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How to Start a Whole-food Plant-based Diet

So What Do You Eat?

(if you don’t eat bread, cheese, meat, or olive oil)

As a nutrient-rich vegan, people often ask me what I eat. When I tell ‘em, “fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds,” they almost always respond, “Oh, I eat most of that stuff, too.”

Mind you, usually I’m having this conversation with someone who’s overweight or someone who’s had a life-threatening health event like a stroke or heart attack, and usually this person wants to believe they eat healthfully. When I emphasize to them that fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds are ALL I eat, then begins the hemmin’ and hawin’. 

Nope, the tomato bruschetta doesn't make up for the white bread and nutrient-poor olive oil.

There appears to be a major misunderstanding about the purpose of nutrient-rich food, and it goes something like this: if you had a salad for lunch, it’s ok to have BBQ ribs for supper. And a cup of broccoli added to your mac and cheese makes for a healthy meal. Furthermore, a plate of steamed kale is reasonable comeuppance for your lunchtime pizza splurge.

Unfortunately, feeding your body the nutrients it needs doesn’t undo damage from a prior meal. In fact, kale needs its antioxidants to help neutralize the free radicals produced by its own digestion!

Why follow a whole-foods plant-based diet?

High-nutrient food is neutral in this way—it provides you with the calories necessary to live without leaving a slew of advanced glycation end products in its wake. But animal foods (meat, cheese, eggs) and refined foods (beads, oils, sugar) do. They provide you with needed calories, all right, but at a high cost down the road (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.) because they don’t come packaged with the ingredients necessary to deal with the perfectly normal (but hazardous) byproducts of cellular metabolism.

To fully reap all the benefits of a nutrient-rich diet, your diet needs to be, well, fully nutrient-rich. And now that you’ve finally made it through that lengthy descant, here’s a meal-by-meal rundown of what I eat on a daily basis.

Breakfast: 8 oz. of steamed kabocha squash, 12 oz. of fruit, and a heaping tablespoon of flax seed meal.

Lunch: Gianormous Mega Salad consisting of a pound of raw veggies (lettuce, cabbage,

tomatoes, onions, etc.), 4 oz. of fruit, a cup of unsalted beans, and 2 oz. of avocado

Supper: a pound of cooked vegetables (steamed, steam-fried, roasted, or in soup), some kind of homemade nut/seed sauce, and a half cup of beans.

I also make a batch of date/nut balls periodically and drink lots of green and white tea (a great way to boost the phytonutrient content of your diet without adding calories).

You’ll notice that everything I eat is nutrient-rich—no calories are wasted on nutrient-poor, disease-inducing foods. Mind you, it took me many years to get here from the dietary roots of fried southern cuisine. But here I be, and I love it! 

How to start a whole-food plant-based diet

Does my food plan prescribe more roughage than you can currently stomach? Don’t be afraid to start small and gradually increase your nutritarian nutriment while decreasing low-nutrient victuals.

For instance, start your breakfast with 4 oz. of fruit and finish up with what you'd usually eat.

Similarly, begin lunch with a salad (sans salty, oily dressing) followed by the desire of the day.

If you follow through every day no matter what, slowly increasing fruits and veggies while decreasing the other stuff, one day you’ll find that you have arrived—and you’ll love it!

Caroline’s 4-module Taste Bud Rehab Program helps people adopt a nutrient-rich diet by teaching them the psychology of permanent weight loss. 

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