The “Whole-Foods-Plant-Based” diet plan has been getting a huge amount of attention since the release of the Forks Over Knives documentary. (If you haven’t watched the documentary yet, I highly recommend it. It’s awesome, informative and inspiring!) The Whole Foods Plant Based diet plan (often abbreviated online as WFBP) is often described as “vegan” but it is much more than that, focusing solely on whole foods including nuts, fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains. When someone says they are vegan, it means that they avoid eating meat at least in part for animal rights’ reasons (an important one and a big reason why I began eating this way) rather than exclusively health reasons. So a vegan might actually not eat healthfully at all–they might eat a lot of processed chips, starches, Oreos and such. In addition, a vegan usually avoids leather, wool and honey as they are derived or made of animal products. While those who follow a WFPB diet may also make such choices, the diet plan itself is geared primarily towards those seeking the MOST healthy diet on the planet…which I think it is!
So, What is a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet?
A whole foods plant based diet is one in which 99% of the foods that go in your mouth are unprocessed plants, legumes, beans, seeds and nuts, plant-based milks and whole grains. Many choose to avoid all oils, because in the end, oils ARE processed–the thought is it’s better to eat the whole olive than the processed oil. I tried that for a few weeks, but I felt deprived, so I include small amounts of extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil and avocado oil. WFPB-ers avoid eggs, dairy, meat, fish, shellfish and chicken. We also avoid processed foods to the best of our ability. I try to buy organic whenever possible, in addition.
Benefits of a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet
Study after study has demonstrated just how good eating this way is for our body. A whole foods plant based diet has been proven to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes significantly. A plant-based diet significantly reduces our risk for cancer. It has been shown to reduce blood pressure. It clearly cuts obesity risk. A recent study demonstrates the importance of a whole foods plant based diet in preventing and even reversing cardiovascular damage. I could continue, as the studies are endless.
If this diet is all that, why don’t more people follow it?
*Lack of awareness: some people just haven’t heard of this way of eating.
*Perceived difficulty in sticking to it: some people immediately think “I could never eat that way” and dismiss a WFPB diet as too restrictive.
*The constant onslaught of advertising from corporations for the latest fast food, snack, soda, chip, candy bar or cookie makes it harder to stick to this simple diet.
*”You only live once” attitude–meaning, you should just eat whatever you want because heck, we’re all gonna die someday anyway.
*Some popular “reasons” I’ve heard include:
>”But I love meat!” or “I grew up eating meat and that’s what I am used to.”
>”My spouse/kids/significant other isn’t interested and I’m not cooking two measl”.
>”I have no idea what to eat or where to begin.”
>”I would starve to death if I just ate lettuce.”
>”I hate vegetables.” and “PLEASE! I am not a rabbit.”
The first three are valid excuses-but still overcome-able (is that a word?)
The rest? Not so much. We all want to live a happy, healthy, strong life UNTIL THE VERY END. Nobody wants to get cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosis or brain disease. So why do we tell ourselves we CAN’T DO the very thing that our body needs? Why do we psyche ourselves out like that? Why not just start, slip up, and start again?
Many of us continue to eat in a way that opens the door for all sorts of diseases, and in many instances, actually PROMOTES their growth. But you don’t need to. I strongly believe that once people start eating this way and taking control of their health, they will never go back to eating processed chips, soda, hamburgers and fries on a daily basis.
How Do I Do It?
First of all, know that you CAN do it. There are countless people who have eaten this way for quite a long while and their health is outstanding. Let’s learn more about a few of them (and keep in mind I am choosing older people because many, many people can LOOK amazing on the outside, but have a body that’s falling apart on the inside. These people have eaten vegan for many years and you can be sure they are in excellent health–and look it!)
Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, 103 years old
Dr. Wareham is an amazing man. He became a vegan about 50 years ago, and credits his longevity to his diet. He stopped working as a surgeon at the age of 95 and continues to drive and walk without a cane.
Annette Larkins, 74 years old
Ms Larkins has been a vegan for over a quarter of a century (goes to show you even diet changes made a bit later in life can have amazing results!) For those of you who aruge that “it’s all in her genes”, keep in mind that both her mother and her grandmother died at around 50 of cancer. And in a recent interview, Ms Larkins says that “diabetes runs rampant” in her family. So much for “genetic predisposition”!
Mimi Kirk, 78 years old
Mimi Kirk has been a vegetarian and then vegan for over 40 years. She is a grandmother to 7 children and an author and recently moved to an all-raw foods diet (you think WFPB looks tough!). Her website is Young On Raw.
Chef Babette Davis, 65 years old
Miss Davis is a chef and owner of Stuff I Eat. The menu is drool-worthy!! Her body is simply amazing, both inside and out.
My first suggestions for someone wishing to embark upon a Whole Food Plant Based Diet is to watch the documentary Forks Over Knives. I talk about it (as well as some other great food documentaries) in a recent blog post. Then I would get myself the Forks Over Knives cookbook. If I was the sort of person who really to know WHY this diet is so amazing, and wanted to read some more about it, I would read How Not To Die by Michael Greger. This book is HEFTY and very, very complete. It discusses why this diet is preventative against brain disease, alzheimers, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, breast cancer, and more. It is big and WONDERFUL. I might also throw The China Study by T. Colin Campbell into my cart; this is the book that started it all for many people, and calls itself the “most comprehensive study of nutrition ever compiled”. I have to agree. And finally, I recently purchased Neal Barnard’s book Power Foods for the Brain. One of the more devastating illnesses to strike (mostly) older Americans is Alzheimer’s, dementia and age related memory loss. This book tells you ways to prevent them and while I haven’t read it, I have read many books by Dr. Barnard and hope this one is just as good as his others.
What if I need a Health Coach to Guide Me?
You’re in luck. Beginning in January 2017, I will begin offering health coaching services out of my Stuart, Fl offices. If you are local and wishing to work with me one-on-one, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not local, I can work with you via skype, phone calls and emails to help you live your best life. Ever.