Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Understanding what to eat when making the leap to a whole food lifestyle is instrumental when it comes to meal planning. The most important thing to note is that if is a natural food- as in a food that came from the ground, it is ok to eat. I will share my top tips as outlined by the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. Take note that I say lifestyle and not diet...why is that? Because wellness is a lifestyle, something you intentionally work on everyday, not a diet.
The whole food lifestyle is centered around eating plant-based, unprocessed food, such as, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains.
Plant-based diets have been linked to lower cholesterol, decreased risk for developing diabetes, lower levels of heart disease....the list goes on.
I know it is not affordable to eat organic for everyone. I understand that some people do not know how or like to cook. I get it that "we only live once" and people want to enjoy food. I'm there with ya. But, I have made the conscious choice to be very intentional about what I put into my body and my children's bodies....and it is still delicious and enjoyable. This new found appreciation for nutrition and understanding of how food impacts every aspect of our wellness, has totally changed the game for our family.
As a half vegetarian most of my life (I never really loved meat or chicken and I did not eat bacon until I was 18), we made the full jump to a plant-based diet (sometimes called vegan) a year ago. (You can read a little about the switch here.)
I never thought the hubs would get on board with a whole food plant-based lifestyle, but after some research, he decided that he was ready. As a self proclaimed "meat and potatoes" guy, this came as a complete shock to me. But I lovingly (and ecstatically) jumped all in. We literally made the switch overnight.
For years we had been buying more and more organic foods, non GMO foods (genetically modified) and better alternatives. But the full on switch to no meat and dairy or oil was a big one. Now, I mostly buy organic produce (see my previous post), I cook almost all of our meals, and I do not buy a lot of prepackaged junk. We have found a few vegan restaurants that we love for a special occasion, but that is definitely not the norm for us. We care about where our food comes from, how it is made and the greater impact of food on our bodies and for the planet.
But again, I understand that not everyone has the same views and that is OK. Understanding that nutrition plays a key role in our overall health is what is important. Clean (non GMO, organic), whole (minimally processed or fresh) foods are essential to optimal nutrition. Fresh veggies and fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes are key for preventing disease and maintaining good health. We eat G-BOMBS as part of our meal planning weekly. You can learn more about G-BOMBS here.
I try to get most of the G-BOMBS into our diet daily, but sometimes it is not possible. I don't want to bore hubby or the kids so eating mushrooms on the reg won't work (for me it totally would because I am obsessed with them, but whatevs, the sacrifices moms make lol).
I eat avocado toast regularly (Dave's Killer Bread with avocado and Trader Joe's Everything Bagel Seasoning). That gets seeds and a serving of veggies our of the way for breakfast. Then we do the green goodness smoothie- greens and berries and more veggie/fruit servings in one shot (about 4 more servings).
For dinner I put onion in everything and we alternate beans, legumes and quinoa as our "main" and sometimes we use a meat alternative as a main (everything in moderation). We eat mushrooms at least 2-3 times per week, but I've recently decided to add some superfood mushroom powder into our diet so that we can get them 5-7 times a week. The goal here is to eat 95% of our diet as clean, whole foods. This has a greater impact on our bodies and being that we focus on sustainable foods and brands, we are having a better impact on the world.
Let's not assume that we don't eat a cookie or some almond milk or coconut ice cream every now and then. Because we totally do. Oreos are vegan (not intentionally) and although they are pure junk, I do allow the kids to have them every once in a while. And you bet your bottom dollar that I eat some too.
Depriving ourselves of things we like is NOT the answer.
Try to have a diet mainly comprised of these clean foods:
fresh, frozen, dried fruit (in that order)
nuts and seeds and spices
fresh, frozen, canned veggies (in that order)
whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, barley, bulgar, whole wheat pasta)
complex carbs (sweet potatoes, beans, quinoa, lentils)
You should try to avoid:
fatty cooking oils (if you use olive or coconut- use in moderation and use really good stuff)
Moderation is key and as long as we are eating clean, whole foods the majority of the time, a little Oreo or pectin based gummy bears never killed anyone. If you need some basic pointers on where to get started, you can read my tips on eating healthier here.
Let me know if you have questions on adding more clean, whole foods into your diet!
The key is to just get started!