Make your transition to a whole food plant-based diet easy.
Have you ever heard of the whole food plant based diet? This diet has its origins in America and is basically nothing more than whole foods without animal products.
This wfpb diet minimizes the consumption of highly processed foods such as oils, sugars, white flour products, and animal products such as meat, fish and dairy products.
If you found this article, you might even have already heard of this oil-free, sugar-free vegan diet with whole foods. And has it piqued your interest?
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Whole Food Plant Based is not necessarily a diet, in the traditional sense, but rather a lifestyle. The whole food plant based lifestyle is not just ideal if you are looking for a short-term solution, perhaps to reduce weight.
Numerous studies have shown that a predominantly plant-oriented (vegan) lifestyle has considerable advantages for your health, and not only in the short term.
This type of diet can reduce the risk of developing various chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. You can not only reduce the risk, but many diseases can even be reversed with this diet.
Many people, and I count myself among them, report that they have more energy, feel better and have better health.
For me, my pollen allergies have improved significantly and my health has improved overall. Our immune system is stronger, we rarely get sick. And if we do get a cold or the flu, the symptoms are gone after about 2 days, and we feel fit again.
Doesn't that sound incredibly good?
It is not my opinion that a whole food plant-based diet is one of the healthiest in the world. Below I link resources where you can reference for yourself.
In addition, with this wfpb lifestyle you not only do something for your health, but also something good for the environment and animals.
I sometimes know something new can be daunting and confusing. And maybe you are quickly overwhelmed like me and don't know where to start?
Then you have come to the right place. I have put together a guide for you here and listed 20 tips that will help you in the transition to a healthier plant-based diet.
After thinking about what helped me to eat consistently plant-based foods, I have broken down these points.
As with many things, humans are creatures of habit and so a new diet also needs some time before it becomes routine. A gradual change can be a wise approach for long-term success.
What is a plant-based, or rather a whole food plant-based diet? Vegan is often used as a synonym. Although the two diets differ somewhat, they are not identical. Some highly processed products may conform to a vegan diet, with the emphasis being that absolutely no animal products are consumed. However, these highly processed products don’t meet the principles of a whole food plant based diet.
It's not as complicated as you might think. The whole food plant based diet is based on two simple and clear principles:
- Natural foods that are not heavily processed are in the foreground here. This means that you should rather choose foods that are whole, unrefined or minimally processed foods.
- Plant-based foods that, as the name suggests, are based on plants and contain no animal ingredients. So no meat, fish, milk, eggs, honey and animal by-products such as gelatin.
Now let's take a closer look at which food categories are permitted in a plant-based diet. Basically, you can remember the fresher, the better. And packaged processed foods should have listed only a few ingredients that don't sound like a chemistry lab.
Here is a brief overview of what you can eat:
Fruits and fruits: There are no limits here, you can eat all sorts of fruit, everything from apples, grapes, bananas, berries, citrus fruits are allowed.
Vegetables: You can eat as much as you like here too. All vegetables are allowed: green leafy vegetables, peppers, lettuce, peas, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, root vegetables and much more.
Whole grain products: a plant-based diet is not a low carb diet but rather a low fat diet. Here you can consume whole grain products, such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, whole grain flours, oats, barley, greens. Popcorn is also a full grain.
Legumes: In the case of legumes, they are roughly divided into beans and lentils. Here you can enjoy all kinds of beans and lentils. You can use canned lentils/ beans or dried beans / lentils.
Other products: It doesn't just stick to these foods. You can also use nuts, seeds, tofu, plant based unsweetened milk, tempeh.
Make sure that you eat high-calorie ingredients like nuts and seeds in moderation and that you mainly use the other food groups.
Not allowed food
The extent to which you consistently eat a plant-based diet is up to you. But the following foods should rather be avoided or reduced.
All animal products and by-products
No matter what it is. As soon as it is in any way from an animal such as meat or gelatin, it should not be consumed. Studies have shown that animal products are as carcinogenic as if you were smoking. Below are resources that can help you understand why these foods are off-limits
Oils and sugar:
Oils and sugars are highly processed foods that should be avoided, because they contain high calories and few nutrients. Instead, resort to the whole product. Instead of olive oil, eat whole olives. Instead of avocado oil, eat the whole avocado. You understand what I mean, don't you?
White flour products:
All foods made from white flour should be avoided. Also white rice from which parts of the grain have been removed.
As already mentioned, there is scientific knowledge that supports a plant-based diet. Let's take a look at the benefits of a plant-based diet. I would like to say that this does not replace a doctor's visit, especially if you have health problems, always consult your doctor.
Easier weight control: most people who eat a plant-based diet are slimmer than those who don't. Especially with the whole food plant-based diet, it is easier to lose or maintain weight because you avoid high-calorie foods without paying attention to how much you eat. Best of all, you don't have to count calories. You consume more fiber and complex carbohydrates that boost your metabolism and help you burn fat.
Risk minimization of diseases: Whole foods based on plants can prevent or stop chronic diseases, including heart diseases and type 2 diabetes. Thanks to the reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol. It is even possible to reverse these diseases with this diet. Never forget to consult a doctor.
Strong immune system: Especially in the time when many viruses are created in the animal factories, it is good to have a stronger immune system. Consuming lots of vegetables and fruits, what you do with this whole food plant-based diet supports your immune system and strengthens your immune system. You take in more antioxidants and phytochemicals. You eat less flammable foods like meat and dairy products that basically weaken your immune system.
Environmentally friendly: This diet reduces your ecological footprint and pollutes the environment less. If you also have children and are concerned about your children's future, as I do, then you are on the right track. And after having read this article, you've taken the first step in the right direction.
You can protect the environment with this diet. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced with this sustainable diet. Water consumption is reduced because no factory farming is necessary. Less space is needed.
Vegan, vegetarian and also the pescatarian diets have the greatest advantage and benefit for the environment.
All kinds of vegetables. Try to include as many colors as possible in your diet. Eat the rainbow. Vegetables are rich in minerals and vitamins, low in fat and low in calories. And are cholesterol free.
All types of fruit are healthy and full of vitamins and antioxidants. Even if fruit is discredited by the sugar it contains, they have natural sugar that has a low glycemic index.
Grains are also often discredited. It depends on whether you eat grain products from whole grain, or from extract flour, from which all minerals have been extracted. This group includes the following grains: barley, brown rice, millet, oats, bulgur, corn, wheat, spelt, rye and all baked goods made from whole grains, including bread, pasta and more. Grains are filling but have little fat.
Some studies show that in countries where whole grains are a staple food Diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer are less common than in the United States and Europe.
This group is beans, peas and lentils. They are a great source of protein and ideal for hearty dishes. They are rich in calcium, iron and have cholesterol-lowering fiber and omega 3 fatty acids.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and Seeds are also full of minerals and vitamins. However, these should be eaten in moderation because they have a high fat content, mostly from unsaturated fats. Which are healthier than that of meat and dairy products.
Not recommended foods:
If you look at the pyramid above, you will see that meat, dairy products, eggs, and oils have no place. Additionally, highly processed foods should not be consumed.
20 Tips to Make the Transition Easier
1. One step at a time
I recommend a slow switch to a plant-based diet. That means adding more and more plant-based foods to your diet. It's not that we ban food. We replace food with healthier food.
Instead of ground meat, use lentils.
Hummus or avocado instead of butter on your bread.
Black bean patties instead of burgers
Tofu as a meat substitute
Instead of jumping in ‘cold turkey’, include more and more vegetables, fruits and whole grains in your diet. Ideally as much as possible. And reduce the unhealthy foods until you can completely omit them.
2. Commit yourself
Now that you have created a good basis for a plant-based lifestyle, it is time to set a period, for example a few weeks, a month, in which you will implement and maintain the change in diet. Did you know that humans are a creature of habit, and it takes us about 66 days to make a habit out of something new?
Clean out your kitchen. And write out recipes of your favorite dishes in a plant based version and enjoy them.
Maybe you know someone who is vegan or plant-based and can get inspiration from them?
3. Motivate yourself
Take a moment and think about what goals you want to achieve when you choose this whole food plant based lifestyle. What is important to you?
Do you want to increase your energy, save the planet or improve your own health? Or do you think of the animals and you want to save them?
No matter what your goal is, what encourages you to eat a plant-based diet, write those goals out and stick them somewhere where you can see them. This is your motivation to stay steadfast and do it.
Research more about your motivation to stay motivated.
There are endless reasons why you shouldn't eat animal products, and maybe your research will find more and more reasons for you and motivate you even more.
4. Celebrate your anniversary
Make a note of the day you decided to change your diet. And use this as your anniversary and celebrate it. So you can count days, weeks, months, years in which you have eaten a plant-based diet and actively done something for your health.
The longer you live the whole food plant based lifestyle, the more you feel obliged to continue.
5. Eat as much as you can
That may confuse you a little. Have you ever counted calories? And you limited your portions? With a wholesome plant-based diet, you no longer have to do this.
Depending on how you eat earlier, e.g. If you have consumed many animal products, your meals will get bigger. With a plant-based diet, you will eat a lot more without consuming more calories.
Especially if you eat a lot of vegetables and low-fat foods. Fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes have much fewer calories than animal products like meat, eggs, cheese, butter and milk.
Eat a lot of potatoes, beans, lettuce, vegetables, and fresh fruit.
If you are like us and you could eat all day long, this whole food plant-based diet is for you. You don't have to limit yourself and you can really always eat.
The permitted foods have a high fiber content which makes it difficult to gain weight.
It's not about eating everything in moderation, it's about eating plenty of good things. Over time, your body gets used to eating more.
If you may not get a good feeling for the calorie density of food, it may be a good idea to write down how many calories you have consumed right at the beginning, so you get a feeling of how much you can eat in order to have 1,600 calories. You will be amazed how many whole foods you can eat.
With a large number of vegetables you will see that this is a lot of what you can eat.
6. Start with breakfast
This is not just about dieting, it is about changing your lifestyle. Here it is more and more about reducing animal consumption. And breakfast is perhaps the easiest thing you can change at the beginning.
For example, you can prepare oatmeal (porridge) with lots of fresh fruit. Or make yourself a smoothie.
You can also make healthy breakfast muffins and eat fresh fruit.
Then start to adjust your lunch and keep going until all your meals are changed.
7. Plan your protein source
We humans are better off eating enough protein. However, it is often suggested that we need more proteins than we actually need.
Just start replacing animal protein sources like meat from your favorite dishes. And take a meatless protein source e.g. Prepare your vegan lasagna with tofu or lentils.
The best thing to do is to integrate protein-rich foods such as beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, seitan etc. into your food next to the meat and reduce your meat consumption over time.
This will help you get used to not wanting meat anymore.
8. Surround yourself with healthy foods
If you don't buy the food you don't want to eat, you can't eat it. Can you? 😉
It helps if you only have the food at home that you can / may eat. Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to buy only the things you can eat in the grocery store.
Prepare a shopping list and really only buy what is on your list. That helps tremendously.
If you have groceries at home that you no longer want to eat, you can simply give them to someone else before throwing them away.
Always have a supply of potatoes, rice, other whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes so that you can always quickly prepare a healthy meal or snack.
You can also buy canned or frozen products. This way it lasts longer and if you don't want to go shopping daily or weekly, this is ideal.
9. Reduce highly processed carbohydrates
In order to adhere to plant-based whole foods, you have to reduce the consumption of processed and packaged foods until you no longer need them.
The following foods are involved: crackers, muesli, granola bars, yoghurt. Often you think that these foods are healthy, but they are often full of refined oils, flours, sugar and more.
It is better to consider these foods as occasional treats. Instead, snack on homemade crispy chickpeas or kale chips.
Use more brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, pumpkin, oats, and popcorn.
If you bake, try using dates instead of sugar. You can find a sample recipe here for brownies. Buy whole grain pasta instead of normal pasta.
Integrate more and more of the healthy ingredients until you stop using “bad” foods.
10. Try new things
Try new foods every now and then. For example, I never used to eat mushrooms before and I love them now.
The same goes for tofu. If you tried it before but never liked it, try it again. I can recommend the sweet and sour tofu or Chop Suey with tofu.
Over time, your taste buds will change and you'll like foods that you didn't like before. Or if after a while you try again a food that you previously liked, you will notice that it does not taste so good anymore.
With this whole food diet, you will want more natural taste instead of chemical taste.
11. Look for new recipes
Start a folder with recipes you like. Try simple recipes. e.g. Buddha bowls, salad bowls, soups. Try to prepare simple dishes that don't take much time either.
At the same time, try a plant based version of the recipes you may have always liked. E.g. Shepherd's Pie, Sloppy Joes, or Pot Pie.
The internet is full of recipes. For example, you can find new recipe ideas here on my blog. Go to your local library and borrow cookbooks with plant based recipes that you can try.
12. Always bring something with you on the go
It is often difficult to eat plant-based meals on the go. But you are on the road now and are hungry? You can always bring a snack that is not made from highly processed and animal foods. For example, bring home-made bars, energy balls, nuts, fresh fruit, or vegetables. Homemade wraps, sandwiches, and salads are ideal for on-the-go.
You can also eat before you go out and then browse the internet to find out which options are available and where to go.
13. Plan your food
Planning your meals will make your life a lot easier. Make a meal plan for about a week. And plan every meal in advance. For example, only buy food that you really need and do not make impulsive purchases of food that does not fit into a whole food plant-based diet.
Also, take the time to cut and prepare vegetables. So you always have something to eat.
You can prepare recipes in large quantities and then freeze or cook as much that you can eat 2-3 times of it. That's how I handle it and then don't have to cook every day.
When you have ready meals in your freezer, you always have a quick meal on hand. Especially when you don't have time, this is ideal for relieving stress and not having to think about what you can eat forever.
Fill your fridge with sliced vegetables, spreads, salads, and soups. So you always have something you can quickly reach for.
14. Stay strong
It may take some time before you realize that you feel better when you eat plant-based. Not only will you get a faster metabolism and better digestion, you will also benefit from more energy and clearer skin. Your sleep gets better too.
Try for a month at first and see how you feel after a month. It takes about 30 days for milk products to be broken down from your bloodstream.
Many people react with pure inflammation when consuming dairy products. You will have less clogged sinuses, headache, and joint pain.
According to studies, it can take 66 days for new habits to become everyday life. When you have completed the 30 days, you are almost halfway there.
15. Equip your kitchen
As mentioned above and only fill your kitchen with healthy food. It is the same way to fill your kitchen with kitchen utensils that are suitable and easier for this lifestyle.
From cutting boards, good knives, baking sheets, pots, blenders, pressure cookers and more will make your meals so much easier. And you can try a lot more and be creative.
You may be able to borrow kitchen equipment from family and friends before you buy it yourself, so you can see whether you need it regularly.
Check online for offers or in your local stores to see if certain devices are discounted.
16. Do your own research
It is important that you educate yourself. There is so much misinformation and many will try to talk you into how unhealthy or complicated a vegan or plant based diet is.
We all grew up with the fact that animal products are an important part of proper nutrition. If we look at the old food pyramid, we see that a large part consists of animal products. And for many people, it's hard to imagine just eating plants.
If you educate yourself, you can answer with facts and maybe arouse interest in your fellow people.
Many doctors and nutritionists now recommend a plant-based diet. You can also read many success stories of a whole food plant based diet on the internet.
17. Find friends with the same lifestyle
We are all social beings and need people around us. We are often affected by people with whom we surround ourselves. Often there is a social pressure that made you stand firm.
Justifying yourself and explaining why you eat so often is tiring and you may give in at some point. You feel alone in the diet.
It helps if you have support at home. For example, your family, partner, children or even parents are the first point of contact and may also want to do something for their health.
Then maybe you can also take a look at the circle of friends and maybe there is a vegan group nearby that you can join. I recommend you to look for vegan groups in your area on Facebook.
It helps when you can talk to someone else, whether talking about recipes or asking for help.
Maybe there are meetups near you that you can join.
You can also just live your lifestyle and maybe people / friends get curious and want to learn more about your new lifestyle.
18. Move! Move!
It is important that you move. No matter if you do a workout or just go for a walk. We all know the benefits of exercise. Of course, always consult your doctor first before you start a bigger workout program.
It helps to not watch too much TV and exercise more. Housework, gardening, grocery shopping or just walking in the neighborhood.
Especially if you sit a lot at work, for example.Instead of calling a colleague, try going to the colleague's office and discussing your concerns there. Take a short walk in your lunch break and after work. Small things make a difference.
19. Quality of sleep
Again, it is important that you find enough rest. When we are tired, we become more vulnerable to things. Studies have shown that a sleep duration of 7-8 hours is best. But also listen to your body here. I have to say I am fitter when I sleep my 8-9 hours.
I know it is sometimes difficult to switch off your head and calm down. I feel the same way sometimes.
If you have a lot of things floating around in your head, maybe white noises will help you to calm down.
20. Cook together
Cooking together. Try cooking with friends or family. This makes preparing meals more fun and eating afterwards all the more.
Even if e.g. your friends and your family don't share the lifestyle with. Maybe they want to support you and find it great to learn new things. Just ask your family and friends who want to cook with you.
Everything is more fun together, isn't it?
Meal plan for a week
It will be easiest if you put together a meal plan right from the start until the whole food plant based diet becomes everyday life for you. We're still making a meal plan today so we always have something to eat at home.
Here I will show you what a week-long meal plan could look like for you to be successful.
All recipes are vegan.
Breakfast: Brownie Overnight Oats
Lunch: Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich
Dinner: Chickpea Curry
Breakfast: Strawberry Overnight Oats
Lunch: Pumpkin Soup
Breakfast: Cinnamon Buns Overnight Oats
Lunch: Egg Salad Sandwich (vegan)
Dinner: Lentil Soup
Lunch: Cobb Salad
Dinner: Shepherd's Pie
Lunch: Cauliflower Soup
Breakfast: French Toast with fruit
Lunch: Caesar Salad
Dinner: Thai Red Curry
Breakfast: Scrambled Tofu with Vegetables
As you can see from the recipes above, a whole-food vegan diet doesn't have to be complicated.
You can of course integrate a few animal products at the beginning.
Here I would like to show you a few resources that helped me a lot in the beginning and which I am still researching today.
A whole food plant-based diet does not contain any animal products or highly processed products such as white flour, sugar and oils. Motivation and commitment make it easier for you to implement a wfpb diet. The 1-week meal plan helps with the transition to a plant-based diet.