food plant-based diet are high in anti oxidants which help to reduce inflammation. This aids recovery time and help athletes to get back to training faster. WFPB is also low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol, which helps improve blood viscosity, or thickness. This makes more oxygen reach the muscles, which improves athletic performance.
- Environmental Foot Print
A plant-based diet places much less stress on the environment.
How to start a whole food plant based diet?
You can jump in head first and switch to WFPB right away which is what I did. It might be difficult the first few days but your body will quickly adjusted to the new diet. For me, the first few days I was always hungry even though I ate a lot of the right food. I supposed my body was still adjusting to not getting animal protein, but after a week I was fine. Also because you will be eating a lot more fiber than you used to, your stomach will probably be bloated. But it will go away after a week or two once your stomach get used to digesting more fiber.
Or you can take it slow and transition smoothly over a period of 2 weeks to a year its totally up to you. If you want to take this route, the first thing that you should do is to reduce your meat consumption, you can start by cutting meat out one day a week, then two days a week and working your way up to seven days a week. At the same time, you should try incorporating more plant food into your diet. Instead of making meat the star of your dishes, try making a bean, legume or tofu-based dish or making that side salad the main course.
Another way, you can also try is to remove meat from breakfast and have only plant based breakfast first, then lunch, so that you will only have meat for dinner. Once you have meat for dinner only then you can try reducing your meat consumption one day at a time until you eliminate meat altogether.
Once you can eliminate meat from your diet, if you’ve been eating fish, it’s now time to reduce and then eliminate that as well.
After you have eliminate meat from your diet, next are the dairy consumption. The first thing that you should do is to replace cow milk with plant based alternatives, there’re so many plant based milk on the market today so you find out what is your plant based milk of your choice.
Next is yogurt, this is fairly easy as there are also many alternative available on the market such as soy yogurt.
Last is the cheese, for some people this is the hardest as it very difficult to replicate how cheese melts. However, you should just go for it and after a while, you will get used to living without cheese.
Once you have eliminate cheese, then you have to eliminate all form of dairy from your diet such as cream, cheese sauce, sour cream and whipped cream and these are all easy to replace with homemade or store-bought vegan alternatives.
Then the final step is that you’ll need to eliminate is egg. You will have to eliminate egg from all your meal and from baking as well. Replacing eggs in baking is easy, you can use flax eggs, chia eggs, aquafaba, banana, soft tofu, applesauce, psyllium fiber and more.
Once you have eliminate meat, fish, dairy, and egg, then you will be totally plant based. Then you should continue exploring new foods, cuisines and recipes. Keep learning, go easy on yourself and just enjoy this amazing, plant-based lifestyle.
Below is a list of foods you should considered when you go whole food plant-based shopping:
Fruits: Berries, citrus fruits, pears, peaches, pineapple, bananas, etc.
Vegetables: Kale, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, peppers, etc.
Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, etc.
Whole grains: Brown rice, rolled oats, farro, quinoa, brown rice pasta, barley, etc.
Healthy fats: Avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, unsweetened coconut, etc.
Legumes: Peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, black beans, etc.
Seeds, nuts and nut butters: Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, natural peanut butter, tahini, etc.
Unsweetened plant-based milks: Soy milk, Coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, etc.
Spices, herbs and seasonings: Basil, rosemary, turmeric, curry, black pepper, salt, etc.
Condiments: Salsa, mustard, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, etc.
Plant-based protein: Tofu, tempeh, plant-based protein sources or powders with no added sugar or artificial ingredients.
Beverages: Coffee, tea, sparkling water, etc.