Updated: May 14, 2019
All the fad diets out can leave us all scratching our heads wondering what it really takes to just eat for health and wellness. A plant-based lifestyle consists of food that comes from plants and contains nothing from animals, while whole food describes natural foods that are not heavily processed. That means whole, unrefined, or minimally refined ingredients.
Even following this lifestyle, people sometimes tend to worry about eating a certain type of green vegetable for calcium, beans for protein, nuts for fat, and so on. I’d ask you to let go of that kind of thinking and embrace a new freedom. The most important thing in this lifestyle is to choose the whole plant foods you enjoy most! There's no portioning, tracking or counting with your vegan prepared meals. It's simple: you'll enjoy a wide range of whole, unrefined plants including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruits. The best news of all? You can eat when you're hungry and eat until you're full.
Two-thirds of Americans alive today will die of cancer or heart disease, and many of these deaths will be related to diet. I founded Elia’s Kitchen with the mission to share insights that help you take control of your life through nutrition. “The whole food, plant-based lifestyle features simple guidelines grounded in science,” as quoted by Dr. Collin Campbell from the Center for Nutrition Studies.
The Benefits of a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet
Science supports that there are major benefits to moving to plant-based nutrition, include:
1. Easy weight management - People who eat a plant-based diet tend to be leaner than those who don’t, and the diet makes it easy to lose weight and keep it off—without counting calories.
2. A lighter environmental footprint - A plant-based diet places much less stress on the environment.
3. Disease prevention - Whole-food, plant-based eating can prevent, halt, or even reverse chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes.
When you move to a plant-based diet you began to improve your health, boost energy levels, and prevent chronic diseases.
The scientific evidence has proven that many chronic diseases can be controlled, reduced, or reversed by moving to a whole food, plant-based diet. Scientific research highlighted in the landmark book, The China Study, shows that a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and other major illnesses. Many people also report more significant fitness payoffs, more energy, reduced inflammation, and better health outcomes after switching to plant-based.
Counting calories and portion control isn’t necessary with plant-based foods because they have a lot more bulk, and nutritional density, as they contain more fiber and water than standard American “diet” foods. This bulk takes up more space, so our stomachs end up stretching sufficiently to shut off hunger signals despite our having consumed fewer calories overall. As such, a whole-food, plant-based diet is the only way to eat to feel full while also consuming fewer calories.
What matters most is the overall nutrient profile. Whole, plant-based foods contain all the essential nutrients (except for vitamin B12) in proportions that are more consistent with human needs than animal-based or processed foods.
As a precaution to prevent B12 deficiency in the general adult population, Dr. Campbell suggests that a daily dose of the smallest available tablet of B12 (2.4 mcg of B12 daily) is more than sufficient.
For plant-based eaters, Dr. Campbell suggests getting your B12 level checked every few years, particularly if you aren’t great about taking a supplement. He also suggests checking your methylmalonic acid (MMA) level, which is more specific for testing if you have enough active B12. Both are simple blood tests. This, like many other very specific suggestions in this article, are simply my interpretation of the information I’ve seen. There is no large database of studies, for example, that compares checking B12 yearly versus checking every 5 years. So, this is just the is best guess.
Why waste any of what we eat on inferior sources of nutrition that truly don’t even satisfy our hunger? If we choose a variety of whole, plant-based foods, then over time our tastebuds shift to really appreciate the depth of plant-based flavors and we will easily meet our nutritional needs.
So how do you start? Begin with these simple guidelines:
Load Up on These
Fruits: Bananas, blueberries, oranges, strawberries
Vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale, lettuce
Tubers & starchy vegetables: Potatoes, corn, green peas, winter squash
Whole grains: Barley, millet, oats, quinoa, wheat berries, brown rice
Legumes: Black beans, chickpeas, lentils, pinto beans
Enjoy in Moderation
Whole nuts & seeds, nut/seed butters including walnuts, pumpkin seeds, tahini, almond butter
Tofu & tempeh
Whole-grain flours & breads
Plant-based milks: Rice, soy, flax, oat, almond, cashew, hemp milks
Avoid or Minimize
Processed or refined oils
Bleached flours, white bread & white pasta
At Elia's Kitchen we can help you.
The Upstate's first Plan Based/Vegan Personal Chef, Prepared Meals and Catering Service with Cooking Classes. Healthy and Delicious!
www.eliaskitchenSC.com Tel: (864) 447-6094 339 Miller Rd. Mauldin, SC. 29662
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