Nurturing Yourself with Plant Based Whole Foods

Organic vegetables. Healthy food. Fresh organic carrots in farmers hands

How to Get Started

A lifestyle change to eating plant based whole foods can seem overwhelming without a little guidance.  The following advice will help you adapt and find new ways to cook and eat as we guide you on your new dietary journey.  The evidence is out there that eating plant based whole foods can heal, cure and restore the body and allow you to have a healthier, happier life.

Your Journey Starts Today

Everyone has a position of where they are in diet and lifestyle and we are all unique.  Look at where you are right now and access your habits and beliefs about food.  Think about easy changes you can make today that will start your journey of transformation.  These can be simple things such as drinking more water and less or no soft drinks, or trading the butter in for olive or coconut oil or cooking without fats.

Center on the Journey of Change

Any change is a process and any process takes time.  Consider the Standard American Diet, (SAD) as a starting point and eating plant based whole foods, as an end goal.  As you move through the jungle of food choices you will slowly find yourself getting closer to a healthier plant based lifestyle and further from the unhealthy SAD.  Plant based whole foods will start to become the norm while refined, processed and animal products will be phased out and become a distant memory.

Total Immersion Brings About Dramatic Changes

If you are trying to reverse chronic disease, the sooner you adopt eating plant based whole foods, the sooner you will get yourself out of the danger zone.  Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, states that after only 3 weeks of eating plant based whole foods with no added oils, can protect the plaque in vessels from breaking free and becoming potential blockages in your circulatory system.  Life and death can be at stake.  Alternatively, if you are just looking to adopt a healthier way of eating, any changes you make today will start to affect your health today.  Either way, making the commitment to change is crucial.

Start with Adding in Better Foods

Better foodsWe encourage you to start with the additions of healthy plant based foods that are new to your diet.  This will ultimately crowd out many unhealthy food choices you have made in the past.  Don’t think about this as deprivation or having to give up what you eat, but consider it as adding new and different foods to your dietary regimen.  When you start eating the more nutritious foods, you will notice how much better you feel after the meal.  Plant based cookbooks can help with new ideas, as well as the recipes in our blog posts.  Remember though, the food you buy is what you consume, so make smart choices at the grocery store.

Set Goals

Setting goals is an important aspect of any change.  Each week write down the goals that move you closer to eating plant based whole foods and the steps you need to take to get there.  All steps are progress and small steps count and are important to bring you closer to a healthier lifestyle.  Beginning goals may be to buy a plant based cookbook, stock your pantry with some whole grains and leafy greens, or bring a healthy lunch to work.  

Reading Labels

Marketers are experts at getting people to believe that their product is worth buying and eating.  They go to great lengths to make you believe that some of the worst foods are healthy.  Marketers label products going after the latest media hypes to capture the current trends such as “fat free” or “whole grain”.  It may say “whole grain” on the front of a package, but it is up to you to read the ingredient label to see if a whole grain is actually in the product or if it has been refined and pulverized into a stripped down unhealthy version.  

Sodium content is often very high in many pre-packaged foods.   As a guideline, the content per serving should never be higher than the calories per serving. Many prepackaged items have more than the entire daily recommendation in just one serving.

Fats can be problematic so it is best to steer clear of foods that have 10 – 20% fat content and especially those with hydrogenation oils and saturated fats.   “Low Fat” products often use sugar instead or add other elements that may resemble food but are far from real.

Added sugar is something you need to steer clear of in most products. It simply is not necessary.  Fruit juices, especially those from concentrate will often have as much sugar in them as soft drinks. Eight ounces of apple juice has 7 teaspoons of sugar!

Whole foodsEating Whole Foods

When we consume whole foods it supplies our bodies with a bountiful amount of nutrients as we need them.  Our bodies know how to break down these whole healthy foods to utilize what it needs at the time.  So, as long as you consume a variety of whole foods from all of the different plant food groups you should get most of the nutrients you need.  Eat a rainbow of foods with lots of variety and your body will thank you for these gifts.

Plant-based foodWhat does eating plant based whole foods look like?

Eat food that looks like how it was grown, before any refinement, enhancement, processing, modifying, coloring, preserving, or genetically altering it to be something else.  It’s simple, a whole apple, greens from the garden, whole grains from the plant, peas from the pod, etc.

Food Groups

The following show a variety of food groups that are part of a healthy plant based whole foods lifestyle:

  • Fruits: apples, oranges, bananas, blueberries, peaches
  • Root/bulb vegetables: carrots, turnips, beets, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic
  • Leafy greens: collards, kale, bok choy, spinach, lettuce, swiss chard
  • Seeded vegetables: squash, cucumber, tomato, eggplant, green beans
  • Cruciferous veggies:  broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, radish
  • Sea vegetables: wakame, nori, kombu
  • Mushrooms: button, shiitake, portobello, enoki
  • Legumes: edamame, black beans, fava beans, peanuts, soy, garbanzo beans
  • Nuts/Seeds: walnuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds
  • Whole grains: farro, brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, oats, kamut, spelt
  • Fermented foods: sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, sourdough, miso, kombucha, kimchi
  • Prebiotic Vegetables: jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, chicory root, leeks
  • Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado, nuts, olives

Eat Less of or none of the following:

  • Processed foods that have many ingredients, especially when they include words you can’t pronounce and sound like a chemistry class
  • Animal products, especially factory farmed animals and fish, red meats, skins, fatty tissue
  • Baked goods, especially commercially produced products
  • High sodium prepared frozen dinners
  • Refined foods: white flour products, white rice, white pasta, white bread
  • Sugar: soda, candy, sugar sweetened drinks, sauces
  • Bad oils: saturated fats, trans fats = hydrogenated fats, palm oil

The Integrative Nutrition Plate

The Integrative Nutrition Plate is a model for meal planning created by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It is similar to the MyPlate model put out by the USDA but with some significant improvements. Getting all the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs is obtained by choosing foods from a variety of whole foods, mostly plant-based. The old adage of eating from the 4 food groups is mimicked in this plate but with a healthier twist and taking into account that healthy nutrition is about more than just the food we put in our mouths. Healthy relationships, energizing activity, a fulfilling career and a sense of spirituality that works for you, are all part of a balanced diet. At least half of every meal should be Fruits and Vegetables which are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and fun. Part of your meal should be Whole Grains rather than refined flours. The meat category has been replaced with Protein, indicating that there are many ways to get the protein our bodies need without eating meat. The glass of milk has been replaced by Water which is important for hydration. The addition of Fats and Oils indicate that healthy oils in our diet are healthful and not harmful if cooked with care he addition of Fats and Oils indicate that healthy oils in our diet.

Food IS Medicine.

Food that loves youInstead of relying on pharmaceuticals to take away the ailments caused by years of cheeseburgers and soda induced destruction, eating a diet full of plant based whole foods will create a strong vibrant body fully charged and optimized for what life delivers. Eating plant based whole foods has been shown to:

  • Detoxify your body
  • Strengthen your immunity
  • Prevent and yes reverse plaque buildup in arteries
  • Decrease cancer risk and slow progression of certain types of cancer
  • Prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes
  • Prevent and reverse erectile dysfunction
  • Improve asthma
  • Prevents and slows the progression of certain autoimmune illnesses

What are the side effects of eating plant based whole foods?

  • Improves sleep
  • Weight loss if overweight
  • Increases energy
  • Improves sexual function
  • Resolves constipation
  • Improves depression and anxiety
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Fewer cavities
  • Improves acne
  • Decreases reflux
  • Less expensive

FAQ

How will I get enough protein?

Protein is in a lot all foods that we eat. The average recommended intake of protein is 42 grams a day.  People who eat a variety of plant based whole foods actually average 70% more protein than they need everyday (over 70 grams).  Great plant based sources include:

  • Lentils: One cup cooked lentils = 18g protein, One cup of green peas = 8g protein:  
  • Organic Tofu, Tempeh, edamame: One 3-4 oz serving = around 20g protein
  • Beans: black, kidney, garbanzo, white, pinto, lima, etc. One cup cooked beans = around 15g protein
  • Quinoa: One half cup cooked quinoa = 7-9g protein
  • Oatmeal: One quarter cup dry steel cut oats = 5 g protein
  • Seeds: Pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax:  One quarter cup seeds = around 7-9g protein
  • Chia seeds: Two tablespoons = 4g protein
  • Hemp seeds: Three tablespoons hemp seeds = about 10g protein
  • Spinach: One cup cooked = 5.35 grams of protein
  • Broccoli: One half cup serving cooked = 2 g protein
  • Asparagus: 8 spears = 3 g protein
  • Nuts: Almonds, Peanuts, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, brazil: One quarter cup nuts = around 7-9g protein
  • Potatoes: One medium white potato = 4 g protein
  • Wild Rice: One cup cooked = 6.5 g protein
  • Organic corn: One half cup cooked serving = 2.5 g protein
  • Spinach: One half cup cooked serving = 3 g protein
  • Avocado: One half avocado = 2 g protein
  • Brussel sprouts: ½ cooked serving = 2 g protein

If I don’t eat dairy, how will I get enough calcium?

We have been lead to believe to believe that cow’s milk is necessary for a complete diet (3 glasses a day!) and that the best source of calcium is from cow’s milk. This information has been heavily marketed by the more powerful than Oz dairy industry. According to Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the US national recommendation of 1000-1200 mg calcium per day is probably an overestimate and was based on a study in the 1970s that lasted only a few weeks. More recent studies of thousands of postmenopausal women have shown no decrease in fractures in women taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.  His recommendation is to shoot for about 500 mg per day which is what the World Health Organization recommends.

Calcium is an important mineral for our bodies. It is critical to the formation of strong teeth and bones, muscle contractions, nerve impulses, and enzyme and hormone secretion. If you eat a variety of plant based whole foods, your calcium intake will be fine without the need for supplements. Here is a list of non dairy sources of calcium:

  • White Beans, 1 cup has 191 mg
  • Black-Eyed Peas, ½ cup has 185 mg
  • 8 Dried Figs has 107 mg
  • Bok Choy, 1 cup has 74 mg
  • Kale, 2 cups has 188 mg
  • Broccoli, 1 cup cooked has 62 mg
  • Blackstrap Molasses, 1 Tbsp has 172 mg
  • 20 Almonds has 72 mg
  • 1 Orange has 65 mg
  • Sesame Seeds, 1 Tbsp has 88 mg
  • Seaweed, ½ cup has 62 mg
  • Fortified Oatmeal, 1 cup has 187 mg
  • Fortified Tofu, ½ cup has 434 mg
  • 7 Sardine Fillets has 321 mg

Will I need to take any supplements?

VITAMIN B12

B12 is a vital nutrient that cannot be obtained sufficiently from today’s plant food sources, but not for the reason you may think. Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria found in dirt and because our soils have been depleted due to pesticides, it lacks the proper amounts we need.  Furthermore, through the washing process, we wipe our fruits and vegetables clean to eliminate other pathogens which contributes to this nutrient being further depleted.  Animals do not naturally contain B12 either, but because they eat plants grown in the dirt or the flesh of other animals, they produce their own B12 from the bacteria in their gut. B12 is a water soluble vitamin so it is not stored in your body and needs to be ingested on a regular basis. It is recommended that you take at least 10 mcg per day in supplement form or foods that are fortified or contain B12 2 times per day.

Ways to get Vitamin B12

  • Eat more fermented foods such as sauerkraut, rejuvelac, and tempeh
  • Nutritional yeast fortified with B12
  • Almond milk fortified with B12
  • Edible seaweed including dried green and purple including nori
  • Find a good quality sublingual supplement. Choose vitamin B12 in the form methylcobalamin which is the methylated form of B12 that is more bioavailable and ready for our bodies to use.

VITAMIN D

Vitamin D plays many roles in health including bone strength, mood, thyroid regulation, calcium absorption, and muscle function. Vitamin D is more of a hormone than a vitamin which our bodies can make, however depending on the season and the latitude of where you live, we often do not make enough and need to get it from other sources. You can have your Vitamin D levels checked by your physician as many people are  deficient in Vitamin D, regardless of the diet they are on, especially in climates that are cold and dark in the winter months,  have indoor jobs, or have very dark skin.  It’s important to find ways to get more Vitamin D in your life to promote overall wellness. The current recommendation for vitamin D is 400 IU per day for children and 600 IU adults up to 50 years old, and 700 IU for adults over 70 years old. However, talk with your healthcare practitioner about the amount your body needs if you are deficient.

Ways to get Vitamin D

  • Expose yourself to at least 30 minutes of sunlight per day during the peak times or until your skin turns a light pink.  
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified foods such as tofu or plant milks (hemp, almond, soy, etc)
  • A good quality Vitamin D supplement

 



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